Lost in Austen

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In a fit of Pride and Prejudice anniversary-inspired fangirlishness, I decided to rewatch the ITV miniseries, Lost in Austen (available on a Youtube channel near you!).

What a strange show to exist. And what a fantastic one too! The story focuses on Amanda Price, a normal modern-day London girl who is dissatisfied with her life and more than a little bit in love with the world of Austen's Pride and Prejudice. One normal day, Elizabeth Bennet appears in her bathroom. Turns out there's a doorway between the Bennet's attic and Amanda's house, and when she goes through the door to prove that it's all nonsense, it closes behind her and she gets stuck in the world of Austen's novel -- a world that is missing it's Elizabeth Bennet, stuck, as she is, in 21st century London. As the entire world of Pride and Prejudice starts to unravel, Amanda takes on the task of saving the world's "happy ending," while dealing with the absolutely unbearable Mr Darcy.

As I said, it's a bit weird, and a bit amazing. The opening ten minutes are somewhat awkward, as the show stumbles through its excuse for having a 21st century woman (and Austen fangirl) in this fictional regency world. But once Amanda is stuck in the novel, you can forget the conceit of getting her there and focus on the immense fun that ensues.

The show assumes that its viewers have a good working knowledge of the novel (another reason why I was surprised it was even made), and it definitely rewards those viewers with an incredibly enjoyable retake on the world they know so well. It has the sense of fun and anarchy, while also being respectful to the source material, and the juxtaposition between expectations of the characters and the reality is always entertaining. The show doesn't throw in a "modern girl" with the aim of showing how superior she is to these old-fashioned folks, or to suggest that these old ways are far superior to modern coarseness (despite what Amanda might initially think). It's an interesting clash of modern and regency, with a compelling take on characters old and new, all while being, at heart, a story designed to be as deliciously enjoyable as possible.

If nothing else, it's worth watching for the sight of River Song and Lord Grantham as Mr and Mrs Bennet.