Last week, I took us all on a journey into the wacky nonsensical world of Lost in Austen, the bad fan fic that gives bad fan fic a bad name. (It’s really bad, okay?) And, if you spend all of last week cringing with me…. I hope you saved some of that cringe because… oh sweet summer children, what do you know of stupid?
Stupid is for Episode Three.
We open with Amanda, our protagonist is is totally not a Mary Sue, trying to break the magic door open with an axe. But since she fails at everything, it doesn’t work, so she just yells at it.
In the same realm of maturity, Mr. Bennet is having a tantrum to his wife. He’s super upset that Jane, who just married Mr. Collins, if you recall, offered herself up as a human sacrifice to try to repair the consequences of twenty years of his not giving a fuck. Also I think this is a sudden revelation, because, like, did he not have the power to stop this? We just saw him at the wedding at the end of the last episode.
In any case, I think he’s punishing Mrs. Bennet by withholding sex.
Then he goes up to the attic to give Amanda some money, because he apparently can’t prevent her being kicked out either. What the fuck happened off-screen to change the power dynamics in this marriage?
So… if you guys want me to pinpoint a moment where the stupid just became overwhelming and there was no hope whatever that there will be any quality entertainment here; this is it.
It’s the morning after Jane and Mr. Collins arrive in their new marital digs, and they’re still in their pyjamas. Collins comes in and smarms all over her. She’s visibly repelled by him, by the way. He tells her… are you sitting down? He tells her that he’s not going to fuck her at the moment because he’s doing some kind of bullshit, anachronistic religious purity fast thing.
Like, where do I start? Married people not having sex being framed as a good thing was just not a Church of England thing. Ever. And even if they did encourage their clergy to “fast” in this manner, what kind of idiot would get married in the middle of one? They seem to want to act as though Mr. Collins is some super pious nonconformist, which… no. The whole point of this character was that he represented the worst of the clery in the established church. He couldn’t give a shit about about his pastoral duties. All he cares about is money and social climbing.
This is a critical mass of stupid. The only good thing about it is the obvious difficulty the actor playing Collins is having taking his lines seriously.
Meanwhile, Bingley has gone full emo, moping about, whining that he doesn’t get to be with Jane… after he dumped her. Like, Darcy wasn’t holding a gun to your head, dude. It looks like their bromance is in trouble. Oh noes!
Mrs. Bennet finalizes Operation Kick Out Amanda by telling her not to corrupt her daughters on her way out the door. I support this; Amanda is horrible. Case in point, she’s soon goes crawling to Wickham, who’s hanging out in his leather pants already.
She tells him about her predicament, that is, only having one pound to her name, and they decide to run a con together. On Lady Catherine de Bourgh. I think it’s like an Affair of the Necklace kind of thing where they pretend to be more socially connected than they are? They pool their money together to buy her a dress. Though we find out later that it must have been more than one dress. Whatever.
Amanda then crashes Jane’s new house, and after minimal platitudes, Jane forgives her for ruining her life. Probably because Jane is so miserable that she would have hugged Joseph Stalin at this point. Collins comes in and Amanda easily manipulates him into letting her come to see Lady Catherine.
They go to Rosings and I’m finally ready to articulate something that’s been bugging me: people keep wearing day clothes in the evening. Like, this series has generally nice costumes and high production value, but there are these random, basic details that they totally miss. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it reminds me of GoT.
They meet Lady Catherine and, like, she’s fine. She’s Lindsay Duncan. The writer doesn’t seem to get that she’s supposed to be a ridiculous figure, but whatever. Oh, and Darcy is there. And so are the Bingleys? What?
Amanda ingratiates herself to Lady Catherine by making up these bullshit French aristocrats and saying they asked her to send a message. And she falls for it? For some reason? Did she think she met a French princess then forgot about it? Maybe she’s really dumb.
And Amanda has no idea how to use a fan.
Everyone sits to listen to Caroline play the piano and sing (quite well) and Amanda and Darcy have a slightly ridiculous conversation. I can’t even say about what, because it was that inane, but I think the gist if supposed to be that she’s doing better now, and is less like a fish out of water? Except she’s not acting any differently. She says “sir” from time to time.
