The Unfortunate Downfall Of Pemberley Digital

It’s likely you don’t know what Pemberley Digital is or what they do. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries? No? Well, here’s the dealio:

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern web adaptation of the famous Pride And Prejudice. It’s done in the style of a vlog and it’s all on YouTube. I heard about it online from someone who thought it was real. I didn’t know anything about Pride And Prejudice (or vlogging for that matter) so I believed it too for the first 20 videos I watched. Eventually, I realized it was all thought out and scripted. In the LDB, Darcy managed a company called Pemberley Digital and now, the real-life company that made the LBD uses the name. Yes, they pulled a Starkid. 😛

Lizzie (in the center) with sisters Lydia and Jane (top and right, respectively) and best friend Charlotte (left)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was a huge hit. I had to catch up on the first 40 or so videos, but I got hooked and eagerly awaited the days when a new video would be uploaded. By the end, I was so in love with this series. I forced two friends to watch it and they adored it too. It was a fresh, unique and lovable way to present the popular story. It spawned a whole slew of classic book adaptations to Youtube, which is cool.

So why am I claiming a downfall to Pemberley Digital? Because it’s true. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries aren’t the only adaptation from this company. They’ve also done a few small spin-offs of LBD like The Lydia Bennet (I watched a couple then got bored) and Welcome To Sanditon (okay, admittedly, I never watched this and therefore know very little about it), Emma Approved (an adaptation of another Jane Austen book called Emma), Frankenstein MD (a short adaptation of Frankenstein) and they’ve recently finished March Family Letters (an adaptation of Little Women).

Emma Woodhouse and Alex Knightly. This picture is an accurate representation of their personalities.
Iggy (the sidekick) and Victoria Frankenstein doing some hardcore science.
Amy, Jo, Meg and Beth March making their first letter.

Aside from the small spin-offs, I’ve seen it all. And honestly, I’m not impressed. LBD was amazing. The acting was good and all the characters were cool. But since then, the acting has really fallen short. They seem forced and stiff, which makes the characters are becoming more and more annoying. It took me ages to like Emma Approved because Emma herself was annoying. I warmed up to her in the end especially when a more she was seen in a more vulnerable light, but as for her sidekick Harriet, I was never sold. She drove me insane. I did warm up a bit but still not enough. The same goes for Frankenstein MD. That was a walking cliché in itself, and the changing camera angles took away from its original vlog-like style completely, but I never really loved any of the characters. That being said, in the least spoiler-y way I can, I did feel the desired emotion in the end. And more recently with March Family Letters, I am just disappointed. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t read the book, but all the characters are just so forced and fake. Jo is just annoying, and why doesn’t Amy have lenses in her super hipster movie theater 3D glasses? While I can give props to the show for having LGBTQ characters and another with anxiety, I really had to force myself to watch the episodes.

That’s not to say that it’s total garbage, because it is not at all. People are loving it, and it is fairly entertaining all the same. I did end up loving Emma Approved after a while, and the stories do intrigue me enough for me to keep watching. A cool thing about Pemberley is that they effectively use social media. Yes, Youtube is the main mode, but all the characters have their own Twitters and Tumblrs and more, so really dedicated fans can follow their every move, as well as follow the cast of the shows. That’s pretty neat, if you ask me. There was also a book called The Secret Diary Of Lizzie Bennet, which was amazing.

I just wish Pemberley‘s Youtube episodes are as good as they used to be. Time and time again I am just disappointed and yearn for the awesomeness that we had in the early days. And I don’t think I’m the only one. I mean, look at these stats:

The large majority of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries videos are between the 400 and 600 thousand view marks, with a few going over a million. Emma Approved‘s videos mostly stay within the 100 and 200 thousand mark. Frankenstein MD started out over 100 thousand but then most of the videos are within 10 and 100 thousand. March Family Letters videos are between 10 and 20 thousand.

I mean, 10 thousand is a lot. I’d be over the moon if this blog got 10 thousand views on each post. But when the same people are getting 10 thousand when they used to get millions, it’s a sign. I hope the people running Pemberley are worried. I hope they’re looking at their view stats and looking at the response from fans and viewers and realizing that they need to change things. I’d suggest the acting. Like I said, it’s forced and weird. Why is most everyone so cheery and outgoing and comfortable in front of a video camera?

