Every season, the Drama After Dark team gathers ‘round the (virtual) conference room table to watch the latest and greatest in British dramas. This month, we’re covering a period drama powerhouse that GBH recently brought back to GBH Passport: Pride and Prejudice, the 1995 smash hit that launched a thousand crushes on Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle alike. I’m here to recap the mini-series for both first-time viewers and superfans. Prepare to drown your feelings in the nearest available lake: it’s recap time.

First, a confession. Reader, despite my well-documented love of period dramas, I have somehow never seen this series. But, to paraphrase Austen herself, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a drama superfan in possession of a mandate to recap must get her butt in gear and cover Pride and Prejudice ‘95, so here we are.

The series begins with a truly delightful opening featuring embroidery and a jaunty tune, but lest you think that Andrew Davies has forgotten his obsession with having leading men gallop about on horseback, two gentlemen doing just that soon appear. They’re apparently in the midst of house hunting, with not a Property Brother in sight. Now look: I’ve read this book, and spend far too much time looking at literature memes for my own good, and therefore already know everyone’s name, but if you think I’m not giving these people recap names you are very much mistaken.

Doug the Pug (aka Bingley): Anyway, this massive estate isn’t as nice as your house, but I gotta live somewhere. You like it, right?
Grumpy Cat (aka Darcy): Ugh, your neighbors will be the WORST. But whatever, sure, it’s fine.
Doug the Pug: YAY!

And off they trot, watched, unbeknownst to them, by one of those very neighbors, who it appears was out taking in the scenery when she was treated to some unanticipated eye candy. Vista thus viewed, she skips off home, pausing to gather some flowers, not a care in the world. That serenity is to be short lived, because back at home, two of her sisters are in the midst of a knock-down drag-out fight over a bonnet, which is clearly not a rare occurrence. Thankfully, our heroine JudgyPants (aka Lizzie Bennet) has two allies in the house: her father, and her older sister, Nice Marcia Bennet.

The whole family heads off to church where the rather shrill Mom Bennet finds out some critical info: someone’s moving into the big-ass house next door!

Mom Bennet: AND guess what: the renter isn’t some random scrub — it’s a rich, single dude!
Dad Bennet: And why should I care?
Mom Bennet: Because that means he can marry one of our daughters so that when you die, and none of us are able to inherit our home due to some frankly ridiculous and sexist laws, the entire family doesn’t become destitute.
JudgyPants, sarcastically: Yeah, I’m sure the new rich neighbor is desperate to marry!
Mom Bennet: He better be, and any one of you will do just fine! Like I said, we’re on a bit of a timeline here!
Dad Bennet, being deliberately obtuse: So you really think he moved out to the country so he could marry one of our girls?
Mom Bennet: You’re being deliberately obtuse. Anyway, he might fall in love with one of them, so you gotta go visit him and start that ball rolling.
Dad Bennet: Nah, I don’t wanna.

Listen, readers. I know many of us grew up thinking Mom Bennet was shrill and annoying, and Dad Bennet was super cool and fun, but he’s actually kind of a tool whose poor planning and general apathy could easily lead to literal homelessness for his family, so this is gonna be a pro-Mom Bennet recap series. If you wanna get into it, by all means @ me on Twitter. Anyway, the Bennet squad returns home and Mom Bennet starts to spiral: her ain’t-shit husband is apparently adamant that he won’t go visit Doug the Pug.

Dad Bennet: Yeah, that’s right, I won’t. I’ll just write him a note that we’ve got five daughters and he’s welcome to pick one even though they’re basic AF. Well, except Judgypants, my obvious favorite, who is at least smart.
Mom Bennet: See now you’re just messing around, and tbh I’m sick of it.
Boring Stories Bennet: Useless Platitude.
Mom Bennet:

A man sarcastically asks "really?"

Later, JudgyPants and Marcia Bennet rap about their situation.

