LBD – what worked and what didn’t

Sunday, March 31st, 2013


Anybody who follows my Tumblr knows the overwhelming love that I have for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This is not a surprise. But those who have been paying attention also know that there are some elements of the series that didn’t always work for me. I have commented on them, though in the last couple of weeks I haven’t been focusing on them. Instead I’ve been swept up in a wave of emotion about the series ending and the wonderful romantic conclusion. Now that those waves are subsiding I’m starting to think more comprehensively and critically about the series as a whole. Those elements that didn’t work for me – I had put a pin in most of them, waiting to see how they concluded before I decided whether or not they worked in the end. Now that we presumably have all the information we’re ever going to have, I think I’m ready to draw some conclusions. 

Some criticism follows under the cut, and it gets long. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – even when I don’t agree with every creative decision that was made, I still really admire what the team did with this series as a whole. I may have sometimes found things to be imperfect or even problematic, but for me that doesn’t take away from any of the overall love that I have for the end product. The experience that I’ve had with this series over the past several months has been wonderful.

Read More

I agree with the large majority of this.

I’m still wrestling somewhat what how I feel about the Lizzie/Lydia conflict and the Lydia/Wickham abuse subplot. That had a different tone from much of the rest of the show, obviously. Whether or not that different tone was a problem is a judgement call. The people who made a mini-career out of hating on it made some good points. But I also think there was more going on than just good choices vs. bad choices from a storytelling standpoint.

I’m suspicious of my emotional reactions to that part of the story. Part of what I had a problem with from the time of Lizzie and Lydia’s big fight was a sense that my expectations for these characters and their relationship were being thwarted. I disliked what was happening partly because it upended things I’d come to really enjoy about what came before. I also had a sense that I was being hit over the head repeatedly with aspects of the story that came off as kind of melodramatic. I resented feeling like Lydia was being woobified, and like the characters were descending into a weird dysfunctional box from which they should have been able to extract themselves more easily than they did.

I was unhappy with what was happening, but on some level I was supposed to be unhappy with it. I didn’t like feeling that way, especially given the thimbleful-of-wine pace of the realtime storytelling, and maybe that made me want to subconsciously find fault with the creators of the show. But I don’t think that’s really fair.

One thing I’ve thought about is how easy it is to lob criticism at someone else’s creative work, versus how hard it is to actually create something worthwhile. LBD was good in so many ways that it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t really the same sort of thing as a television series or movie. The resources they were working with were minuscule compared to mainstream entertainment. In some ways LBD had more in common with amateur theater and fanfiction than it did with commercial entertainment. Whether it was amazing or awful really depends on what standard you measure it against. And it blows me away how much they were able to accomplish while basically bootstrapping a whole new approach to fictional storytelling.

I appreciate that there were people who hated aspects of the show enough to go into hyper-articulate detail about it. At a certain point, though, I made a conscious decision to push that criticism away and just enjoy the show. I unfollowed several people, and only went back to see what they’d been saying once in a while when I felt up to it. Yes, the things they were identifying as problems kind of were problems, at least some of the time (though at other times I got a sense of Lizzie-sees-only-what-she-wants-to-see). But many of the problems, at least in my mind, weren’t so much the moral failings and glaring stupidity that the haters saw, but were merely the result of well-intentioned people without a lot of experience doing the best they could to lay down tracks in front of a moving train heading through uncharted terrain.

I really loved this show. Which isn’t the same thing as saying it was perfect. Shows are made by people, and people aren’t perfect. But sometimes people and the things they create are worthy of love anyway.

Reposted from

Reblog if you want one more Lydia Bennet video blog before the series ends.

Friday, March 15th, 2013


At the very least.

And yes, I will keep reblogging these. Always.

I’m in. Though I can see it both ways. There’s the school of thought that says, basically: “Choose your battles. When you’re in a hole, stop digging.” But then on the other side there’s the school of thought that says, “Hater’s gonna hate. To thine own self be true.”

And then I guess there’s the third school of thought, which looks at the first two with a puzzled expression, before shaking its head and saying, “Whatever. I just want to see things wrapped up in a way that feels satisfying. Clearing up how Lydia feels about what happened would help with that. Also, I bet it would sell enough Diet Pepsi to pay for itself.”

I’m currently attending all three schools, which I accomplish by forging a lot of sick notes and being massively tardy. But I would watch this if they made it.

Reposted from

My rage, it has no bounds

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013


bernie su said:

It’s also why we didn’t have Gigi actively try to get George to download the app. If Gigi’s the one that catches George than that takes away from Darcy.

I cannot tell you how much rage this gives me.


The fact that anyone thinks that, in this day and age, just boggles my mind—let alone that someone thinks that who claims to have thought about the challenge of adopting Pride and Prejudice for a modern audience where women play a more active role in their lives and do things other than want husbands.

