the fly in the lizzie bennet diaries ointment

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the lizzie bennet diaries - episode one
I've been watching the modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, since the very beginning... I first heard about it on Mashable, and the idea of translating a classic novel into a modern vlog was appealing.

While I have a passing understanding of the story (from the general pop culture zeitgeist which is Colin Firth in a wet white shirt as well as one viewing of an alternative reality version of the story, Lost in Austen), I really don't know what's going to happen next and have managed to remain essentially spoiler-free thus far... so I'm essentially discovering this story for the first time as it plays out every Tuesday and Friday morning (Australian time).

What has kept me engaged for the last 55+ episodes are the characters (all of whom have a Twitter account and the show also uses Facebook, Tumblr, Pintrest, LinkedIn and OKCupid to flesh out the characters in the digital world) and the actors who play them.

the lizzie bennet diaries - introducing jane
Foremost in that regard, other than the titular Lizze Bennet (played beautifully by Ashley Clements) is Laura Spencer who plays Jane Bennet. From her very first appearance as Lizzie's "practically perfect in every way" sister, I've been madly in love with Jane, and every appearance since has just made me love her a little bit more.

the lizzie bennet diaries - jane and bing being too cute

the lizzie bennet diaries - jane's broken heart
I smile every time she appears in a video. I almost died of cute when she and Bing Lee appeared together for the first time. And when Bing broke her heart and she had her on-camera "melt-down", I cried.

Even rewatching her performance without sound earlier in order to take these screen shots made me a little emotional.

the lizzie bennet diaries - charlotte, lizzie, lydia and jane
But all the characters are played brilliantly by a cast of relatively (or almost entirely) unknown actors. From the acerbic realist counterpoint to the titular Lizzie that is Charlotte Lu, played by Julia Cho, to the "lioness toying with a baby gazelle" of Caroline Lee played by Jessica Andres, every member of the cast feels real, and grounded in the real world.

Except for one.

the lizzie bennet diaries - mr ricky collins and lizzie
Yes, that fly in the proverbial ointment is Mr Ricky Collins, played by Maxwell Glick.

He's the only character that feels like a caricature or a cartoon of a real person when compared with the rest of the cast.

I get that Collins is supposed to be so incredibly pompous and full of himself that Lizzie wouldn't ever take his proposal seriously... I get that the show has a number of comedy elements, and I think Collins is supposed to come off that way... but he is essentially like nails down a chalkboard, and the character draws attention to how unrealistic he is ever time he turns up and starts spouting dialogue in a way that nobody I've ever encountered actually talks.

the lizzie bennet diaries - lydia totally pwnes ricky
Even the other character that can be occasionally grating, Lydia Bennet, was given a moment that made me completely empathise with the character and understand exactly who she was and where she was coming from, and actress Mary Kate Wiles gave such a raw performance that she won me over and allowed me to forgive some of Lydia's excesses.

Glick hasn't been given a moment like that for Collins.

I can't fault Glick for that.

Although while he's embodying the character, I'm guessing, completely as written, it's just that what's being written for him combined with the way he plays it is so incredibly unlikeable and grating.

the lizzie bennet diaries - mr collins being verbose
And I find it somewhat hard to believe that Collins would be taken seriously in the business world. Or maybe they don't let him meet with actual people...

As I said, I'm unfamiliar with the source material so I don't know how he's written on the novel, but I can't help thinking that in a lot of ways the writers (who overall do an amazing job, don't get me wrong) missed an opportunity to make Collins unpalatable to Lizzie in a different way.

the lizzie bennet diaries - the weird hand gestures of mr collins
Maybe he should have been too "slick", too polished and sure of himself, instead of being a clueless ball of bumbling verbiage. Maybe they could have gone the sleazy route (although I think that may have been done for other versions of the story)... Glick would do sleazy wonderfully well.

Maybe that would have seemed redundant next to the coming story arc with Darcy... I don't know (again, that lack of familiarity with the source material).

the lizzie bennet diaries - ricky's proposal to charlotte just seemed weird
But they could have made Lizzie seem more unreasonable, showed off both her pride and her prejudice of the original title, and made it more understandable as to why it is that Charlotte takes Collins up on his proposal.

I mean I understand her motivations... but even in the "proposal" episode that the screen capture above comes from he never dropped his verbose persona and let the real person underneath show through.

And that's really what I'm looking for in Ricky Collins... for him to let his guard down and show us that there's a real person under all that relentless talking who's as three dimensional and human as the rest of the characters.

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2 comments:

Victor Wednesday, October 17, 2012 5:23:00 pm  

I don't want to affect your enjoyment of this series Yani but in fact you will be more familiar with the plot of Pride and Prejudice than you imagine because variations of it have been used in many, many films.

SPOILER ALERT FOLLOWS


One of the most famous in recent years is xxxxxxxxxBridgetxxxJones'xxxDiaryxxxxxxx.

yani Wednesday, October 17, 2012 5:33:00 pm  

Like I said at the top of the post, I have a passing familiarity with the story, but it's the particulars of the original story I'm not clear on.

And while I've read BJD years ago, I've never seen the movie.

I'm just happy being surprised.

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