Pride and Prejudice, the questionable hotness of Colin Firth, and how I came to actively root for Lydia Bennet.

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January 28, 2013 by Heidi

Marvel's Pride and Prejudice Vol 1

Did we know that there’s a Marvel graphic novel of P&P?! Checking this out stat.
Image via Marvel Wikia

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.

Colin Firth from Pride and Prejudice

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.

Lydia and Wickham

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.

Lydia Bennet from the LBD

How are you celebrating the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice?

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44 comments »

  1. Nicole says:

    I’m celebrating by staring at my computer and waiting for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries to update. *laughs* And by shamelessly posting quotes on every social media site I’m on!

  2. I’VE ONLY READ THROUGH THE SECOND PARAGRAPH, BUT HALLELUJAH, JUST SAY NO TO THE KEIRA KNIGHTLY “PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.” (I have way too many friends who love it.)

  3. michelle says:

    Oh, my goodness YES! to almost all of that! I hate that version of P&P with an unnatural intensity, to the point that I really and truly cannot comprehend how anyone who has ever read the book can in any way think there is anything redeemable about it. Ahem, moving on.

    How funny about Colin Firth! I’m with you. I didn’t watch adaptations of my favorite books for a long time (Little Women scared me in so many ways that I could never go back for more.) SO, I was a very stressed out junior in high school (2000) – avoiding working on Science Fair with my suite mate – the very first time I ever watched the miniseries. Our floor RA loaned it to us and allowed us to stay up past lights out to watch it marathon style. IF it hadn’t been such a ‘treat’ I would probably have stopped it after the first few minutes because NO ONE looked right. Now, though? Darcy is Colin Firth and Colin Firth is Darcy and I cannot separate the two.

    And my husband and I’ll probably marathon it again tonight – we do that at least once a year. (He can’t get enough of Mr. Bennet. Enough so that he quotes him at our kids.) :)

    • Heidi says:

      Oh, thank you, Michelle! Glad I’m not the only 2005 hater around. It’s just NOT well done. I realize they were working with time constraints, but ugh.

      Bwahaha, I understand your gun-shy attitude toward your favorite book adaptations. I totally feel ya there, but I feel like there are a lot of great ones out there (in fact, I love the 1994 version of Little Women). I’m openly jealous that your husband will watch P&P with you! Mine won’t…though in college we did get a bunch of guys to watch with us by turning it into a drinking game. 😛

      • michelle says:

        I’ve since opened up to remakes, I just have to know going in that I may have high blood pressure for the night. :) And I know how lucky I am that the Mr. watches P&P with me – BUT I am also completely serious about the quoting Mr. Bennet a lot thing. Whenever he thinks one of us have said something naive, he says, “You think that Jane,” or if I am super excited to tell him about something, he’ll pull the, “You want to tell me and I have no objection to hearing it” and the be all end all to tick me off, when I’m already mad about something, “I dare say, in a few years, you’ll have got over it tolerably well.” Yes, I am married to Mr. Bennet. :)

        • Heidi says:

          Hehe, I LOVE that your hubby quotes Mr. Bennet…it’s kind of fantastic. I love the “I dare say, in a few years, you’ll have got over it tolerably well.” line. Sigh. I actually got a bit snippy with mine the other night because he kept insisting P&P was only for girls and I kept sputtering about how the LBD is made by two men!

  4. So many things to discuss!

    Okay, I totally know what you mean about Colin Firth. I love him! But I am pretty sure I love him, because he was the best Mr. Darcy! Every Darcy-esque character will be compared to him from now on, I think. I didn’t watch 1995 P&P until I was a teen, but it was the first time I ever saw Colin Firth. So I always associate him as Mr. Darcy.

    Also, side note – NEWSIES! Totally obsessed here. I loved Christian Bale when I was a kid, but I don’t really crush on him anymore. And now, with the musical on broadway, I actually think of Jeremy Jordan as Jack Kelly now. I’ve seen it twice on Broadway, and I do hope to go again this spring/summer. I need to see how the new Jack Kelly is.

    Don’t hate me, but I like the 2005 P&P. And as I’ve gotten older, I don’t love Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie Bennet. I used to love her, but I’ve seen so many P&P movies now, that she isn’t my favorite. I think she smirks too much. But overall I LOVE 1995 P&P.

    And oh my gosh, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! I never thought I would look forward to Mondays so much :) I love what they’ve done with Lydia in LBD. I am so worried about her, and I want to smack that Wickham right out of the Bennet sisters lives. And I cannot wait to see today’s LBD with DARCY!

