It’s in no way surprising that Hank Green and Bernie Su’s The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has caught on the way it has.
They took one of literature’s most enduring (and most adapted) romances, updated it to the 21st century, and broke it down into pieces that are easily and readily consumed and shared by the fans who love the story the most.
Through social media (especially Twitter and the other vlogs in addition to Ashley Clements’ Lizzie), Su and Green have given all of these beloved characters an inner life independent of Lizzie’s point of view.
This week’s episode, #60, was probably the most anticipated to date because it was when Darcy was finally revealed. So far, what has set this adaptation apart from the rest is that the vlog format has only allowed viewers to see Darcy through the filter of the Bennet sisters (and friends) impression of him.
One half of the central romance has been entirely absent for the last six months that this story has gone on.
When you read Romeo and Juliet you always wonder what would’ve happened if the star cross’d lovers had access to cell phones or at least a faster messenger (or if they hadn’t been 14 and quite often incredibly dumb).
To me, the most interesting part of this adaptation isn’t just that Darcy hasn’t shown up until now. It’s that to Lizzie’s horror, he can now go back and see in stark relief every single ranty, stream-of-consciousness thing she’s ever said about him. Now that is a true 21st century love story if I have ever heard one. And with these two, of course it isn’t a matter of will or won’t, it’s when.
For a basis of comparison, I’m including the other adaptations of Darcy’s “confession.”
I love how wonderfully over-the-top Joe Wright’s 2005 film can be. The whole wandering through the moors in the rain, declaring one’s love thing skews a bit more Brontë than Austen, but I think Matthew MacFadyen (who was also terrific in Little Dorrit) and Keira Knightley make it work.
And no pop cultural discussion of Mr. Darcy would be complete without mentioning Colin Firth’s utterly indelible portrayal.