Episode 2, First watch
Mr. Collins writes to announce his imminent visit to Longbourn; Mrs. Bennet has high hopes that Collins will propose to one of her daughters, and also expects that Jane will soon be engaged to Mr. Bingley.
You came back for more, eh? Well god, if I haven’t scared you off by now, I guess you can stick around.
I’ve been traveling back from Oregon all today, which means I wrote part of this in the car on my cell phone while traveling over the Siskyou mountains.
And maybe it’s because I’ve been with my own crazy family for the last week, since Thanksgiving, but I’m really feeling a deeeep connection to Mr. Bennet’s fantastic eye rolls right now.
Which is weird for me because usually I think he’s a bit of a jerk.
I mean, you can just feel the annoyance dripping from this man in every episode. And of course, Episode 2 is the Netherfield Ball, where he commits his own social snafu to the mortification of Lizzy and Jane — so he’s no saint himself.
I just think Mr. Bennet as a character is a bit of a hypocrite and generally not a terribly wonderful father.
Before I get a slew of hate mail, I want to point out there’s a lot of things to not like about Mr. Bennet:
He blatantly plays favorites with 2/5 of his children, and especially favors Lizzy — often vocally. He clearly hates his wife and treats her and her feelings like yesterday’s haggis. (Moreover, if they knew they weren’t likely to have a son by the time Kitty came along, why didn’t they start saving money for the girls’ dowries?? I’m going have to do a dowry explainer at some point this month so every knows what sort of dire financial straits Mr. Bennet truly put his family in.)
All I had to deal with this weekend was a super emotional dad and a deaf grandpa who refuses to wear his hearing aids and a grandma with progressive dementia who doesn’t recognize me anymore and I’m thiiiiiiis close to defenestrating the lot of them, taking the insurance money, and running to Mexico. 💁🏻♀️
But can you imagine, I mean, can you even imagine, dealing with Mrs. Bennet and her five daughters, day in, day out — for more than 20 years?
I’d hole up in the library too.
Damn I want to hole in a library right now just thinking about it.
So that’s why I think I’m feeling some special camaraderie with Mr. Bennet today… it’s a miracle all he does is roll his eyes.
(Which also makes me wonder how good homicide detectives were in 1813.)
But jokes aside, I also thought this might a good time to talk more about Benjamin Whitrow, the actor who played Mr. Bennet.
We know who Jennifer Ehle is, and of course we know Colin Firth. And you may even recognize Lucy Davis as Maria Lucas and a very young Victoria Hamilton as Mrs. Forster.
But could you have honestly named Mr. Bennet’s actor if I hadn’t already told you?
Now, I couuuuuld write up a nice few paragraphs of my own making about him … but I’m exhausted from this drive … so I’m just going to crib from his Wikipedia page. My apologies to every English teacher out there reading this.
Whitrow was born in February 1937 in Oxford … (and) served in the King’s Dragoon Guards during his national service from 1956 to 1958.
Whitrow was married to Catherine Cook, with whom he had two children: Hannah Mary Whitrow (born 1973) and Thomas George Whitrow (born 1976). He also had a son, Angus Imrie (born 1994) with actress Celia Imrie.
He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1981 … (and) in 1989, Whitrow appeared in episode four of the sketch show A Bit of Fry and Laurie (series one), playing an irate member of the audience who claimed that Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie had stolen several of their sketches from him.
Between 1990 and 1992, Whitrow appeared in the sitcom The New Statesman.
He was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice in 1995.
In the year 2000, in the animated movie Chicken Run, Whitrow voiced the character of Fowler.
(You may also have seen him in episodes of Toast of London, Midsomer Murders, or Inspector Morse.)
Whitrow’s last work was two plays for BBC Radio 4 where he played the late Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman … Whitrow died while recording Mr Betjeman Regrets and was completed by Robert Bathurst.
Whitrow died on September 28, 2017; aged 80.
Regardless of how annoying Mr. Bennet can be at times — I still can’t help but like him — and I chalk a lot of that up to Whitrow’s empathetic portrayal.
Yeah, maybe Mr. Bennet plays favorites. But Lizzy’s his favorite, and Lizzy’s the one we’re supposed to identify with. So, I say pffft.
I think Whitrow does a great job of making us like a character that could so easily be disliked.
So what if Mr. Bennet makes some poor life and financial decisions, we all do. He’s still a pretty amiable guy for all that.
And really, after a weekend like this, I’m positively begging to have someone amiable to roll my eyes along with.
(Preferably someone I’m NOT related to.)
Maybe this miniseries really is the perfect holiday bingewatch.
Hey, don’t forget: In order to win the Jane’s Birthday giveaway grand prize packet, you’ll need to share these #25Days posts every day. I’ll announce what the prize is on Dec. 16 and pick a winner on Christmas — the last day of this project.
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