Back in Longbourn, Mr. Bennet is still throwing a tantrum and refusing to come out of his library. Mrs. Bennet tells him she tired of his bullshit and is going to take Lydia and go visit Jane. Mr. Bennet somehow thinks that he’s the victim in this situation.
Back in Kent, Darcy storms into Mr. Collins’s house, despite his objections, and starts yelling at Amanda about why she’s stalking him. Their conversation is really inane again, but it’s enough for Jane, who’s sulking in the corner, to declare that he’s totes in love with her. With Amanda, not with Jane. But it would make just as much sense, so why not.
Jane tells Amanda that she’s a good person and she deserves to be happy. Which… have I mentioned that Amanda is a bit of a Mary Sue?
Mrs. Bennet and Lydia arrive and they all go have dinner at Rosings.
Lady Catherine has this plan to set up all the Bennet sisters with Mr. Collins’s brothers. It becomes a whole thing. And at some point, Amanda calls Caroline a “bumface.” Yeah, her behaviour is super improving. But Lady Catherine is impressed. She calls Amanda “formidable.”
Bingley is still drunk and miserable, and this makes Darcy realize that he was wrong about him and Jane, and he feels bad. So he goes to running to Amanda and apologizes to her. He, like, begs her forgiveness. And invites her to Pemberley.
Oh, and shenanigans, Mrs. Bennet is invited too. And the Collinses, I guess, because they come as well.
At Pemberley, which is played by Chatsworth because I guess that’s official now, we meet Georgiana Darcy. She’s arranging beads and noticing how her brother is clearly randomly in love with Amanda all of a sudden. He goes to greet Amanda (in a scene that’s ripped off from the 1995 BBC adaptation even though the context is not at all the same) and he turns into an adorable puppy. This is so motivated, you guys. Like, no. I didn’t skip an episode. Darcy is suddenly in love with Amanda for no reason.
Amanda hears that Wickham is there so she goes to the stables, because I guess this is for her to resolve. But Wickham is just being a mensch and bringing home a drunken Bingley. And that apparently means that he’s invited to stay now because some time later they’re having a shooting party, and he’s there, sitting at the table outside.
All the dudes are shooting helpless birds (out of season, but who cares about those little details) and there’s an actually a little funny bit where Collins is a n00b with a gun and starts pointing it at people. Like, it’s funny in isolation.
Also, Bingley starts to randomly hit on Lydia. Why not?
Amanda is walking around, she does that a lot this episode, and she runs into Darcy literally posing and brooding. He confesses his love in the manner of a drug addict trying to score his next hit. She pays all this lip service to the fact that she’s trapped in a novel and probably shouldn’t be committing to a relationship right now, but she ultimately goes for it.
And what’s the first thing she asks when he’s all hers? Would he please jump in a fountain with just his shirt then pop out?
It’s true love.
Amanda asks him if he’s in love with the early, vulgar Amanda, or the more recent Amanda who we’re told is less vulgar, but is exactly the same in every way that I can tell. Like, she hasn’t developed enough to figure out that she should do something about that fugly hair so… But yeah, she convinces herself that this situation is a good idea.
She continues to wander around and this time she runs into Mrs. Bennet, who’s crying about how miserable her daughter is. Amanda tries to teach her about feminism, or something, by saying that women don’t need to endure shit, they can change it. For example, when Amanda gets married to Darcy, she’ll change the situation by using her husband’s money to buy Longbourn for the Bennets. Yay!
Elsewhere, Bingley is being drunk and playing with guns. Who the fuck gave him a gun? He’s still all tortured about the woman who got away through no one’s fault but his own, and when his friend tell him to get a grip he punches him in the mouth.
I can see why Jane is sad she lost him.
Caroline pops up and points out to Darcy that he knows nothing about this weird woman who came out of nowhere with her ugly hair. Darcy looks like this is a revelation to him.
Amanda is still randomly walking around the grounds of Chatsworth and this time it’s Lydia’s turn. They talk about the fact that the place that Amanda comes from is quite different. Thrilling.
Even more random wandering around another person’s house! Now she’s run into Georgiana, who has stayed inside in this one room this whole time. Amanda mentions Wickham, and Georgiana, with little prompting, tells us what “really” happened. Then I barf.