If you’ve never seen a Pemberley video, don’t let this post be a deterrent. I loved the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and suggest you watch all that right away, and Emma Approved eventually stole my heart too. And if you’re bored or have small chunks of time to kill (on a bus ride or something) then sure, give the others a shot. Goodness knows the views don’t hurt, and the stories aren’t all that bad.

Pemberley Digital started something amazing, and their way of storytelling is so innovative and new. I’ll still watch anything they put out because I do see the potential there. I just hope they can bounce back up.

Anyone have thoughts on the matter? Have you seen any of these series? Leave a comment with your thoughts! 🙂

(If there’s a limit to how many links can exist in a post, I think I hit it! You’re welcome!)

16 thoughts on “The Unfortunate Downfall Of Pemberley Digital

  1. I loved LBD and likes Emma Approved (not as much though), but I have no intentions of watching anything else for the moment. LBD were just a stroke of genius, and I find it hard that it could be replicated in the near future

  2. Agreed. A great cast, iconic story, good writing and a unique way of presenting made for something special. I hope Pemberley comes up with something as brilliant as that in the future, but it’ll be hard, as LBD was just SO good!

  3. Honestly, I liked Emma Approved better, maybe because I like he book more or I liked their Knightley more than Darcy. Emma is supposed to be annoying actually. And she was in he beginning. You are right tho, Welcome to Sanditon was boring, and I haven’t seen he other series yet.

    • Yeah, they did do a good job with Knightly. But I don’t think Emma was supposed to be annoying. I think she was supposed to be very positive and headstrong, but in a likeable way, but to me it came across as bossy and insane, and like I said, the acting seemed forced.
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  4. March Family Letters is actually created by a different production and Pemberley Digital just distributes/streams/uploads the videos. But I do agree with the rest. I love LBD and Emma Approved but I just wish Bernie Su and his team come up with something really good again.

  5. Important contextual notes though:
    – Emma is supposed to be annoying. Even Jane Austen herself said so.
    – FMD was produced in conjunction with PBS, so it wasn’t purely a PD production.
    – March Family Letters is being boosted/branded by PD, but it’s not the PD production crew making it – they’re a totally separate group of people.

    But I totally understand what you’re saying though. In many ways, nothing will ever live up to LBD for me, because 1) it was the first of its kind, and 2) P&P is my favorite book EVER, so it was just a very special thing, and no other webseries will ever feel quite like that experience for me. Also, now there are sooooo many, PD or not, and I’ve pretty much stopped watching entirely, because they all feel the same to me.

    • Alright, well, you’re the second person who’s told me that Emma was supposed to be annoying, so I guess they succeeded in that sense, but that doesn’t excuse Harriet!
      And I do realize FMD was PBS, but it was meant to be mostly the same, and it just didn’t work, I think.

  6. I have to agree myself. I liked LBD and Emma Approved (Emma’s honestly SUPPOSED to be that annoying, even Austen said she didn’t expect anyone but her to like her), but Frankenstein MD was such a disappointment. Which is awful because I was SO excited that they were doing it. A modern retelling of one of my favorite books where the lead is a woman? That should’ve been perfect for me. But there were some serious pacing issues, and I’m disappointed that they made the creature more like Karloff’s than the book’s (although I can sort of see why they did that; that kind of damage to his brain was probably the cause). I didn’t buy into the romance, and while the ending is quite explosive, I felt like I should’ve felt more due to loving the characters. One thing I liked was that this Frankenstein took responsibility a LOT sooner than the original one…although I’m honestly confused about how everyone was just OKAY with the fact that she had done this. It would’ve been so much more interesting if personal consequences beyond the deaths had happened.

    Funny thing is, a completely different company took this vlog storytelling format and, in my opinion, exceeded all of the above. If anyone else was disappointed in Frankenstein MD, or even if you just wish they had had a season 2 (apparently that’s a common complaint, go figure) and wishes for another spooky vlog story? I HIGHLY recommend Carmilla; it’s based off of a vampire novella that predates Dracula set in one screwed up college, and if you’re looking for great LGBTQ representation, you’ll find it there too. 🙂

    • I wasn’t familiar with any of the things that were adapted, so I wasn’t able to judge as much as you, but it’s unfortunate that you were so let down.
      After the huge success of LBD, a whole bunch of adaptations started popping up, but I didn’t watch any…my best friend watches Carmilla so I’m familiar with it. It’d definitely be what I’d go to first if I wanted to watch another adaptation.
      Thanks for commenting!

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