The Bridge Between Period Pieces and Today: “Bridgerton”

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Phoebe Dynevor and Rene-Jean Page’s characters, Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Bassett, dance together as part of their hoax.

By Gloria Kosir, Feature's Editor

A new period-piece has hit the charts as Netflix’s new series, “Bridgerton,” is played by thousands across the U.S. The eight-episode series is  based on Julia Quinn’s book, “The Duke and I,” which is a part of a larger series titled, “The Bridgerton Series.” The show follows Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter of eight English children played by Phoebe Dynevor, and her coming into society. Her eldest brother, Anthony, is tasked with scouting out a suitor for her and making sure she marries well.

While Daphne is trying to decline the hand of a man Anthony has found, she stumbles into one of her brother’s dearest friends, Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings, played by Rege-Jean Page. He refuses to marry, and Daphne is in need of better suitors, so they make a pact to pretend to be courting. While this is happening, an anonymous author under the pen name Lady Whistledown is publishing gossip letters, keeping everyone up to date on the scandals and news of London’s elite. It’s exactly like if you took “Gossip Girl” and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” and put them in the Regency era, except Julie Andrews voices the lady with all the knowledge, not Kristin Bell.

The series continues for eight hour-long episodes, each with its own set of scandals. The script seems to be historically accurate, but the tone of the actors’ voices is a unique contrast. They talk in a formal manner but carry the inflection of someone in the 21st century for a lot of the series. The show is full of comedic moments, but it’s also very graphic. There are multiple explicit scenes in the series. I’m not sure if the books were like that too, but I personally didn’t think those scenes fit well for a series set in the Regency era.

Netflix did a great job of utilizing color in the show. There aren’t any scenes where the colors on the screen don’t add to the story, and it really builds on to the atmosphere. The sets in the series were amazing, and so were the costumes. I was absolutely blown away when I saw how intricate they all were, and barely any costumes were reused for the most part. While the actors were all very talented, I didn’t feel that their characters were anything special. They were all three-dimensional and well thought out, but I didn’t feel anything strong towards any of them. Of course, Penelope Featherington, played by Nicola Coughlan, is the exception seeing as she’s an absolute gem.

This series is definitely different than other period pieces. It’s more upbeat, colorful, and has more modern drama. Another way that Netflix modernized the show is through the music and casting. Traditionally, if the directors and producers wanted to keep it historically accurate, they wouldn’t have cast people of color as royalty, but they went against the norm and it was new for a lot of people. The Queen is played by Golda Rosheuvel, who is Guyanese and British. The soundtrack is also very unique. There are a few scores of pop music from the 21st century that’s been played with classical instruments without lyrics. I thought I was going crazy when I first heard the songs, but it was done pretty well. I didn’t completely dislike this season, but I do think it was overhyped on social media, especially TikTok.

There’s great news for fans of the show: Netflix has renewed “Bridgerton” and will be making a second season. It’s most likely going to be about another one of the Bridgerton siblings if they follow Quinn’s books. I’d rate the show a 3/5 stars, but it’s a good show to watch if you want to start watching shows or movies that take place in the past.