You see… Georgiana’s nurse was into Wickham and contrived to be in a situation where she ran into him. Georgiana is also in love with him, so she threw herself at him, and he was like “you’re a kid, no.” So she went to her brother and claimed Wickham raped her. And that’s what “really” happened. Isn’t that charming?
Then we never see Georgiana again for the whole series.
Outside, Mr. Collins is telling everyone about his improbably named brothers and trying to set one of them up with Lydia. She’s as into in as you would imagine.
Guess what Amanda is doing? And Darcy is being broody again. He asks her to tell him about her past. Her sexual past. Amanda starts to talk about how he’s her ideal man. She judged all other men against him all her life. But then she let’s slip that she’s not a virgin, and he immediately rejects her.
This is so romantic, you guys! Especially when Darcy tries to frame it as “poor me!”
Amanda, understandably for once, is really pissed and tears up her Penguin paperback copy of Pride and Prejudice and throws it out the window.
Did you guys save some barf from the false rape accusation? I hope so.
Caroline pops into Amanda’s room and reveals that her brother told her all about Amanda’s lesbian secret. (Remember that?) And, guess what? It’s Caroline’s secret too.
I have kind of mixed feelings about this. Well, my feelings on the execution are all bad, but as a concept, I don’t hate it. I get what they’re trying to go for with the taking of classic characters and showing a side you wouldn’t expect, and transforming the narrative. You know, fanfic, but I just can’t get behind this scene.
Firstly, Caroline immediately starts hitting on Amanda, touching her hair and speaking softly. So either this is another character inexplicably falling in love with Amanda randomly, or this is a case of that thing that always happens in fiction. Where whenever a wlw encounters another, they must instantly want to fuck each other. Those gays, amirite?
Secondly, it’s clear that this is supposed to be funny. Like, Caroline is talking about how the society she lives in is forcing her to get married to a man and go through all the motions her whole life when that’s the opposite of her own desires and will no doubt make her very unhappy, while plinky music plays and we get lots of reaction shots of Amanda looking uncomfortable.
Then, as Caroline leaves, Amanda says “Jane Austen would be fairly surprised to find she’d written that!” Are you sure about that? I think that says a lot more about Amanda’s lack of imagination than Jane Austen’s. Lesbians didn’t just magically appear in the last forty or so years.
I think this just mostly pisses me off because Christina Cole is a good actor and I would totally watch a show with her playing a lesbian navigating British High Society in the late-Georgian period. Instead I get this bullshit.
Amanda leaves that without anymore comment and goes to find Wickham in the stables where he’s polishing his leather pants. She praises him for letting Georgiana get away with a false rape accusation because it was so great of him to protect her.
That’s one way to look at it.
And I have a question. If Darcy thought, for one moment, that Wickham had raped his sister, how the hell could he have allowed him to stay in his house? And don’t say he was saving face and his sister’s reputation. He’s willing to snub him in public. Is he not concerned for her immediate physical well-being?
Anyway, Amanda tells Wickham about how she declared her love to Darcy and was honest with him and all that. But that her ruptured hymen is apparently a deal breaker. Wickham is super sympathetic and say, like, “yeah, the dude’s kind of a jerk.”
Back outside and Darcy confronts Amanda because he found the pieces of her Penguin paperback and thinks that it’s a roman à clef that’s she’s written. Yes, he’s that stupid. Like, he’s not more interested in the fact that it’s a 21st century paperback that looks nothing like any book he’s ever seen?
Amanda seems as exasperated with his moronicness as I am. She starts yelling about how he misjudges everyone, like Wickham and Georgiana, for example. And that he’s misjudged her too.
Well yeah, maybe he did when he thought it might be a good idea to marry her for a hot second.
Anyway, Amanda stalks off and it’s super dramatic.
That’s the end of the third episode, and I think we can all agree that it was super special. It’s as though someone had challenged themselves to fit as much offensive ridiculousness into 42 minutes as possible.
As the next episode starts, Amanda is telling herself that if she starts walking across the countryside (if you read P&P you know that the nearest town is five miles away) “the worst that can happen is I die!”.
But instead she goes to the drawing room, or whatever, just in time for Darcy and Caroline to announce their engagement. (Seriously, maybe ten minutes have past.) What is wrong with these people?
