Bridgerton review: Austen has nothing to worry about
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
If you have Netflix, chances are you will have watched (or at least heard of) the new obsession – Bridgerton. It was so popular it's been annouced this week that it's already been given the green light for a second series.
I’m an Austen superfan so I went at this with caution and I did think it looked a bit twee to begin with if I'm honest, but within the first 20 minutes I was hooked. Fast forward four days and I'd got through the whole series with my housemate.
Bridgerton based on the first book of the series from bestselling author Julia Quinn – also an Austen superfan. It has hints of Austen, Downton Abbey, and Gossip Girl.
I won’t lie - it is a long way away from Austen and Mr Darcy's famous lake scene has nothing to worry about. If anything, it reminded me of another Netflix hit set very much in the present day – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Both of these stories are centred around a couple that pretend to be in a relationship and end up actually falling for each other (bet you never saw that coming). Despite these similarities and the fact it is full to the brim with cliches, I did love it.
Released on Christmas day, I think it's a perfect example of escapism that we all needed. Pretty dresses and people worrying about marriage for eight episodes is the easy-to-watch content I was looking for during limbo week.
Set in 1813 Regency London, the series focuses on two families – the Bridgertons and the Featheringtons. Both are trying to marry off their daughters and generally keen to make a name for themselves in the city. Throw in a Gossip Girl style voiceover of Julie Andrews as ‘Lady Whistledown’ and boom – plenty of drama to keep us all hooked from beginning to end.
The series doesn’t shy away from graphic scenes either. WARNING = if you’re watching this with your parents maybe watch episode six in different rooms. We are even presented with a sudden rape scene. However, I do feel the scene happens and then everything moves on very quickly, causing a lot of people to fail to notice it as rape at all.
Usually rape is presented as person A forcing person B to have sex and more often that not person A is a man. In this case both parties are already having sex consensually and it is how the climax is presented that causes the whole thing to tip into the category of rape.
It is a different representation of rape, and something that I think makes audiences questions the often-grey areas around the topic. Another series the tackles these grey area is the BBC’s I May Destroy You, a series I have also written about here.
Aside from that scene I would say it is very easy to watch - it features likeable characters and an impressive cast mixed with familiar faces and fresh talent.
Lucy Mangan wrote for The Guardian that Bridgerton has a moreish quality that Downton Abbey never really had, and I couldn’t agree more. I love a period drama and Downton is easily one of the best, but could I binge watch that four hours? No.
Lucy said, “This is not a feeling I ever had about Downton, so maybe Bridgerton is…better? Or – I am now worse?”
I wouldn’t say Bridgerton is better, I’d just say they meet different needs. Downton takes itself more seriously and Bridgerton embraces the cliches in full force. I don’t feel ‘worse’ for enjoying Bridgerton but I'd never put it in the same ballpark as the Austen classic (and my personal favourite) Pride and Prejudice. One thing though…whilst I’d happily watch Downton with my parents I think I’m very glad I’d moved out in time of Bridgerton’s release.
*I do not own any of the images used in this blog post*