Romance, drama, and story-telling galore
Bridgerton, Netflix’s newest romantic and exhilarating series, is produced by Shonda Rhimes and based on Julia Quinn’s hit novel series of the same name. It’s set during the lavish Regency era (1811-1820), which was the exotic brief period when George IV became the ‘regent’ — the acting ruler of the United Kingdom whilst taking over for his father, the gravely ill King George III.
The Regency period was one of constant partying (throwing grand balls), creative artistic expression, scandal, luxuriousness, and poetic grandeur. As the series commences, one of the first elements that we observe is the diversity amongst the main characters; the highest-ranking characters Queen Charlotte and the Duke of Hastings — also known as Simon Bassett and Lady Danbury — are Black. This is a refreshing casting choice, solidifying the notion that race should not preclude actors of colour from taking on historically white roles.
This choice is woven into the storytelling, too: Lady Danbury, one of the show’s Black matriarchs and mother figure to Simon, explains the importance of love, revealing their white king fell in love with a Black woman, Queen Charlotte, and their bond was the reason their progressive society was more accepting. The King’s love for Charlotte brought the country together and allowed people of colour to gain titles of dignity and respect from their peers, or so the story goes.
In the first episode, we’re introduced to the Bridgerton family, composed of four handsome sons, four gorgeous daughters, and the beautiful yet recently widowed mother. It is the beginning of the social season and Daphne, the eldest Bridgerton daughter, is preparing for her launch into society, meaning that she is one of the many young women competing over suitable suitors for their hand in marriage. This sequence might catalyze the feminist in some but certainly portrays the norms of the time frustratingly accurately to a modern audience.
As far as scandal goes, Lady Whistledown makes sure to cover the juiciest of drama and report it to the Londonians. I personally enjoyed just how powerful this mysterious character is, setting an example as to how you can enjoy life as a single, independent and successful woman — that you don’t need a man to define you. And let me tell you, they were all eating it up with their fancy silver spoons.
The show definitely has some eye candy, too, with a male protagonist who’s the textbook definition of jaw-dropping. The Duke of Hastings, better known as Simon (also Anthony Bridgerton’s best mate), made me envious that I could not turn back time just to be in his presence. From his first appearance on, I was engulfed; I felt like I was teleported right into their world.
The immediate chemistry between Daphne and Simon is always eye-catching. We know early on that they’re going to have a sizzlingly salacious whirlwind romance. A pact to assume each other’s identities ends in a predictable, yet beautifully complementary love story. However, the relationship is messy and a tad toxic, what with all the lies, deception and commitment issues. Its eventual triumph feels earned, since we’ve witnessed these characters evolve through highs and lows.
For those who are looking for a new series to binge, Bridgerton is a deliciously scandalous and drama-filled coming-of-age series, with a remarkable ability to draw viewers to the point of escapism. We strongly recommend it for all looking to take a break from the 21st century for a few days.