There is much to say, much to love and much to raise your brows when we’re talking Netflix’s “Bridgerton.” You may not need an introduction to this show; it seems to have taken the online world by storm.
Nevertheless, I might as well give you one. As the first show emerging from Shonda Rhimes’s mega-deal with Netflix, the mere background information of this show precedes it. While I have little experience with “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Scandal,” just hearing about a Rhimes’s production fills me with excitement and hope for some exciting, female-centric TV. To make prospects even better, “Bridgerton” brings Julia Quinn’s romance novel series to your glittering at-home screens, depicting Daphne Bridgerton, the Duke of Hastings, her large, alphabetically named family and many, many more during the illustrious season of courtships in high society.
All-in-all, I came away from this show (which I admit to finishing in three days) feeling merry, light and wanting to live in Regency-era London, attending balls and fearing gossip-columnists. Simply put, it was pure fun to live within the “Bridgerton” world for a few (hours long) moments. Especially as I watched this show at the turn of 2020 to a new year, it was a lovely respite from the heaviness of our recent times. The dresses were ravishing, the people were beautiful, the characters were lively and the problems were distant, with just a touch of absurdity and low-stakes. “Bridgerton” was an overall blissful experience of escapism and trivial sincerity.
I especially appreciate “Bridgerton” for its romance novel roots, a genre that is typically cast aside as “guilty pleasure” reading, as if people should feel ashamed to enjoy reading a romance novel. Coming from a genre which is often ridiculed in the same way that anything largely supported by girls is minimized as frivolous, “Bridgerton” emboldens that perceived frivolity and legitimizes romance as something worthwhile and worthy of Netflix-sized budgets. More than anything, “Bridgerton” allows audiences to simply enjoy the romance, the giddiness and lavishness for what it is.
Beyond this, I also appreciated the distinct female gaze (and many conversations about women’s role and constraints in society) of the show’s production and point of view. As a little warning, the latter half of the show’s episodes contain many brow-raising, rosy-cheeked scenes. Without divulging too much, I salute “Bridgerton” for taking a prominent female perspective throughout the entirety of the show. This female gaze rids of the ever odious objectification of women that we are far too accustomed to in modern television.
Of course, these positive notes do not mean that “Bridgerton” is without its faults. Despite its seemingly colorblind casting, this show attempts to take on the conversation of race but is far from sticking the landing. With its great many characters, character arcs and complicated intertwinings, there leaves little room for a well-developed undertaking of race and diversity. (However, I’ll admit that I didn’t enter the shimmering world of “Bridgerton” with expectations for heavy topics and effective handlings.) Moreover, there is one questionable scene regarding consent in the latter half of the show that I first overlooked because I had skipped through it, being jaded from many the intimate scenes.
This all to say, “Bridgerton” is not a spotless watch. Nevertheless, it is fun, sparkling and gleeful. If romance novels are your jam, if Shonda Rhimes produced your favorite comfort watch, if you love period pieces or if you’re just looking for some lighter, glossy TV, I would recommend “Bridgerton.” If not, well, maybe watch the trailer and decide for yourself.