    • Heidi says:

      Right? I mean…he’s even Mr. Darcy in the loosely adapted P&P of Bridget Jones. How can we disassociate the two?

      I really want to go see the Broadway show of Newsies, Quinn! I was OBSESSED with Newsies as a child. Though, I also love love love the adaptation of Little Women where Bale was Laurie, so of course I was doomed to crush on the man for years.

      It’s okay! I know a lot of people who like the 2005 P&P, I just personally have so many issues with it as an adaptation, not the least of which is that I despise Kiera Knightly and want to force feed her all the sandwiches and send her to a speech therapist.

      Isn’t it wonderful to have something to look forward to on Mondays?! Today’s video is one of my FAVORITES thus far, it had me laughing so so much. And I’m excited to see Lydia’s video tomorrow as in the preview it looks sans Wickham.

  5. Hello lady after my own heart. I like your lazy version of a celebration – just my style! I’m planning on a rewatch of all my Pride & Prejudice related movies over the next few weeks, which of course includes the 1995 BBC mini series. I have to be honest and admit that I used to look forward to getting sick because it meant missing school and spending all day on the couch in the basement binge-watching the mini series.

    Also, I just discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries this week and I think I’ve moved beyond obsession into full-blown crazy in love. I spent all weekend catching up on everything I missed. Why didn’t anyone tell me about its awesomeness sooner?!

    I’d like to take a moment and admit to liking the 2005 adaptation AS A COSTUME DRAMA. It certainly doesn’t compare to the real thing and is incredibly flawed as an adaptation, but I genuinely love it just as a period piece. I just kind of separate the two in my head haha!
    I often wonder the same thing about Colin Firth. Do I love him for himself or because he’ll always be Darcy to me? I don’t know, and I’m clearly not too worried about puzzling out that conundrum.

    And I have to echo what you’ve said about the ability of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries to flesh out secondary characters. They’ve somehow taken one of my least favorite characters (Lydia) and given her real depth. They’ve also made me think about the fact that Elizabeth sort of frames readers’ impressions of Lydia, and it made me wonder if there’s more to book Lydia, too. Maybe not – but it’s made me wonder. And I am legitimately so concerned about her future. I know what happens to her in the novel, but I’m really curious how they’ll adapt that in our modern world.

    I also love Charlotte – and I think it’s so much easier to understand her difficult decision when it’s put in the context of a job. It makes her a lot more relatable and less disappointing, I think.

    Love your post, Heidi! And it makes me so happy that you’re an Austen lover too :)

    • PS – Have you seen these lovely versions? http://www.hup.harvard.edu/features/austen/

      They are my favorite!

      • Heidi says:

        I am going to be getting this from the library–it’s too gorgeous not to see in person (and then I’ll likely buy copies). 😛

    • Heidi says:

      I’m so happy to hear that you’ve recently discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Hannah! If only I realized you were out of the loop, I would have pushed it on you months ago.

      You assessment of the 2005 movie as a costume drama makes sense to me, I think if I ever sit down to watch it again I’ll have to give myself that mental preparation.

      I agree! We see all of the characters in the book as framed through Elizabeth’s eyes–in the LBD we can start to see them in other contexts, and I think that’s added incredibly depth to the story. I’m so worried about Lydia, but there is NO WAY she will end up with Wickham. I think they’re doing a great job of showing what an emotionally abusive relationship is like, in the modern world where these writers want to give power and voice to these characters who formally had none, I am hopeful for a much happier ending for Lydia. And yes, Charlotte is wonderful!

  6. I love your chatty posts! I agree wholeheartedly about Christian Bale and the Newsies. As well as the extremely thought provoking and difficult question as to whether Colin Firth is only attractive because we view him as Mr. Darcy. I know he himself never saw himself as a heart-throb, and I’ve tried to erase the image of him a la Bridget Jones Diaries in that terrible sweater. Anyway, I have NOT seen THE LIZZY BENNET DIARIES!! Clearly I need to fix that problem. I will have to look it up, because I have no idea what it is – a tv show? a movie? a mini-series? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I am so out of the loop. But I will be fixing that.

    • Heidi says:

      Hehe, thanks, Lauren! And terrible sweater or no, he’s STILL Mr. Darcy in Bridget Jones. That’s actually the best part about the books that was never in the movie…she obsessively watches the P&P scene with Firth swimming over and over, and completely embarrasses herself when she meets Firth in real life.

