10 Reasons You Need To Watch Bridgerton On Netflix: It’s Sexy, Scandalous And Bingeable AF!
T’is the season when all you want to do is curl up under the bedcovers, a wine glass/mug of hot chocolate in one hand and chocolate/popcorn/pizza in another, and binge holiday movies and romantic shows. I mean, I’m writing this in Mumbai, and even here it is cold enough to want to shun all work and just lose myself in the holiday spirit, daydreaming about my NYE plans! Since Christmas was a long weekend that allowed us to do all of the above, I used my time to bingewatch Netflix’s newest series, Bridgerton. This adaptation of Julia Quinn’s bestselling books set in the competitive and scandalous world of Regency London in the 1800s is created by Chris Van Dusen and presented for television by TV royalty, queen Shonda Rhimes herself! The romance drama stars Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Adjoah Andoh, Jonathan Bailey, Claudia Jessie, Nicola Coughlan, Ruth Gemmell, Golda Rosheuvel, Polly Walker, Sabrina Bartlett, Luke Newton, Luke Thompson, and others.
And can I just say, Bridgerton is sexy, scandalous, and bingeable AF!
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What’s Bridgerton about?
There are a lot of things that come together to make Bridgerton this delicious, gourmet comfort food for your romance needs. To begin with, the cast is a bunch of talented and extremely good-looking peeps. One look at the lead, Regé-Jean Page, in the trailer had me gasping for more! And just one episode in, when you’re introduced to the lovely Bridgerton family, including the female lead, Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, I was on board! Her chemistry with Page, who plays the Duke of Hastings, is fire!
The series is set in Regency London, which is the time period approximately between 1795 to 1837, when King George III ruled Britain. The London high society was flourishing, and the era marked distinctive trends emerging in fashion, art, architecture, and culture. But the real pull of a period movies and shows is always the repressed human emotions and desires, which make for interesting storytelling, because both, the results of the repression and the unravelling of the repression behind closed doors, can be enticing to watch. But the highlight of Bridgerton, as written by Julia Quinn and adapted for TV by Shondaland media, is that it’s a story of how women seize power at a time when they are, by rule, without any agency.
As with most period dramas, this one flaunts ample of exquisite British Regency fashion and incredible set pieces, spending a whole lot of time in decked up ballrooms, mansions and royal castles. In fact, with its plot centered around Regency London’s high society and a scandalous writer who anonymously chronicles their deepest, darkest secrets, Bridgerton is pretty much like Gossip Girl but in period London! The first season begins with something like the Cotillion that we see on GG, where the eldest Bridgerton sister, Daphne is amongst several marriageable misses making their society debut, and trying to win the Queen’s approval.
Crowned ‘Diamond of the season’ by the Queen, Daphne thinks there’s going to be a line of suitors calling upon her. However, when her elder brother, the Viscount Anthony Bridgerton’s meddling sends all men packing, she wonders if she’ll ever find the perfect man. Until… a brush with the rakish Simon Bassett, Duke of Hastings, sends them both into an arrangement that could be mutually beneficial but also mutually destructive. Over the course of eight episodes, we delve into the lives of the Hastings, Bridgertons, Featheringtons and other high society families in and around Grosvenor Square, and the elusive Lady Whistledown who knows everyone’s secrets but will never tell!
Also Read: Sylvie’s Love Review: In A Flurry Of Holiday Romances, Tessa Thompson Film Beautifully Revives The Classic Love Story
Now, in case you still need convincing, here are ten reasons you need to watch Bridgerton! Like yesterday!
1. With Shonda Rhimes as Executive Producer, you can expect some rich storytelling!
For someone as obsessed with American television as I am, Shonda Rhimes is one of the TV queens (others include Julie Plec, I. Marlene King, Amy Sherman-Palladino) who has given us shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder. In her hands, Bridgerton isn’t just a well-executed, but it also expect it to be a fresh take on the story which has been around for a long time. She, along with creator Chris Van Dusen and fellow EP Betsy Beers have ensured that while the historical romance is true to the time period the show is set in, the underlying themes reflect a more modern approach. They’ve in fact found an interesting way to make the show more inclusive by casting black actors and integrating the diversity in the actual storyline (the Queen is of African descent in the show, and finds some backing from real historical facts).
