Pride and Prejudice, the questionable hotness of Colin Firth, and how I came to actively root for Lydia Bennet.44
January 28, 2013 by Heidi
Ladies and Gentleman, I can hardly believe that we are gathered here on this felicitous occasion to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of none other than Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice! Yes, I have just finished watching the 1995 mini-series once again, and so Regency language is a bit stuck in my head at the moment, but I shouldn’t fret that it will remain there long.
Okay, so down to business. I could have chosen to celebrate this occasion by rereading my favorite of Austen’s novels, but instead I opted to go the lazy and slightly indulgent route. I decided to give over several evenings to watching the 1995 BBC mini series for the upteenth time and also to allow myself to wallow in a pit of obsession over what may have become my favorite adaptation of anything ever–The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. We best not speak of that other P&P adaptation. I won’t stop being your friend if you enjoy it, but I do request that you have the good grace not to talk about Kiera Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet in my presence.
So I could go on and on about how much I love P&P and why, but quite frankly, if you’re reading this you probably already have a pretty good idea of that already. Instead, let’s talk about a little lifelong dilemma called Colin Firth. See, I was but 11 years old when the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle mini series was released, which also just happens to be about the time that I started noticing that boys were attractive (who are we kidding, I’d been in love with Christian Bale since the release of Newsies 3 years prior–surprisingly it was Batman that killed that celebrity crush for me. You’d have thought it would have been American Psycho, but I’m undeniably charmed by murderers who sing show tunes. ANYWAY…). The thing is, to this day I am incredibly unsure if I find Colin Firth attractive because he’s Colin Firth, or because he’s Mr. Darcy.
I realize there are hoards of women out there who will argue themselves breathless over the unquestionable attractiveness of this man, but I myself am not so convinced–the two men are so inextricably tied in my mind. I forever look at Firth as adorably awkward and a bit of a prat who played the quintessential Darcy. He is, for all intents and purposes, the most popular book boyfriend of all time brought to life. How are the young women of this world supposed to know how to distinguish between fantasy and reality in such a case? The thought still plagues me with each watching of P&P–quite frankly, Colin Firth isn’t my type and yet…I love him. And those damned mutton chops.
BUT as stated, there’s a new contender in my heart for best way to obsess over P&P, and that, of course, is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Seriously, friends, if you have not taken the time to throw yourself into what is one of the most innovative, interactive, and ingenious story telling experiences out there, start here and I’ll meet you back in another 90 videos (don’t worry, the scary blush and eye shadow does calm down after a few videos):
There are so many wonderful things to be said about the story telling being done through The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but I want to focus on one aspect in particular–their ability to flush out the secondary characters of the story and enlist viewer’s full investment in them. I think we can all agree that in P&P Wickham is a rake and a scoundrel, but we were all so utterly annoyed with Lydia, that we end up feeling as if they deserve one another.
Remember when Lydia and Wickham are taking their leave of the Bennet family as a newly married couple and Mrs. Bennet says: “Write to me very often, my dear.”
Lydia’s response: “As often as I can. But you know married women have never much time for writing. My sisters may write to me. They will have nothing else to do.”
Don’t you just want to slap that smug little face? But the new Lydia isn’t like that at all, in fact, you can’t help but enjoy the adorbs. They’ve managed to make Lydia a character you can actively care about. Yes, she’s still ridiculous, a bit of a die-hard party girl that doesn’t share her sisters’ ambitions; but she’s also the baby of the family struggling to grow up and stay true to herself. She has a lot to learn about life, and we have seen her learn in the course of the LBD. Suddenly I’ve found myself wanting desperately for Lydia to have a real happy ending, one that involves gaining agency and making decisions that will remove that lecherous creep, Wickham, from her life. I don’t want to see Lydia become more like Lizzie and Jane–I want her to be who she is, but to also grow into herself as a person and come out better for it in the end. In fact, I don’t think I’d mind at all having her as a sister one bit.