      And YES, you do need to fix this problem! It’s a web series, so all of the videos are uploaded to a YouTube channel. They’re about 2-6 minutes long, and there’s two videos a week. It’s really easy to just sit down and watch a couple at a time until you catch up!

  7. Goodness, I need to just set a day aside and watch all of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. As a self-proclaimed Austen fangirl, it is simply shameful that I’ve only seen a few episodes. Maybe I should do that tonight. Or this weekend.

    On Christian Bale, I am with you. He has played a bunch of creepy characters, like Patrick Bateman (who is called Batman once in the book when someone gets his name wrong, which is pretty much the best moment of the book), but, yeah, it’s Batman that’s a punch to the lady parts. It’s the Batman voice. It is the antithesis of sexy.

    On Colin Firth, I’m pretty positive that I wouldn’t be as interested in him were he not Darcy. He’s cute in a nerdy way, but not quite my usual type. Plus, he’s a bit old for me to normally fangirl over.

    Okay, so I do need to watch LBD. You have convinced me.

    • Heidi says:

      Oooh, I hope you do set aside time to catch up with LBD–it’s so fantastically done!

      And YES! It IS the Batman voice that totally killed my Bale crush for me. It’s just, well, yes, the antithesis of sexy.

      I think the only other role where I love Firth as much as I love him as Darcy is as Jamie in Love, Actually–I’d totally crush on him for that regardless of the Darcy status…but other than that I am unconvinced.

  8. Okay watched the first episode and LOLed. I am hooked (though admittedly I have been wanting to get hooked for quite a while)

    I know we are still bffs even though I ADORE the KN P&P but you know I don’t love her. You know it’s because….”I love…I love…Iloveyou..” I LOVE MATTHEW MACFADYEN!! He makes me SWOOONNNN!!

    Now stop distracting me…*runs off to watch more LBD*

    • Heidi says:

      Love of Matthew MacFayden is perfectly acceptable. 😛

      I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE WATCHING LBD. Seriously. You just Tweet me when you need to gush. Because you will.

  9. I have never watched the LBD either! I promise to do something about that because I find it hard to believe that ANYTHING can make Lydia likable:)

    Colin Firth. Hmmm. I am somewhat neutral in regards to his hotness. Liked him in the P&P miniseries and “Bridget Jones” well enough. But I have to say that I think I liked him best when he was and playing that slightly pudgy blocked writer in “Love Actually”;)

    And on the subject of Christian Bale, I must admit I’m a fan. Batman or not. I like him in every film. But I think his lesser known pics like the dragon fantasy “Reign of Fire” and the magician tale “The Prestige” are my absolute faves:)

    Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Bennet and P&P:))

    • Heidi says:

      Heather, I’d be surprised if this Lydia DIDN’T win your affection!

      I LOVE Colin Firth as Jamie in Love Actually. It’s probably my favorite roll of his, even more than Darcy. His story is my favorite in that movie.

      I never did see Reign of Fire, but I really liked The Prestige! I still like him as an actor, I’m just over my crush. 😛

  10. kit says:

    I just read Pride and Prejudice for the first time over Christmas (much to the horror of my Austen-loving friends), so it’s been fun to see all the 200 year anniversary stuff around today and be able to appreciate it! Ever since I finished the book, people have been recommending the Lizzie Bennet Diaries to me, so I might have to dive into that impressive number of videos… :) Great post!

    • Heidi says:

      Hehe, I think that it’s really easy to NOT read classics when there’s so many adaptations out there–you can always just watch the movie, so I get why people haven’t read this one. I couldn’t recommend LBD more!! It’s SO good, I’m ridiculously invested.

  11. I FINISHED LBD! 😀 Or rather, I’m all caught up! :) I have to agree, though, that one of the best aspects of the show is how likable the characters are, even people like Lydia. Even Charlotte can be seen in a much more favorable light and her position empathized with. I think it makes a lot of the decisions the characters in the book took seem much more realistic and understandable. Plus, it’s just so clever and funny! Yesterday, my mom walked in while I was watching it and now she’s hooked onto it too! 😉

    Also, in terms of Colin Firth, it is HIM who is incredibly attractive. Really. I had the same issue you did, but then I saw him in The King’s Speech and he was dashingly handsome in that and in Bridget Jones’s Diary. (Actually, his name is Darcy in that too, but I’m sure that had nothing to do with his looks…right?)

