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by Aymar Jean Christian
April 22, 2013 12:10 PM
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Forget 'Veronica Mars,' The Real Kickstarter Surprise is 'Lizzie Bennet'

Ashley Clements is Lizzie Bennet in "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries"
Soon after the Kickstarter campaign for "Veronica Mars" sparked a ton of conversations and debates, another woman-led project took the crowdfunding site by storm, raising its $60,000 goal soon after it launched.

The team behind "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," a YouTube-based adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice," have already raised $430,000 and counting, mainly by selling a DVD of the complete series (There are currently a few hours to go on the Kickstarter campaign, which can be found here). Funds from the sales will go toward a new Austen adaptation, "Welcome to Sanditon," based on the author's unfinished "Sanditon."

READ MORE: Experiencing 'Girls' Withdrawal? Here are the 14 Best Female-Centered Web Series

Where did "Lizzie Bennet" come from? Out of view of the mainstream media, the web series has racked up an impressive 180,000 YouTube subscribers, enough so that, right before DECA came in to take part-ownership of the show, it was self-sustaining (revenue paid for production).

DECA is a media company that provides programming for women across platforms.  According to a Gigaom report on the series, the DECA deal with "Lizzie Bennet" allows DECA to take over the administrative aspects of the show.  DECA co-owns the series and has a deal that ties them to future endeavors from the "Lizzie Bennet" producers. 

Of course, nothing could be more mainstream than Jane Austen. How did they do it? By telling a traditional story untraditionally. Like 2006's lonelygirl15, "Lizzie Bennet" started slow, taking its time with key plot points. This built up anticipation for how the series would handle plot points Austen fans knew were coming, like keeping William Darcy offscreen until #darcyday and hyping their first encounter with aplomb. The writer, Bernie Su ("Compulsions"), also modernized some story lines, like making Collins ask Lizzie to join a startup, rather than his hand in marriage. The result is one of the most fan-driven web series since its predecessor in lonelygirl15.

The success of "Lizzie Bennet" signals the possible maturation of women's programming in web video. Even as advertisers and networks continue to see online as a way to reach young male viewers, producers like "Lizzie Bennet"'s Hank Green and Bernie Su, now with the help of DECA, have been proving how women, particularly young women, respond to web originals as well.

READ MORE: Don't Know Which Web Series to Watch? Here are the Best of 2012.

Watch the first episodes of "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" below:

Bryce J. Renninger contributed reporting to this story.
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  • j lov | July 15, 2013 7:25 PMReply

    wow. i am amazed to read the comments and see that people thought it was a pretty good webseries. i couldn't watch more the two minutes of it without cringing so badly i had to stop.
    i loved the book, the movies and good adaptations of it.
    this was painful.

  • lorraine | April 22, 2013 7:29 PMReply

    This was a magnificant web series. The cast was so entertaining and amazing actors. So excited for Sandition because the actress who plays GiGi Darcy (Allison Paige) is such a brilliant actress and also so beautiful to look at!!!! Can't wait

  • Carl W.Goss | April 22, 2013 7:20 PMReply

    It was a good show. I would like to have seen separate actors for the roles of Eliz. Bennet's parents. I like JA and can't wait to see what they do with Sanditon. Persuasion might work. Emma would work great. Mansfield Park? Maybe.

    Los Angeles

  • Cece | April 22, 2013 6:51 PMReply

    But fans of Veronica Mars grossed a million in less than 24 hours baby

  • Eric | April 22, 2013 8:14 PM

    Veronica Mars was also a television series with a lead actress who's now an A-lister. They were going to make their money and the speed of it was indeed a surprise, but there was no question that they were going to make enough to make the movie.

    But Lizzie Bennet getting $450,000+ and becoming the fourth-highest funded film/video project of all time? Who even remotely suspected that?

  • Christa | April 22, 2013 6:33 PMReply

    What a great picture of Ashley in the header *derp*

  • jason | April 22, 2013 5:15 PMReply

    bernie su was "a writer" (and showrunner) not "the writer" of lizzie bennet. and i don't know if you can call it "a woman-led project." yes, the main character is female, but the two exec producers, as with v mars, are men. sounds misleading.

  • jason | April 23, 2013 2:17 AM

    (reposting because i accidentally posted this under the wrong comment)

    yet this article only mentions the men. only gives credit to the men. they can't say it's a women-led show and then completely leave out mention of any of the women involved.

  • Maria | April 22, 2013 6:03 PM

    Most of the writers (and over half of the cast, for that matter) are women; I'd consider this a step in the right direction.

  • Tom | April 22, 2013 5:39 PM

    Incorrect. Bernie is showrunner and Exec., but Hank Green largely stays out of the evolution of the show. Margaret Dunlap is co-exec of Lizzie Bennet as well as all spin-offs and also wrote more episodes than Su, and Rachel Kiley wrote all of Lydia's channel vlogs. Jenni Powell is not only producer -- running the actual nuts and bolts production -- but was very much involved with casting.

    There was also a 4-2 split on the writing staff, with four women and two men. This is a very female-driven series.

  • Jazz | April 22, 2013 5:09 PMReply

    As a fan, I can say that I'm proud of what this show has achieved thanks to the hard work of everyone involved. So it makes me awfully glad that the Kickstarter proceedings will be used to compensate the cast and crew, in addition to funding future adaptations. Because if it weren't for Lizzie's success, I doubt future projects would be possible. So yay LBD! You rock! :)

  • jason | April 23, 2013 2:16 AM

    replied in the wrong place. that was meant to go under tom's comment. sorry about that.

  • jason | April 23, 2013 2:14 AM

    yet this article only mentions the men. only gives credit to the men. they can't say it's a women-led show and then completely leave out mention of any of the women involved.

  • RuthO | April 22, 2013 4:54 PMReply

    "Particularly young women"? I'm 54 and never missed a post of the LBD. I think your demographics need an update.

  • Anna-Lena | April 22, 2013 5:28 PM

    The Key Demographic of LBD were young women though, so they're actually 100% right, they didn't say that that was exclusively who watched the show, but it was the majority

  • Matt | April 22, 2013 12:21 PMReply

    I watched the whole thing from the beginning as it was posted and it's pretty good. They managed to transfer the story well, develop the characters interestingly, and actually make the story seem rather new and accesible.

  • Shervyn | April 25, 2013 10:46 AM

    You say that as if Pride & Prejudice is not accessible. It is one of the most accessible books in the world.