So, what is "Bridgerton"? You may have seen the old English drama dominating the top half of your Netflix home page, immediately playing a trailer before you have time to scroll down. For those of you who escaped the intriguing yet seductive teaser — here’s what you missed.
This eight-episode series illustrates the requirements of regency during a 17th-century English social season. Shown through the eyes of the prestigious Bridgerton family, the show includes multiple high-class young women and their families as they undergo the straining process to find and secure a suitable marriage.
However, the romanticized drama isn’t as predictable as you might anticipate, as a Gossip Girl-like narrator is introduced to elevate the relationships. In the pilot episode, a gossip column is revealed, written by the mysterious Lady Whistledown. This isn’t just a regular anonymous scandal sheet, as it details the season’s best secrets while including the names of every high-society individual. Narrated by the wholesome Julie Andrews, Lady Whistledown gets the attention of Queen Charlotte, who hires the young Eloise Bridgerton to uncover her identity. Although she finds many suspects, Whistledown’s true identity is revealed to the viewer in the last episode, perfectly setting up a season two.
Based on the book series by Julia Quinn, the show was brought to life by creator Chris Van Dusen and aired exclusively on Netflix. Beloved Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Shonda Rhimes is one of the show’s executive producers, which attracted many of her diehard fans to this new series.
Although the show realistically portrays the societal constructs of the 17th century, many modern Easter eggs can be spotted through the episodes. In one of the first ballroom scenes, an orchestra plays what sounds like a regal tune in the background, however an avid listener would identify the song as a cover of Ariana Grande’s pop hit "thank u, next".
Following the Hamilton mantra of “America then played by America now”, male lead Simon Basset is played by Black British actor Regé-Jean Page. Known for starring in Shonda Rhimes' legal thriller “For the People”, Page brings the Duke of Hastings to life. With the status of Duke bringing him a social step above the more common Lords and Ladies, Basset becomes the season’s most eligible bachelor — despite his refusal to find a Duchess.
Given that all 17th-century English high-class society members were white, Shonda Rhimes casts Page as one of the most powerful characters to create a balance realistically reflecting modern society.
Although the series comments on romance and marriage in a serious light, middle sister Eloise Bridgerton brings humor and perspective to the series. Hoping for education and freedom over an arranged marriage, Eloise provides countless snarky remarks to her perfectly proper sister and often ponders life over a forbidden cigarette.
Van Dusen does an excellent job of illustrating the inconsistencies between men and women during this era, especially through their understandings of love and sex. As the sheltered young women hope for true love with a handsome Lord, the male characters seem more in touch with reality, understanding that choosing love—at least with the women they want—is simply not an option.
After hearing about an unmarried pregnant woman, teenager Eloise is utterly shocked and struggles to gather information on conception while her older brothers are off sleeping with common women and frequenting brothels. Similarly, Daphne becomes engaged and married before she learns what really happens on a wedding night — but once she does, prepare for multiple episodes of her sexual escapades.
While I do recommend "Bridgerton" as the perfect weekend binge, I would avoid watching the later episodes with parents or younger siblings.
This is the opinion of Riley Hetherington, a sophomore communication studies major from San Diego, California. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow and tweet comments to @LALoyolan on Twitter, and like the Loyolan on Facebook.