ppPride and Prejudice turns twenty this year. Not that Pride and Prejudice, the other one. Colin Firth Darcy Pride and Prejudice. Colin Firth Darcy gazing at Jennifer Ehle Lizzy playing the piano Pride and Prejudice. Colin Firth Darcy wet shirt Pride and Prejudice. That one. 

(Apparently Colin Firth has resigned himself to his forever-Darcy status, telling a reporter, “I’m fully aware that if I were to change professions tomorrow, become an astronaut, and be the first man to land on Mars, the headlines in all the newspapers would read, ‘Mr. Darcy Lands On Mars.” Is this another reason to love him, or what?)

Caz, our resident Brit, was at the center of Darcymania when it took off. She says, “I can’t remember how I heard about the 1995 version – it was prime-time Sunday night BBC1 telly, and as I will always watch a costume drama, there was no question that I’d be watching.  I think there was a fair bit of lead-in publicity, some of it talking about the art of the adaptation – Andrew Davies was already a pretty big name when it came to adapting classic literature for television – and I believe there was already a bit of controversy about the wet shirt scene!  Even just a few minutes in, I remember thinking I was watching something special – one of those rare times (rather like has happened with Poldark more recently) when everything just “worked”.  The casting and portrayals are spot on – Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, of course, are brilliant, but Alison Steadman as Mrs Bennet and Julia Sawalha as Lydia can’t be bettered IMO.”

In collecting memories, I noticed how technology has changed. Many of us started with VHS, which had its perils. Mary, Maggie, and LinnieGayl all watched their tapes so many times that the tape wore out (remember that???). LinnieGayl recounted, “I saw it for the first time almost by accident on A&E. I almost immediately started recording it (old VHS). I can’t begin to say how many times I watched re-watched those old videos, and was crushed when the tape eventually died… Then when it replayed once I had a DVR, I recorded it again, and was again crushed when I moved and had to turn in the old DVR machine. Last time I looked it was still on my Netflix “List” so can still watch it (I hope).” Maggie went a different digital route, getting DVD and then Blu-Ray copies. Jenna binge-watched library DVDs “until like 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning” and then bought her own set when she saw them for sale at Costco. You never want to be without!

Pride and Prejudice was a social phenomenon. Blythe watched it with her then-husband, Mary with her mother, and Melanie for a class. Lynn and I (Caroline) both had Pride and Prejudice parties. Lynn and some law school classmates got together for a “good friends and cheap wine” marathon. As for me, I got the DVDs and hosted a party in college. Only three guys came – two were gay, and one was my future husband. Since it is a truth universally acknowledged that a straight single man who attends a Pride and Prejudice party must be in want of a wife, we got together not long after. I will always be grateful to Mrs. Bennet for playing a role in matchmaking for me.

But now I have to out a couple of AAR slackers: Dabney and Heather have NEVER SEEN the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know whether to be horrified that they missed it or jealous that they still get to see it for the first time!

Where were you when you first saw Darcy dive in the lake? Who was with you? Did you get it on VHS, or, heaven help you, fall down the black hole of laserdisc? Is this your all-time favorite P&P, the way it is mine, or do you prefer another version?

Caroline AAR