JudgyPants: Ugh, I’m not gonna lie to you — I’d be pretty happy if I loved someone who could just, like, bare minimum support me. But let’s be real, I can’t love someone who’d be crazy enough to marry me!
Marcia Bennet: LOL. Real talk though, imagine having to marry someone you can’t love OR respect.
JudgyPants: Yeah, just look at mom and dad! But you know what, we’re probably gonna have to settle, it’s not like we’ve got money or anything. Someone’s gonna have to marry a very rich dude, and since you’re by far the hottest and the nicest sister, I have a feeling that’s gonna have to be you.
Marcia Bennet: I knowwww. But ugh I’d like to fall in love.
JudgyPants: I’m sure you will. Just do it with a rich guy!
Marcia Bennet: Noted. And you?
JudgyPants: Well I’m only marrying if I’m super in love. So I guess I’m gonna be single forever; I’ll teach your brood of offspring how to embroider or some nonsense.

The next day, tensions in the Bennet household continue to rise. The frivolous younger sisters have ascertained that Doug the Pug is in residence based on intel gathered from family friend Sir William Lucas, who’s already visited Doug the Pug at home.

Mom Bennet: WHO CARES. We’ll never even get to meet Doug the Pug because of your FATHER!
Baby Bennet: But MOM, he’s apparently cute! AND he loves to dance, and he’s coming to the town dance party on Saturday and bringing extra men with him!
Mom Bennet: Quit talking about Doug the Pug; we shall never meet him and I’m sick of hearing about him.
Dad Bennet: Well that’s too bad, I went and visited him this morning so you’re stuck with him.
Mom Bennet:

Kermit flails with delight

Later, Doug the Pug, Grumpy Cat, and their entourage, including Regency Regina George (Caroline Bingley), arrive at the dance.

A well-coiffed group of young women walk down a hallway in slow motion

I feel I must inform you that the men are wearing period appropriate but absolutely hilarious hats that make it look like their heads are getting eaten by Pac Man.

Regency Regina George: Ugh, Grumpy Cat, keep me safe, I wouldn’t want to get any poor on me.
Grumpy Cat, regretting his life choices:

A woman asks "why am I here?"

Inside, everyone else in town is having a grand time at the country dance (except, of course, for Boring Stories Bennet, who hates fun). As the new arrivals enter, Sir Bill Lucas heads over to welcome them.

Doug the Pug: YAY, a DANCE, I LOVE a DANCE!
Sir Bill: Ok, simmer down, guy.

While this goes down, the Sisters Bennet and their friend/Sir Bill’s daughter Charlotte gossip about the boys, deducing that two of the three new guys are single, and it’s the young cute ones (Grumpy Cat and Doug the Pug, natch). Unfortunately, Doug the Pug’s elegant sisters are also here, and one of them (Regency Regina George) is unmarried, but you really can’t win ‘em all. Mom Bennet is obviously anxious for a strategy sesh with her two eldest daughters: she’s been doing some reconnaissance of her own, and tells them that Grumpy Cat is actually WAY richer than Doug the Pug. New target? Acquired. The sisters are less excited about this intel, but you go to war with the army you have. Before she can whip her kids into shape via training montage, Doug the Pug appears with Sir Bill, having noticed Marcia Bennet from across the crowded room. Mom Bennet isn’t taking any chances and points out all of her daughters just to hedge her bets, but Doug the Pug only has eyes for Marcia Bennet, and indeed, asks her to dance. TWICE.

Mom Bennet, in for a penny, in for a pound: What about your friend over there — does he like to dance too?
Grumpy Cat, seen:

A man closes his eyes and says "no." while cringing.

Yeah, I don’t dance.
Mom Bennet: Well you better tonight — lots of great dance partners here. Also, you’ve seen our girl:guy ratio, don’t be a jerk.
Grumpy Cat: Noted and ignored. Bye!
Mom Bennet, as Grumpy Cat barely gets out of earshot: Well, that was rude.
JudgyPants: Ma, don’t be so loud.
Mom Bennet: I don’t care. The other one is great, but that guy thinks he’s all that and he's just not.
JudgyPants: He’s rich; he doesn’t need to care what we think. Which means we can ignore him.

And they kinda do, which may be short sighted but is also kind of a player’s move. Meanwhile, Doug the Pug is completely smitten with Marcia Bennet; he even introduces her to his sisters. Boring Stories Bennet complains about how she doesn’t like balls (lol) to JudgyPants, who doesn’t entirely agree. A dance is nice if there are fun people with whom to dance! Doug the Pug is on the same page. It’s not cute for Grumpy Cat to hang around on the sidelines when so many young ladies are in want of a dance partner! TBH, Grumpy Cat seems to be suffering from social anxiety, which is a mood and a half, but instead of just saying that he acts like he’s too good to mingle with these folks.

