Cautions: mild ethical confusion, some immodesty and mild sensuality, and some language
Pride and Prejudice were never quickly conquered, and the acclaimed BBC miniseries is almost six hours long not just because that’s how long it took to do the novel justice, but because that’s how long it takes to bring together the two people in all nineteenth-century England least likely to fall in love with anyone, let alone each other. The battle between reserved arrogance and candid prejudice, fought with intellect and reinforced by exasperating relatives, feels engagingly true to life, though perhaps a bit long.
1995 | Simon Langton | 6 episodes, 50 min each
Mild Ethical Confusion
A negatively-portrayed character is a clergyman. He is spoken of in accurate, negative terms without directly touching on his role as a minister, although he himself brings up his profession several times, and positively-portrayed characters use his role as a clergyman to try to persuade him out of ridiculous or embarrassing situations. His main faults are his ridiculousness, officiousness, and showing partiality to the wealthy and titled.
The clergyman also tells relatives of a publicly sinning woman, “The death of your sister would have been a blessing in comparison,” and adds that while some claim her licentiousness was the result of overindulgence at home, he thinks that her “disposition must be naturally bad” (biblically, all fallen humans’ dispositions are naturally bad1). He refers to his meddling, ungracious patroness’ “Christian generosity of spirit.”
Main character Elizabeth’s parents are both fools. Her mother is loud, obnoxious, fretting, shameful and scheming. Her father is negligent and makes unwise decisions for the sake of peace and convenience. The parents are still given general respect, although their foolishness is pointed out by other characters as a serious matter.
Elizabeth’s parents also have a somewhat dysfunctional relationship. Her father seems to tolerate but despise his wife, and makes occasional jabbing comments like, “Let us flatter ourselves that I might outlive you.” His wife makes occasional comments like, “How can you be so tiresome?” Their conflicts are not, however, positively-portrayed.
Elizabeth’s father claims his daughters are “all silly and ignorant like other girls,” but is not shown to be correct. A negatively-portrayed woman claims that “a daughter is never of much importance to a father.” Elizabeth’s parents both occasionally make unkind or unfeeling remarks to or about their younger daughters, but these are shown to be hurtful.
A skeptical side character claims that “happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance,” and she marries for the sake of social and financial security. She arranges her day and her husband’s so that they spend as little time together as possible, and seems to enjoy her new life, although she is still portrayed as having married unwisely.
Elizabeth makes a rash promise, and regrets breaking it only because of the inconvenience to herself.
Elizabeth is frequently sarcastic to the less intelligent, and they take her at her word.
Some Immodesty and Mild Sensuality
Women reveal some cleavage throughout the series, and quite a bit of cleavage in a few scenes. Young women are occasionally seen in sleeveless, low-cut underdresses.
A negatively portrayed girl runs away with a man. They are shown together in non-sensual situations, sometimes with her in a nightdress. This is shown to be wrong and harmful to others. “Debauches, intrigues, seductions,” are briefly referenced. A negatively portrayed man is very briefly shown kissing and holding a woman in an underdress on his lap.
There are a couple of nude statues in the background.
A man is seen from the shoulders up in the bath. This is not portrayed sensually.
Elizabeth’s negatively-portrayed younger sisters are flirtatious. One suggests calling on a gentleman friend before he’s dressed.
A man makes a tongue in cheek remark about women attempting to show off their figures.
There is a kiss after a wedding.
For G-d’s sake
(*Note: these instances may be intended sincerely.)
Characters are shown to be proud and prejudiced as per the title, but these failings are resolved as the series progresses. Elizabeth’s younger sisters have numerous moral failings, and are negatively portrayed for all of them.
Characters drink alcohol. Some carriage drivers are very briefly implied to be drunk, and a negatively-portrayed side character is implied to be under the influence constantly. Nothing is made of either situation.
A man’s manipulative romance with an innocent fifteen year old girl is referenced.
The phrase “makes love to us all” is used to mean merely attempting to be charming to them all.
A man is hyperbolically called “a very demon from hell.”
A woman portrayed as foolish exclaims, “Three daughters married! God has been very good to us.”
Luck is referenced a couple of times.
A bishop’s authority is referenced.
Dueling is referenced, but not positively.
Women wear cross pendants.
Characters reference their “poverty”, meaning their inferior financial situation compared to others in their same social class.
1 See Romans 3:10-12 for example.