Netflix original Bridgerton shines bright

Streaming platform’s new show sparks renewed enthusiasm for England’s regency era

Netflix has once again gifted watchers a binge-worthy series, this time in the form of a captivating period piece. Released on Dec. 25, 2020, the new drama series Bridgerton has become an instant success, inciting fervor for England’s Regency era.

Based on Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels, the show is reminiscent of a Pride and Prejudice meets Gossip Girl crossover, and was released at the perfect time as both would leave Netflix only 6 days after the show’s release.

The first season of Bridgerton follows the complex lives of the wealthy Bridgerton family as they navigate Regency-era London’s Debutante season. As the story unfolds, salacious rumors are exposed by Lady Whistledown, the anonymous town gossip who distributes a regular newsletter.

The show, which was produced by Shonda Rhimes, who is notorious for her fast-paced and unexpected plotlines, is sure to keep watchers on their toes as what feels like seasons of drama unfold in just 8 episodes.

Bridgerton is focused around the unconventional feminist character Daphne Bridgerton, who is considered the “diamond of the season.” While Daphne stays on the traditional path laid out for her by her family, she remains a complex and powerful presence in the season’s plotline. Her character demonstrates that a want for a traditional life and marriage does not diminish the worth and strength of a woman.

Other strong female leads, such as the powerful Lady Danbury, the influential Queen Charlotte, and of course the show’s opinionated narrator Lady Whistledown, give a depth to the show that goes beyond what a typical period piece would.

The show also broke ground by inclusively casting people of color beyond the typical servile roles they are often limited to in period dramas. Powerful nobility such as the Duke of Hastings, Lady Danbury, as well as Queen Charlotte herself are all played by Black actors, moving beyond the all-white cast that is typical of period pieces. Through its casting, Bridgerton sets a powerful standard that hopefully other shows in the genre will follow in the future.

However, it isn’t just the plotlines that make Bridgerton so captivating. Fantastic costumes, as well as the modern music played by string quartets, are almost enough to keep watchers entertained by themselves. The costumes, which feature empire waist dresses, bold colors, and elbow-length gloves, are fascinating on their own, but even more so when seen swirling along to a classical rendition of Ariana Grande’s “Thank u, next.”

While not always historically accurate, Bridgerton’s first season is a smashing success, and for good reason. Constant drama and excitement, accompanied with issues that remain true in our modern society, make the show captivating to watch, and hopefully will continue to do so in future seasons.

Final grade: A