A woman says "so rude."

Doug the Pug: Don’t be silly! I’ve never met so many nice people, ever, and a lot of these gals are really pretty!
Grumpy Cat, deflecting: You’re hanging out with the only hot one here!
Doug the Pug: OMG I know, RIGHT? She’s SO gorgeous, I’m obsessed! But look over there; her sister is also nice looking, and very pleasant, what about her?
Grumpy Cat, the library is open: She’s whatever. Certainly not pretty enough to catch my eye.

I’m just gonna leave this here:

A man says "You know, like a liar."

Unfortunately for Grumpy Cat, JudgyPants overhears this whole exchange, and takes her cute butt right into his sightline to talk crap about him with Charlotte. The rest of the dance continues apace, relatively uneventfully. At home, Mom Bennet fills Dad Bennet in on the events of the evening so we can do a recap within the recap, Hamlet-style.

Mom Bennet: WELL. Doug the Pug clearly favors Marcia Bennet, and everyone knows it, and at least the majority of the family had a pretty good time. Doug the Pug’s sisters are SO elegant. But that horrible MAN he brought with him, Grumpy Cat, well he’s the living WORST. He’s loaded, but he was mean to your favorite daughter, so we hate him now.
Dad Bennet: What?!?!?
JudgyPants: Don’t worry, Pops, I don’t like him anyway; I can pretty much guarantee I’ll never dance with that clown.

Again, for no reason at all:

A man says "You know, like a liar."

Chez Doug the Pug, the Regency Plastics do their own recap of the evening.

Regency Regina George: LOL so Grumpy Cat, no interest in any of these peasants, huh?
Doug the Pug: You guys are so weird, everyone was great!
Grumpy Cat: And you’re too nice: they were mostly unattractive and simple. Marcia Bennet is nice looking, I guess.
Doug the Pug: How dare u, she’s amazing!
Grumpy Cat: She’s too smiley.
Regency Regina George: Ugh, and her mom is vulgar. Anyway, everyone says that JudgyPants is also locally regarded as a hottie, what do you think of THAT, Grumpy Cat?
Grumpy Cat, snark-master general: If she’s a hottie, her mom’s a genius.
Doug the Pug: I don’t get why you’re such a massive bummer.
Grumpy Cat: And I don’t get why you’re so eager to be liked!
Regency Regina George: Well I think Marcia Bennet is great, even if she does have a terrible family.

Guess what — the feeling is pretty much mutual. Marcia Bennet and JudgyPants spend their morning in the garden talking about Marcia Bennet’s crush on Doug the Pug (cute, we all approve) and the rest of his party (gross and weird, per JudgyPants). Marcia Bennet, who actually had a chance to talk to Regency Regina George, thinks that the sisters, and even Grumpy Cat, given some time, might be redeemable after all. This insistence on thinking well of others comes across a bit naive, but at least it prompts JudgyPants to do a pretty solid mean impression of Grumpy Cat, which I think we can all agree is kinda fun. Before we can get into her tight five on out of town gentlemen, however, Charlotte arrives to tell them that Sir Bill isn’t wasting this opportunity to throw a party, and everyone in town is invited.

Unfortunately, the differing tastes of our two main groups are thrown into even tighter focus at Sir Bill’s shindig. You see, he and #TeamCountry are more into chill hangs, and the Bingley sisters prefer a strictly regimented party that very much stands on ceremony. Nevertheless, people mostly seem to be having a good time, especially Doug the Pug and Marcia Bennet. Also having a good time are the newly arrived military regiment, who are here on what I guess is the regency equivalent of shore leave much to the delight of the more flighty young ladies present. JudgyPants also backs their commanding officer into hosting a ball, and while normally I think it’s kind of rude to push anyone to host a party, there’s clearly very little else to do here in the boonies, and sometimes you gotta make your own fun. Speaking of which:

Baby Bennet: Boring Stories, quit playing that lame-ass concerto or whatever and drop a beat — we want to dance!
Boring Stories Bennet: MOM, this isn’t fair, my piece isn’t over yet!
Mom Bennet, no filter OR inside voice: Pipe down and play Uptown Funk, Boring Stories!
Sir Bill, for some reason relegated to actually raising the younger Bennet kids as well as his own daughter: Look, Boring Stories, clearly not everyone can have the good taste that we share, but let’s be polite to the rest of the party; you’re the best pianist here, don’t deprive everyone!
Boring Stories: Fine, but I’m doing this under protest.

