In Jane Austen’s time, it was a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. These days, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good education must be in want of a video blog. That’s where The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the interactive adaptation of Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, came in.
Thursday marks the 100th episode and series finale of Lizzie Bennet. Created by Hank Green and Bernie Su, this modern-day take on the Bennet sisters is told primarily through short vlogs by Lizzie Bennet on her YouTube channel.
In each episode, Lizzie (played by the charming Ashley Clements) talks directly to her camera about life in graduate school, her overbearing mother, the love lives of her sisters, and her hatred for the aloof hipster Darcy (Daniel Vincent Gordh).
To mark the 100th episode, a number few narrative web series achieve, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the series to DVD and to help fund future Web adaptations. Pemberly Digital set a goal of $60,000, which was reached in just three hours.
“It was crazy. It was absolutely insane to see it go that fast,” said co-creator Bernie Su.
It didn’t stop there—within 24 hours $200,000 was raised, more than tripling the original goal, which Su called “astounding.” And with 25 days left to go, Pemberly Digital should easily raise more than $300,000, which would make Lizzie Bennet Kickstarter’s best funded web series. Lizzie Bennet will be keeping Veronica Mars company as one of the top funded video projects on the site.
The Kickstarter success can be attributed to Lizzie Bennet’s extremely dedicated and engaged fan base. The series had an audience of thousands from the first episode, and that audience has stayed loyal ever since, thanks to the serialized storytelling, which Su says he is proud of.
“Its not like they just stumbled upon it and it went viral or whatever you want to call it, or shared if you watched it,” he said. “They came and they stayed and have been staying.”
Lizzie Bennet devotees also have embraced the series’ use of transmedia storytelling, which includes a fashion blog, Twitter accounts, and even an OkCupid account to enhance Lizzie’s version of Pride and Prejudice. Lizzie Bennet’s personal Twitter account even has more followers than the actress’s and series’ accounts, a result of fans’ attachment and fondness for the character.
Life on the DVD shelf isn’t the end for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, however. The series will remain on YouTube for new Jane Austen lovers to discover. The characters’ social media accounts will also stay active. As for new content, Pemberly Digital will unveil Welcome to Sanditon, a short interactive series based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, this May. This summer a new novel will receive a full YouTube adaptation. The book hasn’t been announced yet, but Su hinted that it will be like Pride and Prejudice in the “Austen-Charlotte Brontë female-driven genre.”
While the ending of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is bittersweet for Su and the rest of the cast and crew, with Episode 100, “we get to finish, we get to end it the way we want to end it, and that is really cool to me and I think it's hopefully its something that more Internet shows get to do in this format.” And thanks to the success of the series, more classic stories can find their way online for interactive adaptations.