In fact, it highlights so much of why this show has gone off the rails. The Pemberley arc did more to ruin my enjoyment of Darcy, and my appreciation of him as a character, than just about anything in this show so far.

And now you’re telling me that you had to make him condescend to Gigi, and you had to set up this whole thing where Gigi basically has no agency at all and spends her time sitting at home and sobbing, just because you didn’t want to “take away from Darcy”?

Let me explain what took away from Darcy.

What you did: You set up a fully grown woman as someone who was being treated as a child by your main character. AND YOU NEVER RECTIFIED IT. Instead, you ended the arc by REINFORCING it, by making Gigi desperate to have her brother tell her that it was okay, and having her brother say it was. As if SHE was the one who needed to apologize.

Furthermore, the justification doesn’t even make sense. You’re telling me that somehow, Darcy gets more credit because Gigi did something on accident? How is it that this choice makes Darcy a more active participant? Here is another possibility: Darcy could have gone to Gigi directly and said, “I need your help,” and Gigi could have offered it.


How hard is it to figure this out? Nobody thought that because Fitz was down there with Darcy, helping him out—and clearly he was—that this “took away” from Darcy. So why THE FUCK would it “take away” from Darcy to have Gigi play that active a role?


You know what takes away from Darcy?

Having him wander around Orange County making piteous noises for a week and a half.

You know what takes away from Darcy?

Having George’s stupidity and an accident end up solving the problem, instead of Darcy himself.

The Pemberley arc was poorly written, ill-conceived, and honestly, the show would have been better off without it.

And I say this as someone who was super-excited about the arc when it first went up, as someone who adores Gigi and was really happy to see more Fitz, and who definitely wanted to see Gigi-Darcy onscreen reaction.

The Pemberley arc was a complete clusterfuck, and if you think that Gigi could not have been an active participant because it would “take away from Darcy,” you need to start thinking about how it is that you’re going to integrate women as active players in their own lives.

It doesn’t take away from men to have competent women in their lives. It adds to them.

Unbounded rage seems to me like an odd response to Bernie Su’s comment. I could understand you feeling that way if he’d said, “We didn’t want to have Gigi be responsible for tricking Wickham, because doing so would have given agency to a female character, and we wanted that agency to be reserved for Darcy because he is male.” But that’s not what he said.

When I read your earlier AU version of how Gigi could have brought down Wickham actively and intentionally, rather than accidentally, I at first really liked it, because it was fun, and awesome. But after thinking about it I realized that the creators of the show probably went the way they did for exactly the reason Bernie explained in this post: Because the discovery of Wickham was a key moment in Darcy’s narrative arc, the part of the story when he gets to save the day, and having him be the unwitting beneficiary of a Gigi plan to trick Wickham would have undercut his (Darcy’s) agency in a way that would have been problematic for the larger story. Not because Darcy is male, and there is a sexist imperative at work to reserve all such agency for men. But because Darcy is the main character in this part of the story, and Gigi is a subordinate one. Because they’re telling a version of the story that tries to evoke Austen, and to make someone other than Darcy responsible for Wickham’s discovery would have undercut that.

I realize that one could make a case that for Austen to have structured the story the way she did was itself a reflection of sexism, and that some (at least) of the social forces that pushed her in that direction no longer operate today, such that LBD had more leeway than she did to give that agency to someone besides Darcy. I think that’s a perfectly valid argument. But while LBD could have made a version of LBD that addressed and refuted the sexism of Austen’s time by making that choice, that’s not the same as saying they were required to make it. And to respond to Bernie’s post with unbounded rage sounds to me like you’re saying the LBD creators were in some sense required to enhance Gigi’s agency at the expense of Darcy’s.

Re-reading your post, maybe your argument is that enhanced agency for Gigi did not have to come at the expense of Darcy, that agency is not a zero-sum game in that sense. Which is an interesting idea, if that’s what you’re arguing, and I’d be interested in learning more about that. But I think it’s pretty clear from Bernie Su’s comments that that’s not they way the LBD creators viewed it; that they felt that having Gigi more active in Wickham’s discovery would have diminished Darcy’s role. That seems to me like a pretty understandable thing for them to think. I don’t see why it would make someone super angry.

I’ve really loved reading your (and others’, but especially your) criticisms of LBD’s choices. I wish you’d been on the writing team for the show, because I think the show that would have resulted would have been better, more satisfying, and more interesting. It would have done a better job of dealing head-on with the problematic nature of sexism both in Austen’s time and our own. I would have watched and enjoyed that show. I’m sure I would have learned a lot from it.

