A&E

Jane Austen: Not just for middle-aged ex-English majors anymore

“My name is Lizzie Bennet, and this is my life.”

If you imagine a nineteenth-century, witty 20-year-old woman who looks quite a bit like Keira Knightly when you read this sentence, you imagine wrong. Instead, picture a video blog featuring a 24-year-old grad student named Lizzie, whose life is a modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—and there you have the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, an interactive online show created by Hank Green and Bernie Su.

The show is presented in relatively short YouTube videos posted twice a week, but its online domain spreads even farther, with Twitter accounts, Tumblrs, and even Pinterest boards seemingly run by the different characters in the show.

In essence, it tries to make the characters as real as possible. After all, what real person is without their horde of social networking accounts?

The timing of the show is strategic, as Lizzie interacts with both characters in the show and fans alike. Even a seemingly simple occurrence like Darcy following her on Twitter sparks excitement from fans and confusion from Lizzie.

In the face of events like this, fans embrace their omniscience as they follow their own knowledge of the plot of Pride and Prejudice. The characters may not yet know what is to come, but that doesn’t stop fans from wholeheartedly shipping it.

While this level of social media inclusion is unique, even network television shows are becoming more and more interactive. BBC’s Sherlock, created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, presents the adventures of modern-day consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, army doctor turned blogger.

Fans of the show can actually visit “The blog of Dr. John H. Watson” as well as Sherlock’s less popular website, “The Science of Deduction,” to read posts and comments by the show’s characters. The same tactic is also used by Nickelodeon shows iCarlyand Victorious to allow viewers to get a glimpse of the characters’ virtual worlds.

By expanding into the realms of the Internet, fictional characters seem to take on lives of their own. While this may cause extra heartache for fangirls and fanboys, it still allows viewers of different shows to take a more active part in their watching.

Rather than relying on the show itself for satisfaction, fans can further explore plot lines and extra details online.

Because after all, who doesn’t love taking a break from the trials and tribulations of everyday life—that environmental science midterm, that essay on three books you haven’t even read—to imagine they’re someone else?

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Some years ago, a channel (BBC America, possibly) telecast a film : "Lost in Austen." A current Brit female fan is somehow transported to P and P's time, knows what is supposed to happen, and tries to guide some characters.

Where to get it? Don't know.

Pure Austen aficiandos may not like the liberties taken

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