Gossip Girl meets Jane Austen is not a description I thought I would be able to use to explain a TV show, yet the label perfectly illustrates everything that is Bridgerton. Bridgerton is an extremely popular Netflix series based on the novel, The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. Since its debut on December 25th, 2020 all I hear from my fellow historical romance lovers is “Have you seen Bridgerton? Great! Let’s discuss.”
A week after its release everyone I knew seemed to be watching it. My mom, my aunt, my best friend, and even my 85-year-old grandma could not help themselves from binging this steamy drama. According to Deadline, Bridgerton is Netflix’s biggest show and has broken numerous streaming records. The success of this adaptation secured it a second season less than a month after its premiere.
The story centers around the undeniable budding romance between Daphne Bridgerton (played by Phoebe Dynevor), a young woman entering formal society, and Simon Basset (played by Regé-Jean Page), a wealthy duke uninterested in marriage. While most of the narrative explores their relationship many other vibrant characters make an appearance and get their time in the spotlight.
Eloise Bridgerton (played by Claudia Jessie) and Penelope Featherington (played by Nicola Coughlan) light up any scene they are in with their youthful friendship and impressive intellect while their mothers Violet Bridgerton (played by Ruth Gemmell) and Portia Featherington (played by Polly Walker) rival even the most iconic television socialites. My personal favorite Lady Danbury (played by Adjoa Andoh), commands the audience’s attention in every scene she’s in with her wit and regal composure. Also, did I mention Julie Andrews narrates the whole thing!
Bridgerton is an absolute delight to watch not only because of the beautiful actors that grace the screen but also due to the elegant cinematography and dazzling costuming. A friend and I rewatched the series a few weeks ago and spent most of the time analyzing every way color was utilized to express the emotional state of characters. Everything is just so aesthetic and visually pleasing that I feel more awake just looking at it.
As mentioned before Bridgerton is based on a novel; in fact, it is the first in an eight-book series. Each story is centered around one of the Bridgerton children and their experiences with romance. It’s been hinted by Netflix, as well as the second book (The Viscount Who Loved Me) that season two will focus on the eldest Bridgerton, Anthony (played by Jonathan Bailey).
One of the best parts about Bridgerton is how much it has inspired an enormous amount of dedication and love from fans. Abigail Barlow enjoyed the show so much that she started writing musical numbers based on the events of the series and posted them to Tik Tok. This project has become so beloved by the community that Barlow is said to be making a Bridgerton musical with Emily Bear. I dare you to listen to her song I Burn for You and not sing it in your head and out loud all day. (Beware: Spoilers from the show in this Tik Tok! The series has gained a great deal of positive attention but it is also important to recognize that it is not flawless. USA Today wrote an interesting article about the show’s issues with colorism, while The Independent has pointed out how some viewers feel they have been queer baited. Bridgerton has also sparked lots of conversation surrounding the idea of consent and how it should be addressed in television. I loved watching this show but I think it’s crucial to acknowledge its faults and the ways it can do better in representing its audience.