Everyone everywhere seems to be talking about Bridgerton. From countless texts that read “Have you watched Bridgerton yet?” to endless memes about the show (with many featuring the infamous spoon–licking clip), it seems like Bridgerton has us all obsessed for good reason. The world of Bridgerton is alluring in so many ways—extravagant balls every night, promenades in beautiful gardens accompanied by stolen glances—and is a far cry from reality for most of us who are more or less stuck inside and glued to our screens.
If you're unfamiliar with Julia Quinn's novel set in the world of Regency England, then watching Bridgerton is an enlightening experience, to say the least. With power producer Shonda Rhimes and writer Chris Van Dusen—the minds behind shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal—it’s no surprise that the show is such a hit. It mixes all of the classic traits of a Shondaland production, like a ridiculously attractive cast and a drama–packed plot, with the uncommon addition of historical flavor.
Following the structure of Quinn’s novels, the series follows the rich and well–respected Bridgerton family of eight children, as well as the upper class’ lords and ladies in 1813 London during the social (husband–hunting) season. There’s Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest daughter, who recently entered the marriage market as an eligible debutante. We're also introduced to her overprotective older brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), their younger sister Eloise (Claudia Jessie), and their mother Violet (Ruth Gemmell), who is desperately trying to secure prosperous marriages for all of her children.
At the other end of the social spectrum are the Featheringtons, the seemingly–wealthy yet undignified members of the gentry, with Portia (Polly Walker), the household’s scheming head, her youngest daughter Penelope (Nicola Coughlan), and a mysterious distant cousin Marina (Ruby Barker).
Viewers follow Daphne, the series’ protagonist, as she navigates a new world of politics, sex, and love to find a husband. She falls for the Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset (Regé–Jean Page). It becomes clear that even though he's adamantly opposed to marriage and she claims to not be attracted to him, they're a perfect match. The pair falls into the classic rom–com fake–dating trope and hatches a plan to make Daphne appear more desirable to the market, while keeping adoring women away from Simon. It is the perfect plan, as long as they don’t end up falling for each other in the process. It’s a tale as old as time, but not what makes Bridgerton so addictive.
Having binge–watched the show in an embarrassingly short time frame, Street's managed to crack the code as to why this show is so addictive.
Everybody loves Julie Andrews
The balls, luncheons, and clandestine moonlit walks are all watched over and reported on by the all–knowing Lady Whistledown, who’s basically the 1813 version of Gossip Girl. Given the fact that she is voiced by Julie Andrews, one of the most beloved voices in Hollywood, it’s no wonder that we look forward to hearing her juicy snippets throughout the show.
Period pieces are an escapist’s dream
No TV show at the moment is as appealing as the period piece, a genre which is more often than not exceptionally optimistic. The period drama’s social and cultural aspects are never as complex as those we experience in present day, and we viewers are allowed to be swept away by the aesthetics rather than focusing on the struggles. We don’t want to watch medical dramas based around the pandemic or comedy shows about how everyone is stuck at home—we're already living that reality. Bridgerton allows us to immerse ourselves in a completely different world than the mess that we’re currently witnessing.
Shonda Rhimes has been known for emphasizing onscreen diversity since the premiere of Grey’s Anatomy in 2004, and her newest project is no different. Bridgerton has a very diverse cast—something which has been both praised and condemned—but strangely, racism has been eradicated in the Bridgerton universe due to the king’s interracial union. In fact, there are only a few memorable instances where race is explicitly talked about in the show, including a scene where Lady Danbury, Simon’s mentor, describes how English society is no longer divided by color. Additionally, the slavery and oppression present in the Regency era in Britain are never mentioned in the show. Regardless of the plot holes regarding race, it's great to see people of all background represented in the whimsy that is Bridgerton.
We are all desperate for love
To put it plainly, quarantine and social distancing have killed casual relationships. One of the main reasons that so many people are binging shows like Bridgerton is to live vicariously through the scandalous hookups that the show has to offer. We see the stuffy Regency rules being scrapped as the members of the upper class engage in scandalous hookups, and it is oh–so satisfying.
We cannot resist the lavish clothing
Wigs, empire–waist dresses, gloves, corsets, bonnets and fans. Need I say more?
Bridgerton is a big–budget production, so you would expect there to be great attention to detail, but the costume designers went above and beyond for the show’s stunning outfits. Each dress is so intricately detailed and decorated to reflect the character wearing it. Throughout the show, viewers see Daphne in soft pale blues and whites, while the more ostentatious Featheringtons opt for daring and bright pinks, yellows, and greens. If that isn't enough to convince you of the careful stylistic choices, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick revealed that for the first six episodes of the show, over 350 costumes were made for the female actors alone.
The classical covers of modern music
Bridgerton is full of twists and turns, but perhaps one of the biggest twists throughout the show is its choice of music. Seriously, one of the most consuming tasks for the viewer is trying to figure out what 21st–century track is being covered by the orchestra at each extravagant ball. Once identified, the juxtaposition of songs like “bad guy” and “thank u, next” with the coy social interactions of Regency London is one of the most charming aspects of the show. Chris Van Dusen, one of Bridgerton’s showrunners, revealed in an interview with O that the choice to use contemporary music in a non–contemporary setting was meant to reflect the show’s fresh take on the period romance drama.
All in all, Bridgerton is bright, fun, and absolutely bingeable (I may or may not have watched all eight episodes in two days). Although a second season has not been confirmed yet, due to its popularity, it's very likely that we will get one soon. Ultimately, this show made such an entertaining watch and everyone should give it a go whether they're a period drama fan or not.