“This ain’t your mamma’s period drama!” – Rege’-Jean Page (Simon Bassett)
Romantic period dramas like Poldark and Outlander have legends of loyal (obsessed) fans. Now we have Bridgerton, the sexy, romantic fantasy regency era romance is based on the first book in the series: The Duke and I of the best-selling novels by Julia Quinn. The eight-episode series Bridgerton is Netflix’s blockbuster hit of the season.
It is the first (no doubt of many) projects created by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder) in her multi-million dollar deal with Netflix. And with eight books in the Bridgerton series, how can we doubt there will be more in this series.
Why is everyone talking about Bridgerton?
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Bridgeton contains nudity, sexual situations, smoking, language, and violence
Released on Christmas Day to an international audience, Bridgerton has more than 63 million viewers, making it the 5th most-watched series on Netflix in more than 75 countries. In fact, Bridgerton is in the Top 10, if not the number 1 spot in 190 countries!
A Great Story and a Cast of Complex Characters
Bridgerton stars a diverse cast of British actors, including the legend Julie Andrews (as the voice of Lady Whisledown), Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page (Roots, Sylvie’s Love), and Nicola Coughlan (Derry Girls).
The series follows the romantic adventures of the Bridgerton family’s eight siblings, named alphabetically. This fact according to the infamous Lady Whistledown is ‘orderliness to the point of banality‘.
Lady Whistledown is the writer of an 18th-century version of the National Enquirer or the Daily Mail. Unlike the other gossip pages of the day who leave vague hints about local scandals, the sassy Whistledown names names.
Her opinions, proclamations, and innuendo are the driving motivation behind London’s high society’s ‘keeping up with the Jones‘ attitude. You must have bigger, better parties, lavish dinners, and the most beautiful gowns in London to impress Lady Whistledown. But who is this vicious mystery writer?
Daphne: A Diamond of the First Water
And so it goes with Daphne Bridgerton. This royal proclamation puts her on the top of the season’s new crop of young ladies in the search of a husband. But Daphne doesn’t want just any husband. She wants to find a love match, like the one her mother and father had.
Not a hideous old man like Lord Benbrook, or any of the other simple-minded men her mother and brother have chosen for her.
During a chance meeting with the tall, dark, and incredibly handsome Duke of Hastings [more about him later], the two concoct a devious plan of a fake courtship that will keep away the mothers seeking husbands for their daughters from the Duke and attract more suitor for Daphne. Because we all know that men want what they think they cannot have.
The Bridgerton Family
Lady Violet is the head of the large, boisterous, and close-knit Bridgerton family after the death of her beloved husband.
Anthony, the Viscount (Jonathan Bailey), the eldest son is too busy chasing opera singers to truly take anything but a passing interest in being the head of the family. (You’ll recognize Sabrina Bartlett who plays Siena, the opera singer from her role as Keren in Poldark)
The Bridgertons Brothers
Benedict, played by Luke Thompson, the second son is a wanna-be artist who doesn’t really know what he wants in life. Next is Colin, the flirtatious world traveler. These three handsome Bridgerton boys are the most sought after bachelors of the season. Ten-year-old Gregory has a few years to go before he starts courting.
..and then, there’s Eloise
My favorite Bridgerton is Eloise, played by Claudia Jessie. Eloise is smart, spirited with an independent streak a mile wide. She would rather attend university than attend a ball. Her friendship with Penelope Featherington is funny, sweet, and endearing.
Following, in alphabetical order, of course, are the younger Bridgertons: Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth.
Across the street of the fashionable Mayfair neighborhood, live the Featherington family. Portia Featherington (Polly Walker) and her feckless husband have three daughters of marrying age. Prudence, Phillipa, and Penelope.
That can be an expensive situation for a social-climbing woman with terrible taste in fashion like Portia. Three dowries, three trousseaus, and oh so many trips to the modiste( dressmaker) for what have to be the ugliest dresses in London. Seriously, I think Madame Delacroix is passing off last year’s discontinued fabric on poor Lasy Featherington.
For Portia Featherington desperate times call for desperate measures. In this case, it comes with the arrival of a beautiful distant cousin, in the person of Marina Thompson (Ruby Baker). Leaving Portia’s nerves are completely frazzled.
…and our dear Penelope
Prudence, Phillipa, and their mother Portia are tall, thin, and not necessarily unattractive, but they are also snippy, mean, and not very bright. But the youngest daughter, Penelope Featherington, played by Nicola Coughlan (Derry Girls) is short, voluptuous, sweet, and smarter than she lets on. Penelope and her childhood friend, Eloise Bridgerton provide some of the most delightful moments in the series.
No period drama of this type would be complete without a no-nonsense older woman. She is a matchmaker extraordinaire and is always ready to hear the latest gossip from Lady Whistledown. Her hard and bristly outer shell covers over a kind heart and years of wisdom.
In Bridgerton that woman is the elegant, Lady Danbury, played by British actress Adjoa Andoh.
Lady Danbury has known Simon Bassett since childhood. Their special relationship allows her the freedom to speak her mind freely, even on matters of the heart.
Simon Bassett, The Duke of Hastings
Saving the best for last…
Simon Bassett, the tall, dark and handsome Duke of Hasting is played by (be still my heart) Rege’-Jean Page. Oxford and Eton educated, handsome, and well-traveled. He is the most desirable and eligible man in London.
Simon Bassett, the only child of the late Duke is a solitary man. After his mother dies in childbirth Simon has a difficult, complicated relationship with his father, which contributes to his determination to remain a childless bachelor.
I have only recently started reading the Bridgerton novels, so maybe someone can tell if they delve into Simon past, beyond what is covered in The Duke and I.
I’d love to know more about his adventures, his world travels, his loves, and where he got that gorgeous tapestry robe and the jeweled broach. Did he buy them at a market in Marakesh or were they a gift from a long lost love? A remembrance from his mother? I need answers!
More About Bridgeton…
- Diverse Casting and the Real Queen Charlotte (Coming Soon)
- Historically Accurate Costumes vs. Romantic Fantasy (Coming Soon)