While the kids dance, Charlotte and JudgyPants talk about romance. Charlotte’s take is that Marcia Bennet should lock it down with Doug the Pug as soon as possible; making her feelings very plain and even exaggerating them so she doesn’t miss out on the match. JudgyPants doesn’t get it at all: she wants all the facts on a potential partner before she commits. They also talk about Grumpy Cat, whom Charlotte notices lurking in the corner and watching JudgyPants. Why? Who can say! Speaking of, Grumpy Cat is insistent on dismissing dancing as an activity. Is it perhaps because these are his moves?

A woman dances, badly, at the center of a dance floor while a group looks on

Sir Bill: Seriously, Grumpy Cat, you should dance with JudgyPants!
Grumpy Cat, in a magnificent flip flop: I would actually like to dance with you.
JudgyPants: Well that’s swell, but I don’t want to dance.
Sir Bill: What is HAPPENING. Come on, JP, this weirdo clearly is making an exception for you!
JudgyPants, sarcastic: Yeah, he’s SO polite! Anyway, bye!
Regency Regina George, sidling up: So, these people really are the worst, huh?
Grumpy Cat: Well, actually, I was thinking about how I’m gonna describe JudgyPants’ eyes in my self-insert slash fic later. Crap, did I say that out loud?
Regency Regina George:

A man, very nonplussed, asks "Her?"

The next day, Marcia Bennet’s breakfast is interrupted by an invitation to go hang out with the Bingley sisters.

Mom Bennet: Ugh, unfortunately the boys won’t be there, but still.
Marcia Bennet: This will be fun! Can I borrow the car?
Mom Bennet: It’s like none of you kids have schemed a day in your life. Absolutely not, you’re taking the horse; it looks like rain and this way you’ll get stranded there overnight so you’ll actually have a chance to see your boyfriend. You’re welcome!

And Mom Bennet’s plan works even better than she’d hoped. Midway through an excruciating dinner interrogation regarding the Bennet relations and their wealth, Marcia Bennet all but passes out at the table: she’s caught a fever, and will now have to stay at Doug the Pug’s house until she recovers. Fevers, as we’ve learned in previous recaps, can be pretty dangerous, but Mom Bennet isn’t worried: she’s gonna get Doug the Pug and Marcia Bennet married even if it kills someone.

JudgyPants: Well, that’s as may be, but I think I’d better go visit Marcia, she’s probably miserable.
Mom Bennet: Do I have to explain again what the objectives for you kids are? There are no eligible men over there; you should go meet the soldiers with your sisters.
JudgyPants: Ovaries before Bro-varies, Mom. I’m going to see Marcia, and I’m going to walk. It’s only three miles, I’ll be back for dinner!
Mom Bennet: You’ll look a MESS if you walk three miles through dirt.
JudgyPants: Marcia won’t care, and neither will I!

And so off everyone sets on their various excursions. JudgyPants does indeed get quite muddy, and of course, the first person she bumps into over at Doug the Pug’s house is Grumpy Cat.

Grumpy Cat: LOL you walked here?
JudgyPants: Yeah, what does it look like? Anyway, please take me to see my sister, I’m worried about her.

Inside, the Bingley sisters talk smack about JudgyPants’ muddy hems over breakfast, which is indeed shady, but since there really isn’t all that much to DO out in the country I guess one does need something to discuss over one’s toast.

Regency Regina George: She’s too independent.
Doug the Pug: I just think it means she cares about her sister, which is nice, and hard to relate to at this particular moment!
Grumpy Cat: Yeah, and the exercise made her look even cuter somehow? What is HAPPENING?
Regency Regina George: Seriously, what IS happening? The whole family is ridiculous and not fancy enough for us.
Doug the Pug: I don’t care!
Grumpy Cat: Well maybe you should — they’re not in a good position, and Marcia Bennet might just be after you for your money!
JudgyPants, entering: Hi, so, my sister is really not doing well guys.
Doug the Pug: I’ll get a doctor. You definitely should stay here until she’s out of the woods!
JudgyPants: Oh, no, I can’t put you out like that!
Regency Regina George, shady AF:

Mocking Spongebob meme with the caption "Oh, No, I cAn’T pUt YoU oUt LiKe ThAt!"

