Director: Julie Ann Robinson, Shonda Rhimes
Starring: Regé-Jean Page, Phoebe Dynevor, Nicola Coghlan, Jonathan Bailey, Julie Andrews, Claudia Jessie
Series Length: 8 Episodes
"I knew I had to step into the light someday and I could not very well be frightened. So, instead, I made myself frightening."
Bridgerton has previously been described as Netflix’s Downton Abbey, and the two shows have been compared countless times since. The show follows the lives of a well-to-do family with a high societal status in England during the 1800s; the Bridgertons. We learn early on that Lord Bridgerton passed away before the first season takes place, and his eldest son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) has taken over as head of the household. Season one follows the eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) as she attempts to secure a husband. Defined as the diamond of the season, it shouldn’t be a difficult task for Daphne, however, decisions are made for her which force her to go to desperate lengths in order to avoid an unfortunate outcome.
The series is given a Gossip Girl style narration by Julie Andrews as Lady Whistledown, a writer who hears and repeats every piece of gossip about the town in her own paper. Her identity is a mystery, however, and the subject of many subplots of the season. Her writings also drive Daphne to make decisions based on how she knows they will be received, knowing the entire town is fascinated with Lady Whistledown’s writings. She quickly becomes involved in a ruse with Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), the Duke of Hastings, created to help her procure a husband of good standing through jealousy and for him to avoid the attention of mothers looking to marry their daughters while he’s in town. However, the one thing this ruse teaches them is that playing fiction can often lead to reality.
The series itself is almost comparable to a reality show, the main difference being the elegant dresses and extravagance of life in high society in the 1800s, and who doesn't love that? It even has a rivalry between two households, the Bridgertons, who we are encouraged to favour, vs the Featheringtons. Of course, there are other mothers looking for advancements in society through their daughter’s futures, but these two families seem to take centre stage in front of Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel). The Featheringtons struggle to conceal their own problems throughout the series, and when Lady Whistledown eventually publishes certain pieces of information she has learned, the rift between these two households grows to a seemingly insurmountable size.
As these two houses continue to go head-to-head to see who wins the Queen’s favour, the highly predictable yet oddly addictive story between Daphne and Simon continues to evolve with problem after problem arising and being solved in an overly complicated way. My opinion of Daphne, and the opinion of many others, dropped significantly over the course of the last few episodes. Her rash actions, decisions made in anger and lack of thought for those around her overshadowed any good qualities shown earlier on in the series which is a disappointing end. Daphne’s character presented the opportunity to potentially prove to the younger Bridgerton sisters that one can marry and still be every bit the woman they were born to be, but it does feel like this opportunity was thrown away. Kids aren't the only thing that can make you happy!
All this time, the identity of the pot-stirring Lady Whistledown has remained a secret from everyone, despite Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) taking it upon herself to discover the true name of the writer she idolises. As we build up to the end of the season, she gets closer and closer to unmasking the author with a taste for gossip. While she never quite reaches that revelation, the audience does eventually find out who’s been behind the spilling of secrets this entire time. Let’s just say that the journey was far more exciting than the outcome and leave it at that!
While Bridgerton has its faults, they did nothing to persuade me to give up on the series - it remains highly addictive! A comedic twist on nineteenth-century life and a whole load of gossip definitely make it impossible to stop watching, which is helped by the episodes fitting together so smoothly that it's extremely difficult to tell when a new one has started. In my opinion, a strong dislike of some of the characters only shows the hold the show has on you, and while there might be negative opinions, it means you’re invested enough to care. That’s perhaps Bridgerton’s best quality, the ability to captivate an audience and keep them enthralled for eight hours of television.
If you haven't seen it already, I highly recommend checking it out on Netflix! There’s something for everyone in the series, whether it’s the main storyline, one of the countless sub-plots or even the soundtrack which contains a mixture of classical pieces and orchestral versions of more modern tracks! Check out the music here!
"Romance was entirely out of the question for both of us. But in removing it we found something far greater: We found friendship."
Seen Bridgerton already? Let me know what you thought in the comments!
Words by Chloe Pollard.
Trailer from YouTube - Netflix.