25 Days of Pride & Prejudice: Day 3 – There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

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Episode 3, First watch

Elizabeth learns that Charlotte has accepted a proposal from Mr. Collins; Jane realizes that the Bingleys are ignoring her.

When I did #25Days the first year, I watched the 2005 movie version, and I got a loooot of flak for this post in particular, for being sympathetic to Kelly Reilly’s portrayal of Caroline Bingley.

(I got a little weird with the filters that year.)

From Dec. 7, 2017:

Yes, she’s a bit tactless but she’s trying to get Darcy to notice her, not Lizzy, and Darcy won’t spare two glances in her direction. She’s just trying to make conversation about how cool she thinks Georgiana is and he totally shuts her down.

I just feel bad for her, honestly. Who among us hasn’t acted foolish in front of a guy we liked? Remember that Caroline is mayyybe 21 or 22, and I don’t know about you all, but I was not really a great person at that age either. I made mistakes. I gossiped and talked shit about other women I didn’t like.

I truly think we’ve been looking at Caroline all wrong, instead of trying to understand her motives, we simply judge her for her actions as they appear to Lizzy.

As I had to keep reminding people (repeatedly) after that post — these blogs are based on the adaptions, and the adaptions alone.

Book Caroline wasn’t figuring into my review of Movie Caroline because Movie Caroline wasn’t making the same choices as Book Caroline; and therefore, Movie Caroline caught my sympathy.

But FUCK Miniseries Caroline. Fuck her and her sister right to Fucked Up Mean Girl Hell.

I hope they both get hit by a bus.

None of what I said about Reilly’s portrayal applies to Anna Chancellor or Lucy Robinson as Caroline Bingley or Mrs. Hurst, respectively — and I want to make it super clear here that I think they’re both absolutely lovely actresses who act as entirely believable villains, and none of this should be considered a reflection of my opinions of Chancellor or Robinson personally! (It’s far, far too easy to conflate the two.)

But back to my point: I really love to hate these two, and I especially love that they didn’t get rid of Mrs. Hurst in this adaption.

I’m a big proponent of the idea that every Laurel needs a Hardy, and every Fry needs a Laurie. Thusly, every Lydia needs a Kitty, and Caroline Bingley needs her Mrs. Hurst.

Ridiculous characters are so much more ridiculous — and their motives far more comprehensible — when they have a foil to bounce off of. Otherwise their actions seem solely malicious.

That’s not to say the Bingley sisters aren’t malicious. They definitely are, and their giggling and whispering and making fun of the cast of characters in Meryton only serves to prove that they are the villains in this story.

Their treatment of Jane Bennet in particular is abhorrent, and never was this better portrayed than in the disgusted tics of Caroline Bingley’s face when she finally visits Jane in Gracechurch Street.

(Judgy McJudgerson is judging you.)

I haven’t got a well-thought out critique to offer here. Just that this adaption is so, so different in the way it portrays the Bingley sisters from many of the other popular adaptions — and I think it’s all the better for it.

It stays much closer to the original plot, and in doing so, Darcy’s choice to side with the sisters when they dissuade Charles from marrying Jane, paints his actions in a far harsher light than the 2005 movie.

But I think that’s the fundamental split between movies and miniseries: The miniseries has much more time to delve into those details.

What do you think of this Caroline and Mrs. Hurst? Where do they fall short, and where do they succeed?

If you had to cast a new adaption, who would you hire for these roles — would you do away with Mrs. Hurst all together?

Remember to share every day to be entered in the drawing for Jane’s Birthday Giveaway! We’ll announce the prize pack on Dec. 16, and choose a winner on Dec. 25. You can enter by sharing these posts every day with the #25Days hashtag and by tagging @Drunk_Austen on the social media outlet of your choice.


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4 thoughts on “25 Days of Pride & Prejudice: Day 3 – There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

  1. It really irks me when movies take out entire characters from a book when they make an adaptation. I can forgive plays, because casting more actors is a whole thing, but a movie should be able to make it work, even if they make a significant character into a bit part. Anyways, I have sympathy for Caroline Bingley regardless of how awful she can be. She always seems so desperate to me and things don’t end up working out for her, so I’m hindsight, there’s nothing worse that I could wish on her.


  2. I very much appreciated your perspective on Caroline Bingley from the post two years ago. It caused me to reconsider things from her POV and see her as slightly less of a hag and more as a young woman just trying to survive in that time period.
    I do though completely agree with you about the Bingley sisters in the miniseries. Hagsville. I LIVE for Drunk Austen December. It has brought me incomparable joy these past 2, going on 3 years!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read all three post today, not being able to efficiently wade through the ubiquitous Black Friday crap emails…..3, 4? emails from the same co every day for like five days? I wore out my index finger hitting the trash button thingy.

    Anyway, fun fun FUN! I agree with your assessment of Benjamin Whitrow’s portrayal as Mr Bennet. I really don’t like reading variations with him being truly bad; selfish, greedy, basically selling off his supposed ‘favorite’ daughter to, usually Mr. Collins sometimes Darcy before she’s had a chance to see even a tiny glimpse of his good side.
    Now, these situations are part of the plot the author wants to set up and I get that, plus I have really loved a lot of those variations. I love me some angst.

    Nope, can’t agree with you on movie Caroline from 2005. I hated her just as much. I totally agree with you that Caro needs a foil, though. I love your irreverent posts. As much fun as these are, I can’t but wonder how negatively this might affect your health. But I could own up to this ‘vice’ myself on nearly a daily basis…staying up way too late reading the next variation.

    As far as casting a new adaptation, I’m truly sucky at that kind of thing. Can I UNCAST the director/producer? Let it not be Andrew Davies.


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