Bridgerton is a beautiful, but shallow, feast for the eyes

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By Sophie Hutchinson, Third Year, History of Art

Sometimes I get a spiritual feeling deep inside me that I was a wealthy, beautiful, aristocratic debutante in a past life, even though had I been alive during the 1800s, I probably would have been a scullery maid.

Regardless, in my present life I am neither of those things – what I am is stuck at home with my parents, starved of any affection or sliver of romance, in Tier 4 and yet still fearful that Matt Hancock might take it upon himself show up at my door and barricade me in. But praise be, Netflix’s new series Bridgerton has proved the perfect remedy to one’s woes and has provided one with a solid two days of binge-watching and a strange new habit of talking to myself in the Queen’s English.

Courtesy of Netflix

The show consists of eight, hour-long episodes that follow Daphne Bridgerton, a young woman, the most eligible bachelorette of her cohort, entering the marriage market during the Regency period. Whilst she and her siblings navigate life in the uppermost echelons of society, a Gossip Girl-like mystery author, Lady Whistledown watches from the shadows, threatening to expose the dramas in their lives that they would rather keep hidden.

Based on the Bridgerton series of books by Julia Quinn, the highly binge-able series is a feast for the eyes, with a sugary Sophia-Coppola-with-a-VSCO-filter-on colour palette and dreamy displays of opulent fashion. Though set in the 1800s, the series feels modern; the cast is diverse, with Regé-Jean Page playing the main love interest, Simon, Duke of Hastings, and Golda Rosheuvel taking on the role of Queen Charlotte. The soundtrack consists of covers of current pop songs by a string quartet, which may be eye-roll inducing to some viewers, though I have admittedly found myself showering with the violin cover of Thank U, Next blaring out my speaker.

Jonathan Bailey, Ruth Gemmell, Florence Hunt, Luke Thompson, Phoebe Dynevor, Luke Newton, Claudia Jessie, and Will Tilston in Bridgerton (2020) | Courtesy of Liam Daniel / Netflix

However, I have several gripes with the series; firstly, the use of CGI, though used sparingly, is obvious and disconcerting. In most of the riding scenes (horse riding, that is…), the blatant use of green screen is distracting, and the clearly computer-generated scenes of the streets of “London” from above made me do a double-take.

Plus, the show is undeniably sexy and oh-so-romantic, but the way in which some of the sex scenes are shot and written once again left me scratching my head. Most of the sex scenes consist of absolutely zero foreplay, followed by The Duke pumping Daphne for all of ten seconds (there’s often no editing to suggest the act goes on for any longer than we actually see), whilst she lies there apparently loving it, even on her first time.

Sure, The Duke seems to care at least a little bit about Daphne getting her fix, but most of the time he rolls off her, blows his load, and that’s it. For a show whose target audience is adult women in search of a bit of erotic escapism, it may remind female viewers of their past unsatisfactory sexual experiences, rather than their wildest fantasies.

Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton (2020) | Courtesy of Liam Daniel / Netflix

Overall, the series takes a little while to get going but is a fun, satisfying, and stylish watch once it does, and will either help to alleviate lockdown/winter break loneliness or make it ten times worse. Dynevor and Page have great chemistry and are a pleasure to watch, whilst Daphne’s feisty, feminist younger sister Eloise (Claudia Jessie) steals each scene she’s in. I found myself continually watching ‘just one more’ episode, and despite its flaws and clichés, Bridgerton feels like a fresh take on the period romance.

But whatever you do – don’t watch it with your family.

Featured: Liam Daniel, Netflix


What do you think of Bridgerton's steamy take on Regency romance?

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