Beers has said,
“The approach to the material in these books is not at all stuffy. It acknowledges the traditions in the period but we’re looking at it through a very modern lens. What does it mean to be a woman at that point in time? What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be royalty? How does the social system work? And how can you possibly have this amount of sex in 1813? Normally when you read a book set in this period of time, or certainly written during that period of time, you don’t really get to understand the full inner workings of how characters are reacting to their social responsibilities and what those neurotic hopes and fears are.”
2. Bridgerton is basically Pride & Prejudice-meets-Gossip Girl!
If you ask me, that’s possibly THE BEST combination for lovers of historical romance and scandal! Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen was written and set in the same Regency era, and was about mothers fussing over finding a match for their daughters and sons, much like this show. And the character of Lady Whistledown, who under her pseudonym, publishes ‘Society Papers’ full of gossip and startling revelations, without anyone knowing her true identity, manages to ruffle the feathers and grab the interest of everyone, including the Queen. That’s basically Gossip Girl, XOXO! While GG was voiced by Kristen Bell, Lady Whistledown is voiced by none other than the perfection that is Julie Andrews!
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And trust me when I say this, there’s lot of scandal to uncover in the ton!
3. The lead pair, Daphne and the Duke of Hastings have burning chemistry!
“I burn for you!” is a legit dialogue exchanged between the both of them on their wedding night! Ever since we first lay eyes on them together, their chemistry is so palpable, you could cut the sexual tension with a knife! Page makes for the perfect Duke, with long sideburns, that collar so typical of the time and heroes of romance novels, and his voice an absolute treat for our ears. Even Dynevor is stunning, like a beautiful porcelain doll, but with so much gumption inside! Together, they make for your typical opposites attract couple, and the intimate scenes between them generate enough chemistry to power the entire ton!
One of the most favourite sex screens on television has been the wedding night scene in Outlander between Claire and Jamie. Bridgerton manages to pull off something very close to the feeling that scene evokes in me, between Daphne and the Duke, and it is hot as hell!
4. The show is romantic but also sexy in every way possible!
At its heart, the show is a die-hard romance, the ones that make you go weak in the knees with all its chivalrous gestures, and longing stares. But let’s not forget, the biggest appeal of stories set in these time periods is the intimacy of ‘not touching’. Can the simple act of removing a glove from a woman’s hand or a man touching the exposed back of a lady be arousing enough? Oh yes, Your Grace!
Think oodles of stolen glances, making out behind dark hedges in the gardens, and the act of unravelling complicated tied corsets and breeches…. the taboo is sexy!
5. String quartet versions of some of our favourite songs!
Okay this is one of the biggest reasons why watching Bridgerton was an absolute delight! The show has plenty of ballroom dancing sequences. But instead of using classical instrumentals, the series uses string quartet covers of some of the most popular Top 40 songs by artists like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Cardi B, and… wait for it… Billie Eilish!
So you’ve got the characters dancing the waltz and suddenly you realise the song is quite familiar! They are covers of ‘Thank You, Next’, ‘Wildest Dreams’ and ‘Bad Guy’ by the Vitamin String Quartet, which are now latest additions to my playlist! The Bridgerton soundtrack has been curated by Emmy Award winning composer Kris Bowers, who has also created the 19-track original orchestral score for the show!
6. The female characters have range and female friendships are varied and plenty.
Bridgerton is set in a time period when women could be both, each other’s best friends and worst enemies. It was a patriarchal society, and misogyny was the order of the day, even when a Queen was reigning in her King’s stead. So to focus on female friendships, where women have other women’s backs and go out of their way sometimes to help each other so that the men can be kept at bay is a very unique and refreshing choice.
One of my favourite characters, in fact, is the Bridgerton matriarch, Violet, played by Ruth Gemmell, who is so unlike the women we see in such stories, such as Mrs Bennett from Pride & Prejudice. The dowager viscountess is warm, maternal, and actually quite cool. She allows her younger daughters to delay their society debut just so they can pursue education. She talks openly about how much she loved her husband, and tells Daphne how she and her father would often give into their passion before marriage. What’s more, when her son, Anthony, being the man of the house, makes a fallacious decision to marry Daphne to a ridiculous man, she opposes him and uses her skills to drive the man out of London!
Author Julia Quinn spoke about her decision to write female characters and friendships in this manner.