Equally well-motivated, Bingley and Lydia have run off together to be emo. Mrs. Bennet gets Lydia’s letter about this (does that mean they JUST left?) and is rather reasonably freaking out. To calm her down, Amanda convinces her that it’ll be fine, and that they’ll get married, though she doesn’t believe it. Mrs. Bennet, becomes all cheerful and decides to go to Longbourn.
Before they go, Amanda goes back to the drawing room where Darcy is immediately all passive aggressive and “Aren’t you going to congratulate me?” And the dude needs Amanda to tell him that his BFF has run off with one of his guests from under his own roof. That sounds like Darcy.
Mrs. Bennet and Amanda warp to Longbourn and three of Mr. Collins’s brothers are there, for some reason. I have no explanation for why these characters exist. Only one of them even has a line.
Amanda manages to get a word in over Mrs. Bennet’s gushing about Lydia getting married long enough to point out to Mr. Bennet that, yeah, that married part’s probably not going to happen. So she has a freakout while he… doesn’t give a fuck. He’s totes cool with his daughter ending up in the poor house (if she’s lucky) until Amanda yells at him a bit. Then it’s all “Let’s go to Hammersmith and save her!” (They know Lydia and Bingley are in Hammersmith because that’s where they can be weirdos like Amanda… it’s stupid.)
So they get in a carriage and go there and… Wickham is waiting for them? Not only did he magically know they would show up, he also magically knew to cover for Amanda. Since, you know, she’s not actually from this Hammersmith. Have no fear, though, George Wickham is here to make up some parents for her who have conveniently fucked off to Bath and shut up the house. He tells her he’ll always have her back.
Oh, and he knows which inn Lydia and Bingley are in.
If this reminds you of Darcy’s actions to save Lydia in P&P… you’re not alone. And that’s like, maybe not offensive. But it’s stupid. Like, yeah, let’s champion the character that tricked the sixteen-year-old into having sex with him.
Mr. Bennet is now as much a Wickham-stan as the writer appears to be. He asks him for his help in saving his daughter, and Mrs. Bennet lampshades how “fortunate” this all is.
So Lydia and Bingley are literally chilling in a room in the inn being bored. Lydia starts crying as soon as she sees her mother and Mr. Bennet is like, “Yo, Charlie, why is my daughter crying?”
Bingley guesses that she’s… just bored. You see, he’s been reading Rousseau (like, actually, he name drops him) and he’s decided that a village just down the Thames from London, which was quite a manufacturing centre at this time, would be a great place to go “back to nature.” He’s even making a spear out of a stick.
Then Darcy randomly shows up. What the fuck is this? He sees everyone there, and tries to ineffectually cover up for Bingley and Lydia to Mr. Bennet, acting as those they’d all been hanging out together. Because running off with two guys is so much better than running off with one?
Bingley is offended, OFFENDED I tell you! at the idea that anyone would imagine that he brought a vulnerable young woman here so that they could have sex.
This level of stupidity finally makes Mr. Bennet go nuts and he grabs a sword from the wall and challenges Bingley to a duel. Which is… not at all in character, but I guess he’s in extreme stress. The idea that Mrs. Bennet thought he would do something like this in the novel was one of the things that made her ridiculous, but whatever.
Some slapstick ensues and Mr. Bennet ends up cracking his head against the wall and starts bleeding copiously. Everyone is all in a tizzy. Bingley manages to feel sorry for himself some more, and Darcy thinks it’s a great time to send for his doctor in London.
Dude, he’s bleeding out.
Wickham and Amanda are, obviously, the only calm, rational ones in the room. So they have a conference and decide that Wickham should go get an abortion provider around here that he knows, and have her do stitches. Amanda says the most important thing is for Elizabeth to be with her possibly dying father.
So then the magical realism pops back into place and the next door she goes through takes her through the door of a porta potty in 2008 Hammersmith.
The first place she runs to is her boyfriend’s flat. And, all things considered, he’s a mensch. Not only does he agree not to ask any detailed questions about the time travel thing, but he also tells her about all the things he’s done in her absence to prove his commitment. Like sell his motorcycle, and book them a vacation so they can talk about their future.
Amanda is touched. And they’re off to find Elizabeth. Amanda’s roommate got her a job as a nanny.
