You know that out of body experience you get when you’ve never encountered something before and then once you do, you see it everywhere you turn? It’s like the universe is shouting at you, “Hey, this is important! Check it out!…Seriously. I mean, drop everything you’re doing and go look into this…Right now!” Well, a few weeks ago that happened to me regarding the outstanding web vlog series called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD). I would see a random comments from writer friends online, talking about how much they loved it. At first I thought maybe it was a new book or something. It is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice this year, so many new books have been released to celebrate it. Then another friend tweeted about catching up on watching some Lizzie Bennet episodes. Okay, not a book…a new series, maybe? The chatter got so loud and so gushing that I finally had to Google it just to find out what in the heck everyone was talking about. That search led me to the YouTube channel for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and then the first episode began to play.
Wow. What fun! A modern day vlog hosted by the character Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bennet, telling all about her life and the lives of her two sisters, Lydia and Jane. Perfect for this month’s Pride & Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge event! It’s the modern retelling of P & P, so sisters Mary and Kitty were recast as a cousin and…a cat. Those are not the only changes; Jane works in fashion, Lizzie is in grad school (with her vlog as her thesis project), and Lizzie’s best friend, Charlotte helps her film and edit the vlog episodes because she has aspirations of being a filmmaker. Bingley has been transformed into Bing Lee, the young (available & wealthy) medical student who’s just moved into town. Some things that are still the same; Mrs. Bennet still wants her daughters to get married and Darcy is is still very Darcy…or is he?
Not being very experienced with YouTube besides watching occasional episodes of John Green’s vlogbrothers, I was fascinated by the world of the weekly vlog webisode, and taking literature into this techno place. (On a sidenote, John Green’s brother and other half of the vlogbrothers, Hank Green, was one of the co-creators of this project.)
In LBD, the characters address the camera directly and speak to us the viewers and to each other about their feelings. It feels more like peeking in on a webchat than watching a play or a movie. Still, the experience is very cool and so interactive, with viewers commenting on each weekly episode. Not to mention the spin off episodes that Lydia’s character put out that added another layer to the experience, like some wonderful special features tidbit you’d get with your double disc blue ray set. You can even follow some of the characters on Twitter. And they even tweet back and forth with each other. Just more and more awesomeness.
By the time I’d stumbled onto this gem, there were already over 90 episodes to watch! Yikes! I was so behind! Needless to say, when I started watching, I couldn’t stop. It killed my productivity for a few days, blazing through them all, cursing my internet server (you know who you are) the few times that my WiFi streaming was too slow to keep up with my viewing demands, but it was worth it.
What surprised me most about LBD, was when the emotional impact escalated and I actually felt myself reacting to what I was viewing. Even tearing up a few times. I hadn’t expected that. The acting was so natural that you’d forget it was happening until they’d smack you upside the head with a great emotional scene. Bravo!
Now, as you all know, this story has an ending, and so too does this fine vlog. Episode 100 is coming up very soon. I would encourage all of you to check out this fantastic show. Start here with the first ten episodes. And for those of you who are already fans and would love another web vlog inspired by a great book, check out the new School of Thrones, only in it’s second episode! Actor Mary Kate Wiles, who plays the darling (and totes adorbes) Lydia in LBD, plays Sansa Stark in this spoof of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. It’s fantastic.
So what about you? Do you watch any fabulous vlogs? Any others out there you know of inspired by great books? I’d love to hear from you.