From Bernie: Why I took on Pride and Prejudice – The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Filed in Behind the Scenes by on April 10, 2012

This piece is syndicated from Bernie’s Tumblr.


So today launched the most challenging project I’ve ever taken on. A modern/YouTube adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, titled The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

LBD Episode 1 - Script - Screen shot

I do like how I’m basically the “silent partner” in all this. Those of you who know me, know that I’m not a “lurk in the shadows” type of guy but compared to the Hank Green audience, the resources he put in, and the fact that the genesis of the idea was his – in the context of the partnership – I am definitely *more* silent.

Anyway, some of my colleagues have asked me why I took on a project like this. It’s so unorthodox, against the grain,  and – to those familiar with my work on Compulsions and Black Box TV – against my “darkness” brand. Well in actuality, that is the answer. I love the unorthodox, pushing the envelope, and experimenting with story telling. It’s why I love Web Video.  So when Hank introduced me to the idea of adapting Pride and Prejudice onto YouTube, my story mind lit up. I mean it exploded.

It’s not a question of should it be done, but rather HOW! – How do you do it? – How do you tell a classic story rooted in a specific culture and time period and not only modernize it (which has been done several times), but re-tell it in a format (YouTube) that’s barely six years old while building immersive/interactive elements around the narrative. It’s such an amazing challenge and I love it.

So here we are and here I am doing the unorthodox. I get to be the one who gets to push this envelope and it is incredibly exciting and exhilarating. To the evolution of storytelling!

To be clear, it’s important to me that I honor the characters and their journeys while telling a compelling and entertaining story. I fully expect criticisms that say “Jane Austen’s Lizzy would never do X or say Y,” and though I may agree or disagree, it is a matter of opinion. It doesn’t mean that they’re right, or that we the LBD team are right. We made a choice to have our Lizzie do what she does, and she (and we) will live with those choices. I will say that Jane Austen’s Lizzy didn’t grow up in a world with Tumblr, Facebook, cell phones, cars, electricity, or woman’s rights. These are inherently different women because of the worlds they grew up in.

Hopefully most of you will enjoy the series that we (Hank, Jenni, Ashley, and the rest of us have put together)

In later posts I’ll break down specifics of how we tackled different elements, story points, character adaptations, and other details.

But for now I’ll repost my answer to this question from earlier today on  twitter .

 how are you doing this series. i mean is it a video for every chapter? for every five? or for every how many? “

My answer verbatim (in more than 140 characters) – It’s not an exact ‘chapter to video’ formula, but right now it averages out to be about two-three videos per chapter. Some chapters are longer and some are shorter in the novel and we will address them accordingly.

Here’s Hank Green’s (my co-creator’s) talk – which reminds me that my Mother is a huge P&P fan and is very sensitive to on screen violence (she has never seen any of my shows, ironic since she’s been present when I’ve won awards for them), but she’ll definitely be watching this one, and that makes me happy =)


I started to get interested in adapting Pride and Prejudice for the internet a few years ago. Mostly because my wife loves P&P so much that I wanted to make something that she would love, I think. It’s a beautiful story, very personal, very evocative and, importantly, in the public domain.


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