On the way, Amanda sees Darcy in the crowd. He’s followed her through the magic door. He asks her what this horrible place is, and she tells him it’s where she’s from.
Darcy takes this rather well. He suddenly, and with very little prompting, declares his love. He says he’s totally been in love with her all along. Every since that assembly in Meryton when she got drunk and lied so she could dance with him.
To say this is unearned is the understatement of the year.
And now they’re off to find Elizabeth. For some reason they ditch Amanda’s boyfriend and take the bus. And this is an an opportunity for “Komedie!” as Darcy acts as inappropriately as Amanda did in the first episode. He embaresses himself by reacting to a black man and calling him a “negro”. Hooray!
You know, black people existed in the Georgian period too. Just like lesbians. Yes, even in Britain.
They get to the house where Elizabeth is working and, oh boy, it’s time for more fun.
We see Elizabeth’s sassy new pixie cut and get to hear all about her macrobiotic diet. When Amanda tells her about her possibly dying father, she starts going on about how she has to turn off all the appliances before she goes, because her employers are very concerned about their carbon footprint.
Like, okay… I’m biased. I’ve never seen the appeal of “Modern AUs.” Not to hurl mud at anyone who enjoys them, of course. But I can see how it would be a really useful exercise because it really forces you to focus on the characterization. (Though, character and setting are often rather inseparable, in my opinion.) But what is it about Elizabeth Bennet that makes anyone think she would be like this in our time period? A fad diet? Seriously? She would have a blog making fun of those. This is not made better by the fact that she still speaks in that faux-old fashioned way that no one ever spoke ever.
Amanda says Darcy’s name, and Elizabeth’s interest is piqued. She’s read Pride and Prejudice while she was here, you see. So she shows Mr. Darcy a Geocities web page with Colin Firth in it.
They all head out, and Amanda’s boyfriend and her roommate show up. (The roommate is an entirely superfluous character. Which is quite comfortable, considering she’s the only PoC in this thing with a speaking role.)
Anyway, the boyfriend and Darcy get all catty with one another. I’m not sure why. The boyfriend punches him in the face. Who will Amanda choose?!
They get back to the magic door in Amanda’s bathroom, but it’s doing this thing where it won’t open unless Amanda comes too. But Boyfriend, who hasn’t heard the part about how they’re trying to get a woman to her possibly dying father, I guess, tells Amanda that if she goes through that door, then they’re officially broken up!
Amanda calls him an idiot and goes anyway. Because she’s stupid, but not that stupid. Well, that’s that love triangle resolved!
Once back at Longbourn, the urgency of the possibly dying father evaporates, and Darcy is all “I need sleep.” Elizabeth sets him up in a guest bedroom and them has a convo with Amanda. They talk mostly about how shit is backwards, and how Amanda has ruined Charlotte Lucas’s life.
I must say, the actor playing Elizabeth, (her name is Gemma Arterton) is also way too good for this. Even in jeans and a hoodie, not to mention her ridiculous dialogue, she manages to have a more time-appropriate bearing than Amanda.
Then we’re treated to a scene of Amanda creeping over Darcy while he sleeps. It’s creepy.
Then, a still slightly loopy Mr. Bennet arrives, and so do Jane and Collins. Elizabeth meets Collins and is shocked that he’s married Jane. Since she read the book, not because he’s a horrible husband or anything.
She has a scene with her dad where she slathers Purell all over his head wound. Which I guess is not stupid. Nobody liked sepsis.
Meanwhile, Wickham propositions Amanda. He’s all, “So, Miss Price, where are you sleeping?” But she kindly rejects him. Well that’s that love triangle resolved!
The next morning, Darcy wakes up and thinks it was all a dream. Or else he hopes that that crazy woman with the bad hair kissing him in his sleep was just a dream. He’s a tad rude and starts talking about wanting to get out of there.
Then he and Elizabeth go for a stroll, and she’s pedantic about the names of herbs.
Suddenly, we hear that Lady Catherine has popped up at Longbourn, Bingley is hiding in the garden, and Caroline is sulking in the carriage. Because she’s been engaged for, like, a day and it’s already in the shitter.
I think it’s a day. Did I mention the timeline makes no sense?