“When I first started writing, there were a couple of things that I didn’t find in the romance genre and one of them was good mothers. The Bridgertons have a mother everybody wants. She is really looking out for them even though she isn’t perfect and she makes some big mistakes. The other thing I wanted to write about was female friendships. It’s always been very important to me to show women supporting each other and women being friends.”
7. The women of Bridgerton have no agency, but they know how to take it for themselves.
Once again with the Outlander praise, but I can’t help it! It’s another book adaptation that deserves a watch if you love period romances and strong female characters. Claire Randall Fraser is one incredible woman. And watching the show and reading the books by Diana Gabaldon taught me that just because your story is set in history does not mean your female characters have to be meek and timid. They can be fierce, strong-willed, independent in their own ways.
And Bridgerton gives us a lot of such women. Daphne Bridgerton begins her arc as a doe-eyed debutante whose only goal is to find a love match and marry a good man, thus paving the way for a better future for her brothers and sisters. But over the course of the show, we watch her as she seizes her power, overrides the authority imposed by the men in her life and emerge as a powerful player on the London social circuit. Similarly, her sister Eloise Bridgerton reminds you a lot of Jo March (Little Women) in how she wants none of that marriage business but wants to write. In Lady Whistledown then, Eloise sees a chance for herself to become powerful without having to conform to the society’s ideas of respectable ladies. Even her friend, Penelope Featherington, or the modiste, Madame Delacroix, make for rich characters who make their own rules.
Author Julia Quinn has said,
“I’ve never been interested in writing doormats. The challenge, if you’re writing a historical romance set in the 1800s, is to write women with agency in a way that is at least plausibly historically correct because they didn’t have the same types of rights. You look at Daphne and Simon’s love story and in that society they are not equals. Technically he owns her when he marries her. He has total control. I love exploring women who are not necessarily bursting through their boundaries, because not all of us are going to be the women who change the world, but they are poking, rather than bursting through. I wanted to show all the little things that they do to make it better for the rest of us. They’re important too.”
8. Many male characters are budding female allies.
Now that’s a surprise, isn’t it? What is refreshing about Bridgerton is that it’s not just the one male lead who is ‘different’ than the other men, and therefore, makes for the perfect romantic hero to a feminist heroine. A lot of the male characters in the show surprised me with their arcs; they weren’t just chivalrous but they had genuine female ally potential. For example, the Bridgerton men, when they are brothers, are quite supportive and respectful of their sisters. Benedict smokes with Eloise; Anthony maybe a douche, since he is the eldest, but you realise that his ultimate decisions are all protective of Daphne and keeping her happiness in mind.
The fact that not all the male characters are oppressive and walking all over women is such a nice thing to see!
9. The costumes and production design are stunning!
Hello! Period fashion! The 1800s have been made to look gorgeous in Bridgerton! This is high society and royalty we’re talking about so every home is draped in luxurious fabric and has gilded doors and furniture and the ceilings are just breathtaking. You’ve got that warm, summery colour palette that the show is shot in, and since a lot of the scenes take place when the characters promenade in lush, manicured gardens, it makes for a pleasing sight. The Bridgerton home itself has such a beautiful façade!
I love the costumes! The men look the part of heroes of romance novels, and their suitcoats are nothing if not fashionable and accessorised to the T in impeccable 1800s fashion. The empire-line gowns and dresses, from bright jewel-toned ones worn by the Featherington women to the muted pastel shades worn by the Bridgerton women were all made from scratch by costume designer Ellen Mirojnick and her team of 200 artisans!
Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne Bridgerton, alone had some 100 dress that she wore in the one season and they were all made by hand!
10. There are nine books in the series, which means the show could go on for a long, long time!
I mean, listen, limited series are nice and all, but we all know the truth. Nothing beats the appeal of a long series with multiple seasons. And with a premise like this one, we know the show could go on a while! I haven’t read the books yet, but from what I gather, Season 1 focuses more on the Duke and Daphne, which is the focus of the first book. And in the next few seasons, we could see more of the secondary characters’ stories blossom. For example, one of the Bridgerton children, Francesca (have you noticed how all the Bridgerton children are named alphabetically?) has only been here for one episode. But in the books, she has quite an interesting romantic entanglement herself! And that cliffhanger the season ended on? Clearly, there’s more than meets the eye!
So, people, I suggest you follow my routine. Pour yourself a drink of choice, grab something yummy, light some scented candles and indulge in the pleasure that is Bridgerton, currently streaming on Netflix!