Primer to those of you reading this who aren’t LBD watchers: My answer to this topic is in regards to where to show certain story beats in an expansive story.
Q: Do you think how Lizzie is perceived is sometimes hurt by the Vlog/story format? I appreciated that Lizzie didn’t share Darcy’s letter with web and we had to wait for Checks and Balances to know letter’s contents. But now we have Ugh and Consequences where Lizzie uploads vlogs with contents that reveal more than Lydia may like web to see. I get that from George, but not Lizzie. Did you discuss having Lizzie stop vlogs during this time and only tell story through side venues (I.e. Domino)?
So great question sitting in my inbox. I know a lot of the fans have been debating this and I figured I’d address this one because I find this topic fascinating as a storyteller. It’s one of those things where it’s a balance of serving different audiences and presenting a cohesive story to everyone… Oh and this is gonna get a little storyteller/preachy
The first thing you should know is my belief that “transmedia” should not be required. Transmedia should enhance but not prevent any viewer from enjoying the basic story without diving all the way down the story threads. I may not believe this 5 years from now but I believe it now and I believe it strongly. My writing team knows this and when they come up with cool transmedia threads the first thing I say is “great… as long as it’s not required.”
This is something I talk about in this Producers Guild Article which you can read here.
But if you don’t want to read it, it comes down to this. If you want Pride and Prejudice as a video diary hitting all of the story beats that we adapt from the novel, all you need to do is go to this playlist and watch all of Lizzie’s videos. It’s what we call the lean back experience. Push play, lean back, and enjoy.
Why do we do this? Because we want to make it easy. It takes a lot of effort to jump around to all the other (Lydia, Maria, Gigi) channels then go to twitter and come back. Those of you who are doing it, awesome. You’re the ones that I say are literally making the show better. You’re the most fun to tell the story for. We constantly try to do big story moves for you with things like Lydia’s spinoff and Team Figi.
But here’s the truth: you’re actually not the majority of the audience.
Statistics show that only 50% of your audience jumps down one story level. Meaning if 100% of the audience watches Lizzie’s channel, only 50% would dive down to Lydia’s and then only 10-20% would dive down to the deepest level (twitter).
This isn’t a perfect statistical comparison but here it is in The LBD.
Right now Lizzie’s channel has 145k subs. (100%)
Lydia’s channel (second level) has 71k. (50%)
Lizzie’s personal Twitter account (third level) has 35k followers. (25%)
So as you can see, every big plot point/beat needs to happen and be told on Lizzie’s channel. Are we suspending belief, you bet we are. We are for a lot of characters… you know it, we know it. We’ve been doing it from day 1 because we need to tell the story. We have laundry lists of “would Lizzie really say this on the internet” things going way back to the first episodes. At the end of the day, the story always comes first. The immersive realism (though important) comes second.
Going back to the excellent question above which relates to things like…
1. Why did Lizzie just tell her whole audience about the Lydia/Wickham tape?
2. Why did Lizzie upload Monday’s video with her sister being absolutely devastated?
Because we needed to show it for the story. Lizzie has to give us the exposition we needed at the time we needed it. Does it hurt the way we perceive her? Probably. But the 50% of the audience who don’t watch Lydia’s videos and the 75% of our audience who don’t follow the transmedia on twitter who experienced the day everything changed needed to be told what was happening. They needed to know what was going on.
Imagine if you don’t follow twitter or tumblr or watch Lydia’s videos. Here’s what the non-repetitive/no old information version of 84 Ugh would have looked like (written poorly).
Lizzie (looks at phone): OMG
Darcy: What is it?
Lizzie (shows phone): this!
Darcy: I could have prevented this.
Lizzie: I need to go home. Sorry I have to go.
Etc etc… anyway, take away your knowledge of Lydia’s videos, tumblr twitter, and you’d probably be going “What?! What just happened? I’m totally confused.”
The audience members who only watch Lizzie’s videos get our version of exactly what happens in the Pemberley arc from the book.
1. Lydia wants to go to party.
2. Lizzie leaves for Pemberley
3. Lizzie and Darcy at Pemberley… yay!
4. Lizzie gets a message about Lydia/Wickham doing something awful and here it is! - her reaction: WTF?!
It’s a shock to Lizzie… it’s a shock to those audience members. But as we have been experimenting with this format, we gave you Lydia’s videos (showing her with Wickham) and now we’re giving you Gigi’s videos (showing her with Darcy). We’re giving you a deeper experience at both sides of this mega plot point.
Everyone else gets Pride and Prejudice as a video diary and that is perfectly fine.