But I also watched and enjoyed this show. I don’t dispute your right to view it from a different perspective, and I’m grateful to you for sharing that perspective. But in this particular case, at least in terms of your anger, it’s a perspective I’m having trouble understanding.

Reposted from

Looking forward

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013




I’ve been seeing a lot of speculation on what the next adaptation could be, and how it’s going to blend into this universe, and thought I’d throw my dream into the mix.

I admit, I really want Domino/Pemberley/Lizzie be involved in the creation of the new series, and for us to be able to keep up a little with Lizzie, Darcy, Gigi and Fitz specifically (as Pemberley employees/vlogging mentors/etc) throughout the adaptation. And therefore see a wedding play out, even if we don’t get to see everything we so obviously want to. ;)

(Or, alternately, I also saw someone post that they wanted to see/hear about Darcy proudly sitting at Lizzie’s thesis defense, which would be just as awesome.)

In terms of the next book, I was excited to see LM Montgomery tossed into the ring by Bernie. Anne is everyone’s favorite (mine included, let’s be honest), and I would be so delighted with her, or with Emily. But my top choice for LMM would be The Blue Castle. It’s the story of Valancy, a mousy twentysomething who is pretty much entirely submissive to her bitchy, overbearing family, until she goes to the doctor and learns that her heart is failing and she has one year left to live. She decides to really live that year, breaks out of the mold her family has her in, makes her own choices, takes a job her family is horrified by and marries the guy she has a crush on but her family/town hates (with him full knowing she’s going to die).

It’s got a small scope of characters, and a character who is convinced she is going to die is not going to have many qualms about what she shares on the internet. It’s got romance, humor, strong female relationships and a woman taking control of her life. There are definite challenges involved in adapting it, but I think it would be pretty damn amazing to see. Anne’s my favorite, but Valancy is the one I understand the most.

Check it on Amazon.

Read the full text for free at Project Gutenberg.

Yesssss!!!! I was just making a post about how much I love The Blue Castle, and I decided to check tags to see if anybody else was writing about it. This would be amazing. They’ll probably go with something more well known, but I could totally see this working in the vlog format. 

“My name is Valancy Stirling, and this is my year of living dangerously.” 

“My name is Valancy Stirling, and I’m about to start living life to the fullest.”  

“My name is Valancy Stirling, and I am going to die.”  

“My name is Valancy Stirling, and I may have just made the biggest mistake of my life.”  

“My name is Valancy Stirling, and this is my bucket list.”  

Seriously though, I could definitely see Valancy creating some kind of bucket list and making vlogs to update the world on her success.  Maybe a vlog (or, honestly, even just a blog?) would be on her bucket list.  

If Bernie Su doesn’t do this, anyone want to co-opt it????

That really does sound fantastic. I would so love to see that. And yeah, if Hank and Bernie don’t do it, I would love to see someone else give it a shot.

One of the really interesting things about LBD is how inexpensive it was to produce. I mean, it was expensive by the standards of people on YouTube, but compared to big-budget (or even small-budget) TV shows, it was incredibly cheap. Bernie Su has said the whole series was shot using an $800 camera and a $100 microphone. There were no licensing fees, since the original work is out of copyright. Locations and costumes were cheap, since the story was set in a contemporary bedroom. They didn’t need stunts or special effects. There wasn’t much editing. They didn’t do marketing. There weren’t any distribution costs.

There was time and effort for the people involved. They paid a relatively small amount (I assume) for the writers, transmedia, and production people. And I assume they paid a somewhat larger amount for professional actors.

And unless I’m missing something, that was pretty much it.

What that means is that putting on a show like this is within the financial reach of anyone who’s sufficiently motivated. That’s one of the things that has frustrated me about some of the criticism of LBD that I’ve seen: If you don’t like the creative choices they made in putting on this show, you’re not limited to carping about it on Tumblr. You can make your own show. You can go beyond complaining, and actually fix the thing that bothers you.

Of course, actually creating a compelling artistic work in a collaborative medium like this is a lot more complicated than just criticizing story choices after the fact. You’d have to find people willing to collaborate with you, and communicate a vision that was compelling enough to bring them along. You’d have to find, and presumably pay, decent actors. You’d have to come up with some money (not much, but some).

It would probably be a lot more work, and a much more deferred payoff, than the immediate gratification of picking apart someone else’s creation. But there’d be an actual creation of your own at the end of the process.

I think the Anton Ego speech is relevant:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends… Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.

Some of the people who’ve been critical of the LBD team’s creative choices have come up with some really awesome-sounding ideas for how the show could have been better. And look: If Hank and Bernie and company could do this, and be as successful as they have been even with all their shortcomings and problematic choices, how much more awesome (or at least, differently awesome) could your version of LBD have been?

So go create it. I would love to watch that.

Reposted from