As I reached the halfway point of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it began to dawn on me that I’d been tricked. Oh sure, there were the promised undead and even some bonus ninjas, but I realized that perhaps 95% of the time, I was, in fact, actually reading Pride and Prejudice. The real one.
It may surprise you that I–a 20+ year public TV veteran–have not only never read any Jane Austen, but never even watched a for-real TV or movie adaptation all the way through. I’m pretty sure that Clueless and Bride and Prejudice don’t count.
I don’t have a problem with romances. Granted that I prefer a romantic comedy to a straight-up love story, but I’m enough of a lovestruck fool that I can appreciate a bit of sentimentality. Especially if the actress is hot.
What I don’t like are romances in which the obstacles standing in the way of true love are entirely self-imposed. I mean the sort of stories in which the lovers in question could easily find true happiness if only they could get over themselves/their honor/their social class. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an excellent example. Lots of people were swept away by its tragic, doomed relationship. I, on the other hand, was just pissed off. I spent most of the movie mentally shouting, “For crying out loud, just shut up about your damned destiny and kiss her!”
Similarly, I couldn’t stand the ’80s TV show Beauty and the Beast. If you don’t recall that one, it was about a district attorney played by Linda Hamilton who fell in love with a broody, bestial, underground dweller played by Ron Perlman. The title sequence’s tag line went something like “We can never be together, but we’ll never be apart.” See, apparently it just wouldn’t do for a district attorney to be seen with someone who looked like Ron Perlman, only with fangs and a bit of a mane. And so began an endless “oh no, we mustn’t” faux-mance, never mind that Linda Hamilton was living in New York City, where there are plenty of real-life people scarier-looking than Ron Perlman. Really, all they had to do was give “Vincent” a haircut, a manicure, a bit of dental work and a decent tailor, and those two crazy kids could’ve been happily having litters of kittens.
In my view, true love doesn’t let shit like that stand in the way. If you’re really mutually head over heels, you make it work. And if you don’t, or won’t, you need to shut the hell up about it.
Which brings me back to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or, as I think of it, Pride and Prejudice (with zombies). There’s a point about 200 pages in at which it’s very clear that all of the interested parties have realized their mutual interest, and all that’s standing between them and the words “THE END” is an awful lot of yakking about social standing and what the neighbors will think. Hungry undead or no hungry undead, I found myself skimming ever more quickly through the last hundred pages.
I’m certainly glad that if I had to read Pride and Prejudice, it was the zombie variant. It’s just that even the zombies weren’t enough.