Shondaland’s latest production, Bridgerton, reached Netflix’s top 10 in every country in the world except one; this –along with the fact that over 82 million users watched its pilot– makes it Netflix’s biggest debut ever.



The Bridgertons.

The series is the first product of Netflix’s 150 million USD deal with the trailblazing producer Shonda Rhimes, which she believed to be the best way to expand Shondaland globally and Bridgerton has proven her right. The series begins by offering its viewers a romantic, thrilling, and colourful escape into the Regency era. The Bridgertons, four daughters and four sons, recently lost their father and are on a path to regain their place in society. Bridgerton is an adaptation of best-selling book series by Julia Quinn, following the eight siblings as they yearn for romance and finding their place in early 19th century England. 

The plot’s catalyst is the oldest sister, the graceful, kind, and beautiful Daphne, who has reached the age of marrying and her family is trying to get her a worthy (or just convenient) husband. Many families –including the Bridgertons’ rivals, the Featheringtons– have an implicit contest to get the best possible suitors for their daughters. Luckily for Daphne, there is a wide arrangement of suitors behind her. Daphne’s dilemma, however, is that she does not want to marry without love. Unluckily for her, she only lays eyes on the Duke of Hastings, perhaps the only one seemingly without interest to court her. The predictability of Daphne’s journey, where she seems to be able to get everything she could want, is both the beauty and the downside of the show.


Daphne and the Duke.

The series breaks a few conventions of period dramas, like the fact that the series does not feature period music or thoughtlessly include mainstream pop songs with vocals, well, sort of, but with a twist. It purposefully uses songs like Taylor Swift’s Wildest Dreams by stripping away the lyrics and having instrumental, classical-sounding covers of these mainstream pop songs. Most importantly, another convention broken is the inclusion of Black characters in royalty and the higher classes. Usually, Black characters in these stories are relegated to the sidelines, but what sets Bridgerton apart is that its creators engineered this world in such a way that a king’s wedding with a Black woman swiftly revolutionized the kingdom’s take on race, allowing the plausible integration of Black characters.

 This innovative take paves the way for Daphne and Simon’s (the Duke) scheme, who pretend to be courting for Daphne to regain desirability and gain free will over who to marry, and for Simon to be left alone. But, of course, their plans are ruined when they fall madly in love. What (or who) wraps this and many other secrets together is a more formal and powerful version of Gossip Girl, self-named Miss Whistledown, who manages to fascinate even the Queen herself through recurrent tabloids where she discloses any secrets she finds. Whistledown of course plays a key role in the couple’s charade as she documents their relationship because everyone is invested in their love. Miss Whistledown’s classiness is in part due to being narrated by the renowned Julie Andrews.Bridgerton

Bridgerton‘s extravagance and flamboyance are woefully overshadowed by its queerbaiting. Although the series’ creator was probably not able to alter one of the siblings’ original story from the book series (where they are all straight), the trailer in addition to the first episodes seems to be telling a very different story than the season ends up showing in its last episodes. The trailer features a kiss between two men without revealing who one of them was, which leaves room for one of the Bridgerton brothers to be queer and the plot seems to hint at one of them in particular. As Netflix itself put it in a press release regarding the series’ success, “more people want to see themselves reflected on the screen”. This quote, however, does not mean we want queerness to be instrumentalized to draw us into a series but only to find out the trailer has the same amount of queerness as the entirety of the series itself.

By taking us to this vibrant and beguiling version of the Regency era, the series accomplishes to deliver escapism during these harsh times, even when the narrative is not its strong suit. Bridgerton is indeed entertaining enough to binge-watch, but some issues are too much to be overlooked, including something Daphne does which is a spoiler I did not dare to mention in this review, but you would notice if you decide to watch.

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