I’ve spent the last hour or so catching up on the Lydia Bennet Diaries. They’re a companion to the web series the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which retells the Pride & Prejudice story through the medium of a video blog which is presented by twenty-four year old media grad student Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements), and edited by her best friend Charlotte Lu (Julia Cho).
The video diaries also feature appearances from Lizzie and Jane’s friends Bing and Caroline Lee (Christopher Sean & Jessica Jane Andres), William Darcy (Daniel Gordh), and Fitz (Craig Frank), and Lizzie’s sometime beau George Wickham (Wes Aderhold).
Mr and Mrs Bennet only feature through impressions performed by the other characters.
It’s a very clever adaptation, and as the diaries, posted on YouTube on Mondays and Thursdays, are only five or six minutes in length they’re easy to keep up with. While I’ve been watching those I had overlooked the Lydia Bennet Diaries, thinking that, as Lydia didn’t feature to much in the book until she eloped with Wickham, Lydia’s vlogs wouldn’t add much to the story.
I’d also found the character of Lydia somewhat annoying when she featured in Lizzie’s videos.
I changed my mind as I realised that this annoyance was as a result of some superb acting from Mary Kate Wiles. And I’m so glad I did, as the Lydia Bennet Diaries are some of the best parts of this whole project.
The videos are there to fill in parts of Lydia’s story while she and Lizzie are in separate places and Lydia is unable to feature in her sister’s videos. There have so far been eighty episodes of the Lizzie diaries and thirty episodes of Lydia’s.
There is a completely different feel to these videos. Where as the Lizzie Bennet Diaries have a slick and professional feel to them Lydia’s feel more immediate and authentic. They’re presented as the unedited online journal of a young girl, although they often also feature cousin Mary.
Both actresses do a sterling job, and the unfolding of their relationship is both touching and poignant.
But Mary Kate Wiles is just brilliant; she has such expressive eyes. She’s actually become one of my favourite actresses.
Her vlogs start off as the shallow, self-indulgent complaints of a young party girl, but as time progresses we get to see the vulnerable, insecure little person underneath the brash façade. The youngest child who feels over shadowed and left behind by her older siblings, and is particularly hurt by what she perceives as Lizzie’s lack of regard for her. There are points in the videos where my heart just went out to her.
The videos also show the relationship between Lydia and Mary grow from one of mutual disdain to something that, while rocky, is more real and meaningful.
This Lydia has far more depth than the character Jane Austen originally created but I think this adaptation is the better for it; and the original Lydia’s obsession with boys and hasty marriage wouldn’t be enough to give rise to a scandalous plot device in a modern-day America that has seen Britney Spears’ and Kim Kardashian’s car-crashing romantic histories.
We’ve now reached the point in the story where George Wickham enters Lydia’s life. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next, although I feel so sorry in advance for poor old Lydia.