“Bridgerton”: A Modern Escape Into A Saucy and Scandalous Britain


Netflix’s fantasy period drama “Bridgerton” provides viewers with an escape from reality. (Courtesy of Twitter)

“Emma” meets “Gossip Girl,” “Pride and Prejudice meets “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Chris Van Dusen and Shonda Rhimes’ newest Netflix period drama, “Bridgerton,” has taken the streaming platform by storm. Within 28 days, the show reached over 63 million households, became a top 10 show in all but one of Netflix’s 190 countries and claimed Netflix’s number one spot in 76. Bridgerton is Netflix’s fifth-biggest original series launch of all time… but why?

Many have referred to the show as a game changer. Van Dusen teleports viewers into a modernized and vastly different England in 1813, where a Black woman reigns as Queen, and different races are admired and accepted in British society. The show revolves around the trials and tribulations of the quirky, and often chaotic, Bridgerton family. The first season follows the eldest daughter, Daphne, as she navigates her societal debut and finding a husband. Viewers accompany Daphne to opulent balls (where a string quartet plays a “waltz-esque” “Thank U Next” by Ariana Grande), watch as she nervously converses with gentlemen callers and support her when she makes the ultimate choice between following her head and her heart.

After Daphne’s initial debut, the Queen labels her the “diamond” of the season. Her high praise procures much chatter within the noble households and on the pages of a scathing gossip columnist, Lady Whistledown. As Daphne begins to fear her value is fleeting, and marriage is becoming less of an option, she teams up with a not-so-hard on the eyes Duke, Simon Basset, and they pretend to date (think “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” but the “Downton Abbey” version). Through their plan, suitors flock to Daphne out of jealousy, and pestering females (and their mothers) leave the Duke alone. A win-win! Or is it?

As Daphne goes to ball after ball, the youngest Bridgerton sister, Eloise, is on the hunt for the identity of Lady Whistledown. A proto-feminist with a knack for journalism and a desire to pave her path, she is cunning, ambitious and one of the most empowering aspects of the antiquated drama. 

The show also highlights the adventures of the Bridgerton boys: Anthony, Benedict and Colin. Although Violet Bridgerton, their mother, rules the family, Anthony appears as the central patriarchal figure since Viscount Bridgerton has passed. Throughout the season, he tests his romance with a sultry opera singer, Siena, and struggles with proving his worth as “the man” of the family. The youngest brother, Colin, is faced with his love triangle with the Bridgerton’s frenemies, the Featheringtons. When the Featherington’s cousin, Marina Thompson, arrives she suddenly captivates Colin. This is much to the dismay of the youngest Featherington sister, Penelope, who has always had a massive crush on Colin. This feud creates tensions between the two ladies and between the two families, especially when shocking details of Marina’s past emerge. 

An important aspect to note, “Bridgerton” has a lot of sex, and I am not talking about a casual sex scene here and there. Some episodes seem to have more sex than actual dialogue. Therefore, if you were thinking of having a Bridgerton viewing party with the grandparents or small cousins… give it some thought before you press play.

Bridgerton is far from perfect. Its predictability emerges from the creator’s devotion to the time-honored archetype of most romantic dramas: boy meets girl, boy and girl’s love story suffers, at the last minute they realize they are destined for each other and would you look at that! Happily ever after! Sexism is definitely a thought that comes to mind every now and then; Daphne’s persistent desire to appear prim, proper and perfect for her male suitors gets tiresome. Then again, it was a product of the era. However, just like romance novels are not encyclopedias of historical fact, this fantasized version of 1813 England is hardly historically accurate. So, to all of you history buffs out there, leave the dissatisfaction at the door and merely enjoy the laughs.

Ultimately, “Bridgertonoffers a form of escapism into a world where people of multicultural backgrounds are allowed and encouraged to escape. The orchestral arrangements of Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift, lavishly suffocating corsets and breathtaking cinematography alone are enough to tune in, but add in gallons of sexual tensions and salacious revelations? You have the perfect series to binge at the start of 2021.