I want to start this off by saying that I hate Wickham. I think he’s abusive and awful. I hate how he always fake-compliments Lydia by putting her down. I hate how he isolates her. I hate how he takes over her videos and makes them all about him, and how we see elements of vindictiveness in his videos.
I hate, especially, that he called Gigi “peach,” too—that he probably now knows that Gigi watches Lizzie’s videos, and wonders if she’s watching Lydia’s. It skeeves me out that maybe that message to Lizzie in Lydia’s video a while back was also a message to Gigi.
I want to punch Wickham in the face for what he’s doing and what he’s done, and I am not a violent person.
I also want to acknowledge that I heard enough to know that Wickham was emotionally manipulating Gigi. He played on her need to be needed, used the fact that he knows she’s kind of had a crush on him to get to her. He sought her out. He started a relationship with her under the guise of teaching her, and then made the moves—all when she was barely in college and he was substantially older. What he did to her was awful, and I do not want to imply otherwise.
But there’s one thing that really bugs me about that last episode: the fact that everyone in the narrative accepts that Darcy writing a check and Wickham taking it is proof that Wickham is in it for the money and that he never loved Gigi.
Don’t get me wrong; I think there’s enough additional evidence of Wickham’s character that under these circumstances, this is a fair conclusion. I absolutely do not want to defend Wickham here. But I want to defend some hypothetical innocent person who might be in Wickham’s position.
I really hate, hate, hate the implication that if you are in love with someone that you cannot have other priorities. That maybe, someone could have loved Gigi, but have still been willing to take the money.
Neither Gigi nor Darcy have ever been in a position where they needed money for anything, and they can’t imagine how money could ever be a barrier or a need. They’ve never contemplated doing something slightly stupid or slightly wrong for money. They’ve never had to.
Imagine Lizzie discovered she was in love with Darcy. Imagine someone said, “Lizzie, I will pay off all of Jane’s student loans and free her to work in her chosen career without having that hanging over her head, but you have to walk away from Darcy.” Imagine someone saying, “Jane, I will give your sisters lucrative jobs doing things they love, but you have to walk away from Bing.”
Those are hard choices—pitting one love against another. It doesn’t make you mercenary to love more than one person, to recognize that the lack of money causes problems.
You can do things for money that break your heart. Love pulls you in a lot of different directions, and I have a really, really hard time with people who have always had too much money judging someone for taking it. The Darcys don’t understand what the need for money feels like, how all consuming and scary it can be to feel constantly on the verge of falling. They don’t know what it’s like to be sick to your stomach for months on end because you and the people you love might have bad things happen to you simply because you don’t have money. They’ve never had to ask hard questions about whether to buy food or medicine, whether to break the law or see people you love suffer. Taking the money is not necessarily proof that there is no love.
This is all to say—I felt awful for Gigi throughout the story. I know Wickham’s a bad guy. I know he manipulated her. I am not going to give him a pass, not in the slightest.
But the punchline of this last episode—where everyone nodded and judged him for taking a check, and assumed that THAT was the proof of his being a dickbag (instead of relying on the better proof we had—his emotional manipulation of her)—that rubbed me the wrong way.
Co-signed hardcore. Wickham is scum, but coding taking money as evil is… yeah, problematic, especially because I can say with absolute certainty that I’d take financial security over romance in a hot second.
I think one important thing is that… it seems to me that Wickham is a financial leech. Yeah, he probably chose Gigi as a mark in part to get back at Darcy, but also because her life is paid for, so staying close to her means his life is paid for too.
With Lydia, I’m assuming that Wickham is gunning for another check, because he knows that the Bennet’s don’t have money. In a way, when Darcy gave George that original check, he fucked up hardcore because now he has an easy way to get rid of George and George knows that is a tactic for him.
That’s what makes Wickham morally reprehensible, that he walks into relationships looking to use them for support (Gigi said that he needed the money when he offered to coach her).
tl;dr: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has some serious class issues, and I wish I knew how aware the creators were of that. Thankfully there seems to be some self-awareness going on.