Yes to all of these, especially the first two (well, three. This Darcy is wonderful, but also wonderfully not the main attraction). There’s so much I enjoy about this series: the in-jokes about Colin Firth and how everyone always forgets about Mary Bennet; Lydia’s sidekick-sister Kitty Bennet is an actual cat, while Anne de Bourgh is her mother’s literal lap-dog. The casting is quietly diverse and much of the acting is great; I was impressed to learn that Darcy was only cast half-way through the series, since Daniel Gordh managed to perfectly inhabit the character that everyone else had been impersonating for 50 episodes. Lydia is more than reckless and silly; she’s fun, and sweet, and just young. (The friend with whom I started watching LBD compared Mary Kate Wiles’s Lydia to Kenzi, the young exuberant sidekick who’s the best part of Lost Girl.)
This is a real modern update, one that really gets the time to worry about more than finding appropriate boys for all of the heroines. Lizzie’s relationship with her friends and her sisters, and her efforts to figure out a career and a future and who she wants to be, are all as or even more important than who she ends up with or even whether she ends up with anyone. And Lizzie’s relationships with the women in her life, whether her sisters or her mother or her friends, all get more screen time than her relationship with her destined soulmate.
Most of the characters get to be nicer, but still interesting, versions of their book originals, including Mr. Collins and Caroline Bingley. And I especially love that both Charlotte and Lydia are three-dimensional characters and get to be more than cautionary tales for Lizzie. Most versions of Pride and Prejudice, including the book itself, frame Lydia’s downfall as, “Isn’t it awful what Lydia’s mistakes and Wickham’s malevolence could do to the Bennet family and the fortunes of Lydia’s sisters?” The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is one of the first versions to really frame Lydia’s downfall as, “Isn’t it awful what Lydia’s mistakes and Wickham’s malevolence could do to Lydia?”
My main quibble is kind of inevitable for a modern updating of Pride and Prejudice, especially one that revolves around new media and tech companies. (And it’s one that’s particularly hard for a business journalist who’s covered tech companies to ignore.) For all the use of YouTube and Twitter and Tumblr, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries appears to exist in a world without tech gossip blogs or Gawker or publicists. This William Darcy is the CEO of a Silicon Valley media company, and a grad student starts making popular YouTube videos about how much she hates him - okay, I could suspend my disbelief thus far. And it’s sweet and noble and romantic when a spurned Darcy, finally finding out that Lizzie has been slandering him by name to hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers, tells her he’s not going to sue. But somehow I doubt the lawyers and public relations staff of his apparently well-established company would agree with that decision.