I am so glad that you guys concede the weaknesses of the Joe Wright film. Honestly, for people who are steeped in this novel, or Austen in general, it is widely regarded as garbage. From my perspective, mostly because you can argue that the fundamental theme of P&P is substance over style it also pointedly disregards that theme. The Joe Wright film is 100% style over substance and heavily leans on the fact that most viewers will know the major strokes of the story. Fucking lush countrysides get endless moments while he gives us ZERO character development. Lazy storytelling and self-indulgent filmmaking. Trash.
I also think that, were you to look at the novel through this lens of style vs. substance, you will start to realize that what you are given is many many complex shades with characters that fall widely on the continuum between the two. It’s one of the great accomplishments of the book, really. This paradigm might lead to a much more nuanced view of Mr. Bennett, who has been fighting a battle with utter vapidity for over 20 years. Note that the only reason Jane and Lizzie are well read is exactly because he was engaged with them. Their mother was in charge of their schooling and took care of none of it. Mr. Bennett makes learning available to those that would seek it and his two eldest took advantage of that. He’s far from perfect, but he is a sardonic, sarcastic, exhausted, distant father who has been financially ruined by the excesses of his wife’s pursuit of style, while he is concerned only with substance. This is all there in the books and is hinted at in the miniseries.
Your view of Lydia might change as well. You seem to place modern ideas about the expectations for teenagers on her, but they do not apply here. Mrs. Bennett and Lydia conspire to make the choice that she will be “out” when she has no goddamn business being in public, based on her maturity. But, since she is in public, she is expected to behave and be treated like a woman. It was part of the social contract. Since she is at the polar, absolute farthest end of the style continuum, I find it hard to give her much slack, with the exception that a good portion of her relentless shittiness can be ascribed to Mrs. Bennett’s neglect.