Jane finds Bingley in the shrubbery. Then they share a quite touching and well acted scene. What the hell is this? Anyway, Jane tell him that they can’t change the past. He acted like a dingus and she married Collins and that is that. But they will always know what it was true love, and hold it in there in their hearts.
Inside the house, Lady Catherine has come for the perfectly not-stupid reason of chewing Mrs. Bennet out for not being nice to the Collins Brothers (they added so much!) and not immediately marrying a daughter off to each one. Mrs. Bennet kind of loses it in a scene that is equal parts non-sensical and awesome.
She points of how horribly rude it is for Lady Catherine to come into other people’s house and tell them what to do. Which, yeah, it is horribly rude. Lady Catherine has no manners. Then she goes off on this weird thing about how she better leave or she’ll use her to clean out the pig sty. Alex Kingston kills it, but… what?
When Collins try to defend his patroness, Jane calls him stupid. Mr. Bennet is so impressed by his wife’s behaviour that he totally wants to have sex with her again.
Outside, Lady Catherine takes her turn with Amanda. She tells her off for throwing herself at Darcy, but Amanda still claims to be shipping him and Elizabeth, who are currently strolling around looking at more garden herbs. Lady Catherine offers to buy Amanda off but she says all she wants is for Jane and Collins not to be married anymore, but there’s nothing that can be done about it.
Lady Catherine is all “Well, has the marriage been consummated?” What? Why would it occur to her that it hadn’t been. Is it normal in this wacky universe for married people to randomly not have sex for no reason? Amanda admits that it hasn’t been, because Jane was willing to share that detail with her, I guess, and Lady Catherine is, like, “yeah, I know people, I can have it annulled.” Well, isn’t it lucky that we had that ridiculous contrivance then!
Amanda agrees that if Lady Catherine can make that happen, Amanda will go away forever. Then Lady Catherine starts to stan her hard. She says that they totally could have been besties under different circumstances.
In the carriage, Caroline is crying. I guess in this version, Lady Catherine isn’t into Darcy marrying her daughter? Whatever. As they drive away, there’s this thing that makes it clear that Wickham has set his cap at Caroline, and she’s fallen for it. Good luck to them.
Jane is less than enthused about this whole annulment thing. She points out how the rules of this society suddenly exist again and this would make her a social pariah. People would make fun of her for not being able to “inspire her husband to consummate their marriage” and that her reputation would be such that she certainly couldn’t be with Bingley.
See, what you have to do is get it annulled for reason of impotence, like on The Borgias.
Bingley pops up and says “fuck social conventions” and suggests that they go start a new life in America. They plan on having many children. So that all ended well.
Elsewhere, for some reason, being told by some crazy person that it’s their duty to fall in love is not a huge turn on for Darcy and Elizabeth. But they agree to give it the old college try. He invites her to Pemberley, and she tells Amanda that she thinks she can learn to love him.
Amanda thinks this is all for the best. She makes her way back to the magic door, and we’re treated to a flashback montage, just in case we forgot how well developed and motivated her and Darcy’s love is.
Darcy agrees with the flashback. He left her a note on the door, and this prompts her to say “fuck the book” and run off to Pemberley.
Elizabeth bonds with her dad, and they agree that she would be better off back in Hammersmith eating her organic quinoa and talking funny.
The last scene is Amanda arriving back at Pemberley, where Darcy is still posing broodly in the same spot. I guess he doesn’t have a job, so this is what he does all day. They exchange some cheesy dialogue about how they’re meant for each other, or something. They kiss, we pull away to look at Chatsworth, and this whole ordeal is finally over.
How many ways are there to say that something is stupid? Insulting. Inconsistent. Contrived. And totally part of the problem when it comes to the fact that Jane Austen’s work is always being mischaracterized as a swooping, bodice ripping romance.
And the thing is, according to wikipedia, this got pretty good review. I guess because no one took it seriously? But, in my opinion, unless the point of the piece is that there are no rules or that the rules are ridiculous (think Monty Python Philosophers’ football game) then the fact that it’s comedy doesn’t mean that basic logic shouldn’t be maintained. And characters shouldn’t be funny because their actions literally make no sense. Unless, again, that’s the point.
And one can’t quite help wondering if it’s specifically certain, um, target demographic, that they think will swallow anything.
Images courtesy of ITV