    I will hopefully celebrate today by writing my review for P&P (potentially) and watching Lydia’s videos on LBD. :) Wonderful post, Heidi!

    • Heidi says:

      I’m SO EXCITED that you got your mom hooked as well! Attaway.

      Actually, Bridget Jones is totally Mr. Darcy because of Mr. Darcy. They never explain it in the movie, but Bridget’s totally obsessed with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, which is hilarious. The only other movie where I find him really attractive is Love Actually.

      I hope you make it through this week without stressing out about Lydia as much as I have been. 😛

  12. YAY!!!!!!! Today’s episode was almost perfect for the 200th Anniversary. Just Lizzie & Darcy being happy. I love your analysis.

    When I re-read the novel that exact quote “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.” is what made me be like “whoa this is a very different Lydia than our Lydia”

    I think it’s important in a webseries to flesh out the secondary characters like Lydia & Gigi. In the original novel they weren’t very developed at all except as basic types.

    • Heidi says:

      Wasn’t it?! I loved Monday’s video. And yesterday’s for that matter, but in very different ways.

      And YES, I was watching the mini series, and it was really that line that struck me with Lydia as well. They REALLY changed her character. They still show her as incredibly self centered, but also as someone who just doesn’t realize it (like with Mary), she really cares about people.

  13. Holly says:

    You have just reminded me how much I want to see one of those P&P graphic novels in person. I’ve heard so-so things about the inside though so I probably won’t ever buy any of the volumes. Well, maybe just one. 😉

    • Heidi says:

      Hehe, yeah, I was really happy to see that my library has the graphic novel (or at least my county does, I can get it through inter-library loan). I’ll let you know!

  14. Oh yes! I love the LBD! Not sure I’d want Lydia as a sister though.

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

    • Heidi says:

      Hehe, well, I can understand that. I think she’s a pretty decent sister, even if she’s a bit crazy sometimes. 😛

  15. Brandy says:

    Everything about this is perfect.

    Though I do like Colin Firth but it has nothing to do with him being gorgeous. I totally can see the argument that he’s not, but I just like him. As an actor I don’t love all his roles but I adore watching him in interviews.

    The LBD have turned Lydia into quite the conundrum. I’m still worried about where they are taking her story…

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Brandy!

      YES, I LIKE Colin Firth, but I don’t think I’d be attracted to him if it weren’t for this role as Darcy. I think he’s a great actor who makes great movies, which is really more important than looks at the end of the day.

      I’m SO stressed out about Lydia at this point. I thought I was going to have a panic attack by Wednesday night. 😛

  16. Chachic says:

    “He is, for all intents and purposes, the most popular book boyfriend of all time brought to life.” -> THIS!

    Love this post, Heidi. I would love to watch the 1995 Pride and Prejudice but my copy is back home in Manila. Good thing the Lizzie Bennet Diaries is here to distract me. That last episode was perfect to celebrate the anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. So excited for the next episode. :)

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Chachic! I actually just purchased myself a streaming copy via Amazon Video because my copy was VHS and I don’t even have a VCR anymore. I have a feeling I’m going to be using it as a background movie quite often now that I have a usable copy.

  17. Nafiza says:

    So I just saw the latest LBD episode and omg, the feels! The shoulder touching, the eye contact, the general swooniness! And yes, Darcy is so darned pretty. Ahem. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to reread P&P but last night, I came across this clip of Richard Armitage reading North and South. And oh my goodness, Heidi, I think I’m in love with the man. I’m not too keen on Colin Firth, honestly. I preferred the other actor whose name I cannot remember but who was generally beautiful. And yes, Lydia is adorable and a lot like my cousin in this new adaptation which makes her a bit exhausting to be around but also at the same time, a lot of fun. Thanks for this! It was fun reading.

    • Heidi says:

      Right?! SWOON. Oh yes, isn’t the clip of RA reading N&S amazing? YES, I want him to play Darcy someday. Just, please. And I really do like Lydia, you’ve described her perfectly. Exhausting, and I’d get sick of her, but she’d also be a lot of fun a lot of the time!

  18. Reynje says:

    I seriously need to start watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.. I don’t know what’s wrong with me! However, totally agreed on the Keira Knightley adaptation :( I can’t bring myself to see her as Lizzie either. Love this post!

  19. […] posts from other book bloggers: Bunbury in the Stacks Things Mean a Lot Iris on […]

  20. Jamie says:

    Pretty much between people harassing me to watch LBD and this post…I think I know what I must now do!

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