Photo By: Dawn |Flickr
By Saul De Leon
Bridgerton cleverly subverts your expectation of being a typical romance drama but instead proves to be a witty series that is self-aware of its absurdity. On the surface, it is simply a complex love story of two individuals in the ruling upper-class of 19th century England.
Comprised with the lavish lifestyle, high-end clothing, and pose sarcasm, it gives us everything you come to expect when you think of this era but with a twist. You come to find out that this is only a facade, and the true nature of this narrative is revealed in eight elegantly paced episodes.
Released on Christmas as a Netflix original, Bridgerton has become a worldwide sensation garnering a viewership of 82 million within the first 28 days of its debut. It has become the most watched Netflix original in its history. Its success is not based purely on hype; it’s a show that is worth the investment. When you start, naturally, there is some skepticism because it comes off like your typical rom-com.
Though yes, there are elements of that genre sprinkled throughout the run time, but it isn’t as cheesy as you might think. Bridgerton takes a more modern and mature approach to its source material with moments where characters criticize the society they are in and even their own motivation at times. It strikes this interesting balance of being smart and a little cringy, but you come to respect and appreciate the care that went into developing these characters.
With each episode being roughly over 50 minutes, the series does a great job of taking its time to flesh out its narrative. It gives a fair amount of screen time for not only the main characters but also the supporting ones.
There are a variety of side stories that are intricately woven into the main storyline that are not just there for the sake of it but alter the direction of the plot. This is a brilliant technique the writers used to keep the audience on their toes and engaged in making us wonder how these events will bleed over to our main characters, Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynever) and Simon Bassett (Regé-Jean Page).
For a relatively unknown cast, the chemistry between these actors and actresses is harmonious. They play these roles with such conviction you never find yourself being pulled out of your immersion. Phoebe Dynever gives a phenomenal performance and does not miss a beat. She manages to develop Daphne, a young girl being prepared for an arranged marriage who accepts and appreciates the lifestyle of being in the upper class but is just as critical about it.
She walks the line of wanting to follow the rules of her society to get married and have children but is also willing to break them by insisting on marrying for love and to have a voice in who she marries.
Then you have Simon Basset who is a Duke, and as this society dictates, naturally, he should want to find a partner to produce an heir. He, too, is another who walks this line. Basset takes pride in being a Duke. However, he refuses to be with anyone and doesn’t want to have a child, so he can kill off his name, and is just as critical as Daphne of the upper class.
Both Page and Dynever manage to create this fascinating struggle between the two characters. They wrestle with the faults of their social standing and their personal motivations, who are diametrically opposed as people where the audience finds themselves rooting and pulling their hair out for all the twists and turns they experience with these two.
Somehow the Bridgerton cast and crew created a sophisticated parody of The Crown while still maintaining a compelling love story filled with mystery, lure, and humor. By the end, you’re craving for more and with good reason. The series understands the rules it governs by are outrageous, and they make it apparent by its witty dialogue, diverse cast, and comedic moments where they almost break the fourth wall.
There are subtle details like the music in the background in certain scenes that are supposed to be serious, and then you hear “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish being played by an orchestra in the background. The sets and costumes are all over the top with bright colors and lavish ballrooms. You can’t help but giggle by the cleverness of how self-aware they are.
Furthermore, the cinematography throughout the show is stunning, using a balance of practical sets but using CGI in strategic shots to maintain its artistic style. There are sophisticated camera angles, lighting, and editing that helped emphasize and capture the grandiose style of the series.
Overall, Bridgerton is a surprising hit that is well deserving of a second season, which has been officially announced in January.