Is Bridgerton Really Everything it’s Claimed to be?

The infamous British time period piece, Bridgerton, lives on every social media platform. This Netflix original has caused an all around obsession with the fashion, lifestyle, and social culture of the 1800s. And the best way to describe this show is Gossip Girl meets Pride and Prejudice.

The new series, based on romance novels by Julia Quinn, follows the Bridgerton family, a widow and her eight, alphabetically named children, as they attempt to find their way through the scandals and drama of courting season in English high society. The show is filled with twists and turns leaving the viewer craving more. From fake relationships to affairs to an anonymous gossip source, Bridgerton does it all in a mere 8 episodes. And something unique to Bridgerton is its diverse cast, something typically foreign to period pieces. While the subject of race and racism is mentioned it does not become an overwhelming aspect of the plot. It is briefly explained to not leave viewers confused, although, it does beg many questions. 

This first season’s story is meant to be about Daphne, the eldest Bridgerton daughter, as she enters the marriage market during her first courting season. And if you are one of the lucky you will only have one courting season. A courting season involves a series of balls where eligible women are introduced to elbile men. The men will later visit the women’s homes, if they are interested in a relationship, and be examined for their suitability. Daphne’s season starts off right after Queen Charlotte names her the diamond of the season. But because of her eldest brother’s protective nature at the first ball, she fears she’s losing “value.” This is when Daphne comes up with a scheme that involves a duke named Simon, who is insistent on not getting married. Therefore, he needs a way to fend off the families who seek him as a suitor for their daughters. 

While there is much more to the plotline, the detailed focus, for now, is on Daphne and Simon as they are the main couple of the season. However, the other Bridgerton siblings have their own storylines which I will briefly mention for context purposes. Anthony is dating an opera singer who is of lower status and wealth then he. He also does not want to marry and believes that one of his brothers will do it and produce an heir for the Bridgerton name. Benedict is a classic middle child and goes off doing his own thing while keeping his family in the dark. However, his massive secret is that he is a secret artist. Not as controversial as his other siblings. Colin is a part of the counting season and is seeking out Marina Thompson. Eloise is the feminist perspective of the show as she could not be less interested in marriage. She is the first to point out the sexism in marriage and wishes her life could be more. 

Now would also be a good point to briefly mention the Featheringtons. Lady Portia Featherington is very competitive and wants her daughters to “beat” the Bridgetons this courting season. However, she is not only presenting her 3 daughters but also a cousin, Marina Thompson. Her daughter Penelope is best friends with both Eloise and Colin Bridgerton. Penelope is also secretly in love with Colin Bridgerton. 

So far we have seen the Pride and Prejudice aspect of the period piece but now it is time to add in its Gossip Girl aspects. The town has a gossip newsletter published by an anonymous writer who calls herself  “Lady Whistledown.” Lady Whilesdown knows everything about everyone. And Eloise Bridgerton is obsessed with uncovering the identity of this gossip source. Bridgerton has comical and dull moments, as does any other show, but if you are looking for something to simply entertain this might be the show for you. 

Starting off with the mechanics of the show rather than content, Bridgerton does episode length and time right. Each episode is about an hour long and there are only 8 episodes. However, because so much is packed into such a short amount of time, each episode is like its own little movie. Each episode leaves wanting more, yet is conclusive so you can stop. The writers also did not drag it out, they knew when to stop and put just the right amount of drama into each episode. With that being said, each episode has a lot of drama and storylines to keep up with, so it can get overwhelming. There are also many characters to keep up with throughout the show. But overall I think what is done in each episode is just the right amount of entertainment without being overbearing. 

Now on to actual content. Because the main focus of this season is Simon and Daphne I will be focusing on that, although the supporting characters did have some pretty interesting storylines. Simon’s entire personality is based on a vendetta he had with his horrible father. I’m not kidding, Simon’s father dies and to spite him Simon vows on his father’s death to never marry and have children to end his bloodline. I mean the man is dead what’s he going to if Simon breaks this vow? Simon’s entire character is based on his issues with his absent father. I’m surprised to say this but Daphne was honestly a better character out of the pair. While her entire persona was based on being a housewife she didn’t know any better because society told her she could only do one thing. And even then she managed to become powerful enough to marry a duke, take control of her own life, and get exactly what she wanted. 

Because of the actual plot and storylines of the characters,  I don’t see Bridgerton as the serious drama period piece it’s trying to be. I personally see more as a dark romantic comedy gone wrong. I just don’t think it accomplishes the serious tone it was trying to take. However, if it had actually been more serious I think the show would have lost value. Because it has comical aspects, whether intentional or not, I see this show as entertaining. I don’t think it is an inspirational and eye opening period piece but I would recommend it to someone looking to watch something short, dramatic, and not too light.