People with hearts ready to spend Christmas inhaling Netflix’s new “Bridgerton” series would do best to resist the urge to compare and contrast with Jane Austen’s rigorous interpretations. Some connection is inevitable, as would be the case with any story set in the hustle and bustle of the upper crust of Regency London. Austen reigns eternally as the queen of form, and the series of “sensual” novels by author Julia Quinn, from which the series has been adapted, is shaped by what she has made.
But “Bridgerton” is a creation of Shondaland – an idealized vision of a world where everyone is a bit randy and no one notices the race. Specifically, it’s the first Shonda Rhimes product to report $ 150 million with Netflix, brought to us by protégé and series creator Chris Van Dusen. And while it may not qualify as a current classic, or even a very good one, it’s good enough to smooth out the riotous end of 2020.
All the blessings and visual brilliance that are expected from some version of 19th century England dreams seduce the front end, but beneath the show’s heavy neckline beats the heart of “Scandal” and the lust of “Gray’s Anatomy”. That is to say, this is a show dedicated to throwing the widest nets: a careful social policy that informs about the move of each character, interrupted by interruptions of banging in the back rooms and, at one very early moment, about a tree.
“Bridgerton” takes the physical longing present in Austen’s work and expands it into a fully developed humperia over the last half of the eight-episode season, setting all great balls, dinners, garden walks and afternoons, honorably nibbling ladybugs with gentlemen calling Regency Era literature features extravagant. pre-game stimulation.
Devoted Austenites could be scandalized. You might also want to loosen those ties on your vest a bit and settle in, because honestly, for a while, everyone will be talking about this confection.
“Bridgerton” evokes a craving – mostly for fancy cookies (ladies love their sweets!), But also for buds of wild floral colors and sparkles in all shapes, whether it’s gems, fireworks or raindrops on roses. Netflix knew exactly what it was doing by releasing this as a holiday ball – especially on this holiday, at the end of a miserable year.
Between lavish scenery and lavish costumes that are all illuminated and filmed to intoxicate the senses, the production shifts us to the center of its fantasy, making narration and dialogue secondary to the series ’success. Both aspects do the work along the way and follow the melodic pattern that Austen established on the page; this is just to point out that a little has jumped out of the script that qualifies as highly cited.
“Bridgerton” could really use his Violet Crawley, in other words. Our own Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) is the closest we approach to her not to cut words and not suffer fools, but what style she shows through her fashion. . . for which, to be honest, to die. (Only its cylinders are enough to send a person into Etsy’s rabbit hole.)
As for the story. . . honestly, if you’ve seen any modern film adapted after Austen’s work, you have an idea of what to expect; now step up the merriment and camp and banish the stiffness, except for those outdated dance dances. There remains still a touch with the calm nature that sharpens past films and BBC productions based on Austen’s work, but Van Dusen turns things around to attract the Gossip Girl constituency.
The narration of a society pamphlet writer named Lady Whistledown provides a place to meet these two audiences; Lady Whistledown has good for everyone in tone (a colloquial name for high society at the time) and keeps everyone on their feet.
That the mysterious character is expressed by Julie Andrews is further strengthened by the aforementioned bridge between classic and popular taste. Somewhere between these two dances is a series of anachronistic details, a little more noticeable than the processing of classical music tunes by artists like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.
But if you don’t recognize the famous hooks of pop songs here and there, whatever. The central charm is in the barely subtle rivalry between the Bridgertons, whose eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) was stunned in her social debut before the imposing Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel), and the status-hungry Featherings, whose last name is funny and stylish, yet tasteless. mother and daughters have enviably bolder dresses than Bridgerton’s; understand!).
Daphne starts the season in an enviable position, but thanks to a vigorous cock-blocking by her eldest brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), her prospects soon dwindle from an ocean of looks to one persistent wretch with weird lips and wide gums.
Enter Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), whose emotional unavailability, mood swings and astronomical heat make him the catch of the season. Simon rolls his eyes at all the women who throw themselves at him – except for Daphne, who claims she has no desire for him. So they guess, pretending the court will walk away, the ladies will give up, and the eligible men will try to win Daphne away from him.
As neglect experts can assume, their original Platonic partnership progressed as predicted, culminating in marathon raging routines with very little foreplay in bedrooms, on stairs, even at the top of lawns or three.
The Featherings are not so lucky, especially when they are joined by their cousin Marina Thompson (Ruby Barker) and surprise them with a beautiful flower unlike the chubby pumpkin they expected. But Marina is not quite what she seems. The same goes for many of the personalities here, from Anthony, who hides an extremely inappropriate connection to the soprano, to his younger brother Benedict (Luke Thompson), who is lured to the debauched side of the aristocracy.
All major pathways lead to anonymous release, giving spells that peek into the stifling customs of the patriarchal era, where men can roam freely and behave as they please, while for women even the slightest wrong step can lead to ruin. Related debates about the honor and value of marriage occur within each drama, as well as a reversal related to, ahem, bodily fluids – all of which tilts the hat to Austen’s protofeminist, while at the same time taking things to places that would probably knock her unconscious.
The way the directors perform the romantic scenes shown here is also important. To find examples of a woman’s gaze in intimate scenes beyond what “Outlander” depicts on the regular part, take a luxurious look at the end of Episode 5 and the beginning of Episode 6. In adult film terms, this is me mapping how to skip a boring story and get to the merchandise . Again, cinema creates pornographic types of all kinds during the series, of which you will miss very little if you deal with such things.
There are few gems without flaws, even the most beautiful of them. I assume that analysts will soon pass a deeply dubious definition of inclusive casting, as manifested here, and they are not wrong.
While Rhimes and Van Dusen are struggling to break away from the all-white castings that have long been the standard palette of Austen stories, viewers aware of the role that colorism plays in casting will have a few things about the fact that most black characters starring are fair-skinned And ending with Rosheuvel, Parker and Kathryn Drysdale, who is Genevieve Delacroix, a tailor of societies.
Anyone who can say, “But those are four prominent actors!” keep in mind that this is a large, mostly white ensemble, and most non-white characters inhabit a sea of extras and uncontrolled characters in the show. “Bridgerton” in this respect is not a big leap forward for inclusion, but a leap from complete whiteness to a tiny, tiny spot on a nearby tile.
That being said, putting Rosheuvel for Queen Charlotte, the hub of power in this hive, can be interpreted as a hint of better intentions. The real Charlotte is the subject of speculation as to whether she was of Black descent, researched more than a few times before Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry. People who know that story might appreciate choosing the show. People who won’t will surely enjoy Rosheuvel’s stunningly terrifying performance. Everyone who watches will notice that the Queen is a risky shade of beige at best.
Drawing attention to these points is important, whether or not they argue that these problems are beyond the meaning of a fictional historical story mostly given by class instead of race, which is consistent with Regency’s opus. This is also an excuse that is given and heard many times whenever creatives are faced with a homogeneous choice of casting.
Another very valid answer to all this is that maybe one of (more) days (in a series of days, years and decades) we who are tired of witnessing the hollow result of so-called rockless casting may either not watch or maybe choose not to care. (Again.)
For most, “Bridgerton” should be just a fluffy tail in a beastly year. Despite its very real imperfections, no one should bother because it has succumbed to any enjoyment it offers. Look at the same way you can now abandon the combinations of sugars, flours, and fats we currently breathe: eat heartily, love sweets, and preserve your concern for the long-term impact of that inevitable fasting holiday calm down.
All eight episodes of “Bridgerton” are available for streaming on Netflix from December 25th.