Spicy, Seductive Escapism in High Society
Streaming on Netflix | 2020 | TV-MA | 1 season
Genre: Witty Regency-Era Romantic Drama Why We Watched: There are two groups of people: those who watched Bridgerton and those who will watch Bridgerton. Resistance is futile! IndieWire revealed that over the holidays, Netflix recorded its biggest Christmas week in company history, in large part thanks to this series. Bridgerton reached over 63 million households and currently is the #1 watch in over 76 countries. We watched it in one weekend when it first dropped. And, after the insurrection and near sedition this week in D.C., we've been streaming Bridgerton on repeat to destress.
You Might Also Like: You could pick up another period piece like Sandition or even Dickinson, if that's your jam. But, if you're excited by Bridgerton's romance, you should listen to RomComPods. The podcast brings happily-ever-afters right into your earbuds! Two seasons of the fiction pod are available to stream.
It's been a week, both here in D.C. and across the country. If you're looking to hit pause for the weekend and decompress, now is the perfect time to watch—or re-watch!—a show that's the TV equivalent of your favorite comfort food: Bridgerton. Bridgerton is a romantic drama that follows the Bridgerton family on their quest to find love in 19th century London high society. I know, that sounds like something that would be required reading for your mandatory college English seminar—stay with me! On the surface, the show has all the hallmarks of a Regency-era period piece. Posh English accents, picturesque shots of the English countryside, dreamy dancing at balls, etc. etc. Produced by Shonda Rhimes, Bridgerton brings this world to life with a modern twist. It depicts a 19th-century Britain with Black royalty and aristocrats. The show centers on the Duke of Hastings, a Black man named Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), and his faux interest in Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest daughter of a wealthy white family. Jane Austen fans are familiar with the plight of women of the era. Typically, family property was passed down to the eldest son in a family, rather than dividing the property among all children. This left women at the mercy of their male relatives—and in a position of needing to marry. While Daphne must find a husband to survive, Simon is free to gallivant around. And that's exactly what he intends to do! The two hatch a ruse: In faking a courtship, Daphne will attract a suitor and Simon can avoid commitment with any one woman. Bridgerton is packed to the brim with modern twists on aesthetically, auditorily pleasing scenes. The outfits have sparked 2021's favorite new trend, Regencycore, with ornate details on everything from Daphne's corsets to the Queen's headpieces. The soundtrack features orchestral covers of contemporary pop songs—think Ariana Grande's "thank u, next" and Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams." And the entire series is narrated by none other than Julie Andrews, who voices the mysterious, anonymous gossip columnist, Lady Whistledown. This show is basically Gossip Girl meets Pride and Prejudice. Not bad, right? Several recent articles, like this one from Vox, have questioned whether the show actually explores the issues that emerge from diverse casting. Undoubtedly, there is still an opportunity for the show's writers to connect what it means to cast Black actors in lead roles with how people of color would have experienced racism in Regency-era England. And, given the surprising popularity of the show, the likelihood of a season two renewal provides more screen time to do just this. So, dear reader, if you're looking for something to make you swoon this weekend, I suggest you steep some tea and pop on Bridgerton. If nothing else, it'll have you planning your first Regencycore-inspired purchase. Happy streaming! —Tess