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Lizzie Bennet Does CrossFit: Millennializing the Classics

Jane Austen and Shakespeare are getting Millennialized in new books, movies, and more bringing the classics into the modern age.

Clueless was Jane Austen’s Emma interpreted for modern-day movie viewers in 1995, 10 Things I Hate About You brought Taming of the Shrew to life for Millennial teens in 1999, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries made Pride & Prejudice a hit online series in 2012—and each one has become a new classic in its own way. Again and again historic novels have been modernized to appeal to a new generation, and the trend isn’t going anywhere. Now, those old English lit standbys are getting updated in a variety of ways—bringing the heroines into the Tinder age, moving the storytelling into an app, and giving young viewers the female perspective on an old story. Here are the most recent projects Millennializing some timeless tales:

The Austen Project’s Eligible

Pride and Prejudice is getting a(nother) Millennial reboot. As mentioned above, in 2012 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries retold the classic novel as a video diary by Lizzie herself, chronicling her time in graduate school, her relationship with her best friend, sisters, and marriage-obsessed mother, and of course her romantic life. The series was the first online show to win a daytime Emmy, and has spawned a spin-off franchise of books. Now, an organization called The Austen Project is matching up “authors of global significance with Jane Austen’s six complete works,” and telling her stories in their own way. New York Times best-selling author Curtis Sittenfeld has reimagined Pride and Prejudice as Eligible, a story set it in modern-day Cincinnati, with Lizzie Bennett as a magazine editor whose sisters teach yoga and obsess over CrossFit. After her father has a health scare, Lizzie returns home with older sister Jane (who to qualify has a near-spinster these days is almost forty), and takes an immediate dislike to Mr. Darcy, (who in 2016 is a neurosurgeon).


Millennializing a classic doesn’t always mean putting the whole story in a modern day setting. In the case of Ophelia, Hamlet of is being updated by telling the tale from the perspective of the famously tragic young girl—and giving her a whole new story. The 2006 young adult novel Ophelia by Lisa Klein told “the story of a young woman falling in love, searching for her place in the world, and finding the strength to survive.” Now, that book has inspired a film that will star Star Wars heroine Daisy Ridley, and Naomi Watts. Considering the generation’s demand for strong female leads, it seems fitting that a classic story would be Millennialized by putting the lady in the spotlight. 

Heuristic Shakespeare

Where for art thou, iPad? Thanks to lauded actor Sir Ian McKellen, Shakespeare is now an app. The actor has launched Heuristic Shakespeare to make the Bard’s works more accessible to modern readers (cough, Millennials, cough). With the belief that reading Shakespeare is a daunting task for all but the most seasoned actors, the app guides users through the story by both showing the scrolling text and the actors saying the lines. Passages can be highlighted, and additional information about the work’s background and themes are available through the platform. Currently, The Tempest is the only work available, but there are plans to release all 37 of Shakespeare’s classic plays—each as a standalone app.