Doug the Pug, ignoring that: No, you’re definitely staying. I’ll have your family send an overnight bag.

The matter decided, everyone divides up for a day of country livin’ i.e. the men go out hunting, and JudgyPants holes up in Marcia’s sickroom. Alas, she can’t stay in there forever, and has to go down to dinner with everyone to be polite. At least Doug the Pug is nice, but everyone else is really kind of the worst. JudgyPants settles in for an evening of reading, while most of the rest of the group plays cards. Enter Grumpy Cat, who politely inquires after the health of Marcia, before sitting down to write a letter to his sister, who apparently is the most perfect creature on god’s green earth. She’s beautiful! She plays the piano super well!

Doug the Pug: Seriously, you gals are all so talented — you’ve got so many skills, it’s incredible!
Grumpy Cat, trying to flirt?: Ok, pump the brakes, very few women are truly accomplished; she’s also gotta be into reading.
JudgyPants: LOL, no wonder you don’t know anyone accomplished; that list of requirements is long as hell.
Regency Regina George: Or maybe you only hang out with losers!

The next day, Mom Bennet, not trusting her kids to execute her plan, drops in to visit. Marcia? Still too sick to be moved. This house? Too sick to move out of; surely Doug the Pug will stay forever!

Doug the Pug: It’s true, this place is great!
Grumpy Cat: Wow, cool it dude; remember what I said earlier about the people here.
Mom Bennet: How dare you!
Baby Bennet: Hey while we’re here — you’re still gonna throw a ball like you promised, right?
Doug the Pug: Definitely, just as soon as your sister is better.
Mom Bennet: Wow, see, THIS is how men should behave! Looking at you, Grumpy Cat!
JudgyPants: Oh my god, MOM. You’re embarrassing everyone!

Speaking of embarrassing, later that evening, Regency Regina George attempts a power play. Grumpy Cat, you see, would rather read his book than pay attention to her, and despite his somewhat accidental reveal of his incipient crush on JudgyPants, Regency Regina George seems to think that if she invites a direct comparison, she’ll come out on top. Her plan? Get JudgyPants to walk around the room in circles with her.

Regency Regina George: Wanna join our weird indoor parade, Grumpy Cat?
Grumpy Cat: Uh, no thanks, that would defeat the purpose.
Regency Regina George, fake innocent: Whaaaaat? What is he saying, JudgyPants?
JudgyPants, out loud: Let’s not ask.
JudgyPants, internally:

A man uncomfortably yells "Help meee!"

Grumpy Cat: Clearly you’re walking around so that I can get a good ogle in; I’m fine here.
Regency Regina George:

A man looks at someone off screen over the caption "oh, you!"

What’ll we do to get back at him for this slight, JudgyPants, ol’ pal?
JudgyPants: I cast Vicious Mockery.
Regency Regina George: But how can we make fun of him, he’s perfect!
JudgyPants: LOL. Oh, you’re serious! Well what about being vain or prideful?
Grumpy Cat: Yes, vanity is the worst... look at Regency Regina George! But pride is ok if you know you’re superior. My big issue is that I hold a grudge with the best of them.
JudgyPants: I mean, that’s not great, but I can’t be too mad at it. Your issue is actually that your default state is to hate everyone.
Grumpy Cat: And yours is that you judge people too quickly.
Regency Regina George: Oh my god, now they’re flirting? Again? Shut it down, who wants to hear me play pianoforte?!

All too soon, Marcia is recovered enough to head back home. She and Doug the Pug share a lingering goodbye that poor JudgyPants is forced to witness up close, while inside, the sisters Bingley crow about their newly won snobby solitude. Grumpy Cat endures Regency Regina George’s teasing about the departing JudgyPants whilst staring after the Bennet sisters like he’s Charlie Bucket and they’re a birthday Wonka Bar. How can one socially awkward gentleman contain such multitudes of emotion? Is JudgyPants truly so oblivious that she hasn’t noticed Grumpy Cat is very much picking up what she’s putting down? Is someone going to recognize Mom Bennet’s strategic mind and offer her a cabinet position? We’ll just have to wait for episode 2 to find out.