Brace Yourselves: Jennifer Love Hewitt Is Adapting Pride and Prejudice for Lifetime

What Women Really Think
Dec. 12 2012 4:42 PM

Brace Yourselves: Jennifer Love Hewitt Is Adapting Pride and Prejudice for Lifetime

153471399
Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Hollywood greenlights its share of ridiculous projects, but the news that Jennifer Love Hewitt had sold an update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, tentatively titled Darcy's Town, to Lifetime seems particularly insane. Or maybe not: Lifetime's brand was most recently defined by a Lindsay Lohan-fronted trainwreck biopic of Elizabeth Taylor, and the network already has Hewitt playing a hooker on The Client List. Still, none of the parties involved seem like a match for one of the most beloved novels of all time.

Pride and Prejudice isn't an easy book to move into the modern era. It was one thing for Amy Heckerling to reimagine the romantic meddling of Emma as 1990s Beverly Hills in Clueless, because that's a story that emphasizes its heroine's independence and privilege, rather than the extreme pressure on her to marriage, if only so she could move out of her family home. The drama and compromises of Pride and Prejudice are all tied to the very real and very scary risk becoming an old maid. Whatever pressures single women feel to settle down in contemporary American society, they aren't remotely equivalent to what P&P's Elizabeth Bennet faced.

Bride & Prejudice, the 2004 quasi-Bollywood musical from director Gurinder Chadha, was able to recreate its source material's tension by moving the action to a small Indian city and a social milieu where women were still expected to live at home until they were married. The story may have expanded to fill continents, and made the prospect of premarital sex explicit rather than implicit when Lakhi, the movie's equivalent of Lydia, runs off with Wickham, who's become a globe-trotting beach-bum rather than a regiment-hopping British soldier. But a character like Lalita (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), a brilliant woman who would never really be able to take over her father's farm, or to build a satisfying life as a single woman in a small town that didn't have an outlet for her talents or her intellectual interests, still worked. Moving Pride and Prejudice to small-town Virginia doesn't seem likely to produce the same result.

Alyssa Rosenberg writes about culture and television for Slate’s “XX Factor” blog. She also contributes to ThinkProgress and theatlantic.com.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.