Lost in Austen: Pride and Prejudice once again

Recommended for it's ridiculous value by faithful reader Emmy, tonight I viewed the television miniseries Lost in Austen (2008). A young woman, Amanda, who loves Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice mostly for the perfect romance between Elizabeth and Darcy finds herself in the setting of that very book sans Elizabeth (they switched times, obvs). She disturbs the path that everyone should have been on to love, and takes turn making things worse and making things fit the Pride and Prejudice plot line. Many meta-hijinx ensue.

The best way I can express how I feel about Lost in Austen is that it's basically Kate & Leopold but longer and about 9234877 times worse because it uses the beloved characters of Jane Austen. Almost every character turns out to be worse and/or the exact opposite of the ones that you find in the book. Why, you may ask? I have no idea, but it never failed to make my roommate and I scream in delight and/or terror at every reveal.

But I think my biggest problem with this miniseries is that it can't decide what it's about. Is it about discovering that what we fantasize about isn't as great as it we dream it to be? Is it about discovering that what you have is good enough? Is it about helping others find their destiny? Or is it about falling in love with ideas and those ideas coming true? And why is there a secret door between a modern London flat and the Pride & Prejudice Longbourn attic? There are too many mixed messages for Lost in Austen to be taken as even a decent made for TV movie. So basically He's Just Not that Into You. At the end of Lost in Austen, it's completely unsatisfying and you end up wondering why you spent the last 3 hours staying up way too late watching it.

But that's not to say my night was completely wasted. I got some good roommate bonding in, mostly in the form of mutual yelling at the TV and writhing in pain. There were also some ridiculous moments that perhaps made me sympathize more with the lead character more than I would like. Case in point (spoiler warning, if you care to watch this), compare this past post to this scene:

I like to pretend I love the dip in the lake scene of the BBC adaptation because it in no way resembles the book and the awkwardness is so palpable, but let's be honest, wet-shirted Darcy = awesome.

Although, what makes Pride and Prejudice so satisfying in the first place is the slow building relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. It's satisfying and organic. This was just a mess where I didn't know who to root for and who was supposed to be good or bad. For what it's worth, I would have taken this rendition's Wickham. He turns out to be the Rhett Butler of the whole affair (that is to say, very self aware and honest about his own faults and those of others).

Hey, look! It's Mr. Wickham, and he's both adorable and awesome, so stop glaring, Amanda. (via)

So, if you have few hours to spare and don't mind great literature being perverted for mediocre purposed, give Lost in Austen a watch. I would just recommend watching it with Jane Austen loving friends. You don't want to watch this alone; that would just be depressing and as pathetic as the leading lady.


  1. THANK YOU! My mother had this for me on the DVR when I got home and after devoting a whole night to Amanda and her craziness I felt quite similarly.

    What on earth was going on with the Bingleys?? AND why didn't she just take off with Wickham?? Who was a far better catch than Mr. Darcy and less angsty teenager to boot.

    But yes, I guess it really all comes down to this: what was the point? Who conjured up this whole idea? At least Pride and Prejudice and Zombies had a clear concept and execution.

  2. I was recently made aware of this series and instead decided to read the book first. Lost in Austen, a chose your own Jane Austen advanture novel by Emma Campbell Webster.

    It is very amusing, especially since they include all of the Austen novels as options, so you don;t just have to choose Elizabeth;s life. I was very distraught when I was smothered with a pillow in a white attic by Fanny Price.

    And you are constantly getting Confidence points when you are praised and then mercilessly reminded that vanity is a sin and loosing all your fortune points! Quite a good read for a train ride. And I think it explains a bit of the lack-of-purpose of the miniseries.

  3. That book sounds delightful! But it came first? Who thought choose your own adventure would make a good movie? You don't get to make any of the choices? I mean, at least it sounds like the book has fun deaths.