‘Bridgerton’ provides bingeable, cheesy, cheap entertainment



Netflix original series ‘Bridgerton’ takes audiences by surprise with its diversified plot and graphic content.

Nicky Edwards-Levin, Editor-in-Chief

Two characters, dressed in costumes, dance to a string quartet’s cover of Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood,” as various jealous aristocratic patriarchs glower and gossip on the sidelines. Soon it becomes clear: the love the dancers have been faking was, in fact, real all along. In Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” eight hour-long episodes of Regency fantasy, this scene is on the less cheesy end of the show. 

“Bridgerton” provides guilty-pleasure entertainment, based on little more than pretty costumes it took five months to create, Edenic landscapes and an obvious, drawn-out-but-satisfying plot progression.

The show follows Daphne, the eldest daughter of the rich and powerful Bridgerton family, through her entrance into high society, and just about every imaginable costume-drama trope makes its appearance: two men duel for a woman, a family has its fortune gambled away, characters fall in love with people from whom they are forbidden. Beyond Daphne’s quest for a husband, countless B and C (and Z) plotlines make up the episode. These yarns are spun for the audience by Lady Whistledown (think “Gossip Girl,” but Julie Andrews) and her endless supply of snappy bon mots.

The show takes place in a strikingly racially diverse England, where many of the main characters, including the queen herself, are Black. This version of history is deeply refreshing to see in a costume drama, a genre that is so often monoracial, dominated by the racially homogenous  “Downton Abbey” and “Pride and Prejudice”. This progressive aspect of the show presents a sort of escapism. In setting the show in this way, the viewer does not need to consider any of the countless problems present in 1813 Britain, from racism to class disputes to colonization. 

The show also has an unmistakable — and depending on your comfort level, uncomfortable — amount of sex.  Shonda Rhimes, the TV production icon responsible for goliaths such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” was given full control over the adaptation of the “Bridgerton” novels. Ms. Rhimes is known for her shows’ steamy scenes and “Bridgerton” is no different: just 15 minutes into the show the audience learns what it’s in for. Only one episode, the second, does not have a relatively graphic sex scene. The show does sometimes use sex as a way to illustrate power — not just men exhibiting power over women (although that, too), but largely women taking control of their own sexual relationships and using it to their advantage. However, many of the scenes are totally lacking any sort of subtlety and come off as nothing more than movie/TV stars undressing for the audience’s entertainment.

Ultimately, “Bridgerton” is an entertaining but unmistakably shallow show that provides a solid binge-day’s worth of entertainment. Be warned about watching with parents, though. It might get awkward.