Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Layers Of Skeeze

As a fan of Pride and Predjudice, I have been enjoying "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries".  I tend to be a little particular with spinoffs and adaptations, but I would rank this up there with "Clueless" in doing a wonderful job of remaining true to the spirit of the original, while also being an interesting modern story.
Now, obviously, many things have changed in the last 200 years, including the fact that being an unattached female caught unchaperoned with a male is not quite the danger to one's future that it used to be, even if there may have been a whole night involved. 
(I feel, I should note that I am writing this before the entire story has concluded.)
(Also, if you consider information about a 200 year old book a spoiler, or are not caught up on the videos, stop now.) 
So, the videos had the letter.  (Oh, the letter.)  And Elizabeth shared some of the information about Wickham and kept some of it private since it involved a third party. Now that she and Gigi have been working together, Gigi decided to tell the story herself. And as I watched I was struck by the interesting challenge presented by the combination of our more modern sensibilities and the aging up of Gigi. In P&P Gigi (aka Georgiana) is 15 when Wickham swoops in and attempts to elope with her in order to access her fortune.  In "LBD" Gigi is in college.  Now, certainly 15 in the time of P&P was entirely marriageable age, so I can see why the producers made the choice to make her more college-aged.  But, to me, the 15 always seemed a crucial part of that.  (Especially when you consider that Lydia is also 15, although again, in the book there is less distance between the two events. And Wickham does try to woo Elizabeth for a bit too. So he has range.) 
Certainly I didn't make perfect choices in my college years either. (Or after.) But, as Courtney Milan and others have pointed out, as presented in "LBD" this is now really about money.  It is in many ways the difference of being someone born into a fortune vs. someone who grew up in a fancy house, but was not rich themselves (which exists in PnP and I'm not suggesting that class differences was never part of it).  While we all know that person in the story who takes the check and agrees to stay away from their true love is always the bad guy or girl, it becomes a little less awful because when one does not, for example, have a place to live or a job.  It's really hard to turn down a big check in the best of times. 
Now, this isn't to say I have become a Wickham apologist.  There are still plenty of ways to be skeezy in the modern world (um, yay?).  It's still skeezy that he hopped from dating Lizzie to Lydia.  (In fact, considering the differences in what dating can entail in the modern world vs. a few hundred years ago, I would argue more skeezy.  I realize this happens outside of fiction, and I have to tell you, my sister and I have differing tastes, but I still can't imagine dating someone she dated.) He's also skeezy in his use of the same nickname for all his special girls.  And he's skeezy in the way he treats Lydia and tries to control her. In fact the "Heartbreaker" episode of "The Lydia Bennet" is almost textbook in it's depiction of controlling behavior. But it struck me how the differences in the modern version meant it took more pieces to make me really dislike Wickham, whereas in the original, it pretty much just took the letter.