Classics are always the right choice. How can we resist them when they allow us to have a secondhand experience of a world that we have never known? Because of this specialty, period dramas have become one of the most loved genres worldwide, and how realistically they portray the past has become the most important factor when judging their quality. However, Bridgerton is somewhat different. The drama, Bridgerton, reinterpreted British aristocratic society during the Regency era with a modern perspective. In this review, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) will look through the charms of the new period drama, Bridgerton.
Welcome to the World of Bridgerton
Bridgerton is a Netflix original drama series that pictures the romance between Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter of the aristocratic Bridgerton family, and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, during the Regency era in London. The drama, Bridgerton, created by Chris Van Dusen, is based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling Bridgerton series, and season one is based on the first book of the series, The Duke and I. The eight-episode first season premiered on Netflix on December 25th, 2020, like a Christmas gift and received many positive comments. In January 2021, Netflix revealed the long-awaited second-season renewal.
|Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset (vox.com)|
-Plot of Bridgerton
Bridgerton follows the story of Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter of the Bridgerton family, as she comes out as a debutante in London. Daphne is a gorgeous, intelligent, and warm-hearted girl whose life goal is to find a perfect match. She enters the competitive marriage market with Queen Charlotte’s favor, who, in the words of the secretive Lady Whistledown, chose Daphne as “a diamond of the first water.” However, soon, Daphne is swept up with anxiety about her marriage, for her overprotective older brother, Anthony Bridgerton, rules out her potential suitors. Lady Whistledown exposes her situation to the public through her revealing society papers in which Daphne is described as a pitiful, miserable girl who ends up in an anticlimax. In the meantime, the Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset, visits London to handle a few tasks and gets to know Daphne Bridgerton. Simon once promised to remain a bachelor due to domestic problems, so he hates to be bothered by the debutantes and their mothers. Therefore, he makes a deal with Daphne to fool Lady Whistledown and the entire marriage market by acting like a couple.
Inside the Charms of Bridgerton
Bridgerton received many positive comments for its beautiful scenery, makeup, hairstyles, and dresses. In an interview with the magazine, Glamour, Marc Pilcher, the hair and makeup designer of the show, revealed that his team invested a lot of time and effort to create the perfect look for every character. According to Pilcher, “No wig is the same, and nearly every look has a story – or hidden message – behind it.” For example, Queen Charlotte was initially supposed to wear only two wigs during the entirety of season one. However, Pilcher convinced the showrunner to make a difference by saying, “Her husband is ill, she doesn’t have a whole lot left in her life, so all she’s got is to dress up in new frocks.” The convincing went successfully, and Queen Charlotte ended up wearing the most amazing wigs and outfits during the course of season one.
|Queen Charlotte (tatler.com)|
Along with the stunning visuals, the beautiful soundtrack is another reason for the show’s success. Since Bridgerton is a Regency-era period piece, most of the soundtrack is orchestral, but the music team added a little fun by putting a new spin on some popular pop songs into orchestral versions. The songs, which are already well-known to the public but disguised in another genre, surprised the audience and successfully grabbed their attention. For example, in the first episode, in a scene when potential suitors visit the house of a debutante they like, an orchestral version of Girls Like You by Maroon 5 is played. The lyrics of Girls Like You are about wooing a woman, so the song’s theme and the scene perfectly match one another. As shown from this example, the music of the show is both familiar and fresh to the audience.
Lessons from Bridgerton
Bridgerton cast black actors and actresses to play the queen and several aristocrats during the Regency era in London. This casting provides a few lessons. First, Bridgerton allows us to see people of color in various ways other than just victims of racism. This is very meaningful since it is another kind of discrimination to portray someone unnecessarily pitifully even if he or she is an equal to others. Second, the show lets the audience imagine what the world would look like without racism, providing vision and inspiration to people about a utopia free of racism. Last and not least, Bridgerton uses love as a means to overcome the obstacles of racism. During the show, Simon Basset, a black Duke, is told, “We were two separate societies divided by color until a king fell in love with one of us.” This line indicates that racism did exist during the times of the show, but it eventually disappeared as the king fell in love with Queen Charlotte. This setting provides a message that love is and always will be the key solution to racism.
|Simon Basset and Lady Danbury (whtimes.co.uk)|
Bridgerton provides feminist ideas by criticizing sexual discrimination during the Regency era of London and picturing passionate, intelligent, and progressive female characters. The show does not hesitate to show the ugly side of the traditional aristocratic society when it comes to sexual discrimination. The bachelors in the show enjoy a free sex life, having secret love affairs with working-class women and visiting brothels, while the debutantes completely lack knowledge about sex and cannot even stay in the same space along with another man. By contrasting these two different treatments, the show tries to criticize the sexual discrimination that used to happen back then. Moreover, Bridgerton portrays a few female characters who are sick of the marriage market and just want to live their own lives without worrying about whom they would marry. Eloise Bridgerton, who decides to delay her debut in order to study more, and Lady Whistledown, who breaks the rules that women should not write, are examples of this. By showing these characters and giving them important roles during the course of the show, Bridgerton conveys a message to the public that women are equal to men.
|Eloise Bridgerton (townandcountrymag.com)|