The creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder” has done it again, producing another hit show. At the end of 2020, Shonda Rhimes gave us a glimpse of romance while being stuck at home with the new hit Netflix drama, “Bridgerton.”
Based on Julia Quinn’s novel, “The Duke and I,” “Bridgerton” takes place in the United Kingdom during the social season of the 19th century. It gives us a look into the kind of romance most of us long for and depicts a society free of racism — a reality we too, are currently striving for.
This alternative world portrays people of color as royalty, which is unfortunately an uncommon theme in entertainment today. The show also features an epic love story between Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, and Simon, the Duke of Hastings, who is played by Regé-Jean Page.
“Bridgerton” can be best described as “Gossip Girl” meets “Downton Abbey,” with people of color playing major characters. The diversity of casting in a story that we have seen before, but not quite this way, is essentially what is attracting viewers and keeping them coming for more.
One of the most captivating moments while watching “Bridgerton” are those where women are notably highlighted as key figures. The women are portrayed as having passionate identities and being strong enough to fight for what they believe in and protect those they love. The main heroine, Daphne, strongly believes in a happy marriage and the foundations of a family where she not only has a husband, but a friend in the man she hopes to spend her life with.
Daphne’s sister Eloise Bridgerton, played by Claudia Jessie, another prominent figure as well as Daphne’s antithesis, believes there is more to life than being the common housewife. Eloise has status but dreads the idea of marriage. Her character embodies women empowerment, as she believes in equal opportunities and gender equality.
A character far different from the rest, Eloise is fearless, full of curiosity and wishes nothing more than to be as courageous as Lady Whistledown, a quick-witted, anonymous narrator who extravagantly exposes everyone’s secrets in a weekly newsletter. With each revelation, it unveils a society that is coated with lies and deceit.
There are also several women who are ignored due to social status and professions. Siena Rosso, played by Sabrina Bartlett, is a great example, as she is an opera singer who is also a monogamous prostitute. Siena lives her life to the best of her ability and has no care for what others around her think. This is similar to Madame Delacroix, played by Kathryn Drysdale, who is the town’s dressmaker.
Both women hold incredible abilities: one in singing and the other in fashion. However, society only holds women to high regards based on their social class and on their acceptance of Queen Charlotte, played by Golda Rosheuvel, a rather dashing monarch of authority and wit that every family wishes to please.
Even though the show gave viewers glimpses of minor characters, I wished to see more of Siena and Madame Delacroix as they represent strong, independent women who choose to focus on themselves rather than societal norms.
The idea of having a main character in a typical period piece drama who strictly focuses on true love and marriage can come across as overrated. Given that we live in the 21st century, I want to see a young woman who rebels against typical norms, something Disney princesses do not show us.
The drama focuses on topics we do not discuss often: self-identity and sex. Throughout the series, you get to see characters who slowly discover who they are, both sexually and socially. These viewers are able to connect to such moments because it reminds many that there is nothing wrong with being unsure of who you are. Not only that, despite there being a plentitude of it, it shows viewers that love is more than just sex.
While I still would not watch episode six with a parent, the love and obvious chemistry between Daphne and Simon radiate through all eight episodes, showcasing that romance can also be fun and adventurous. The duo brings viewers a little dash of hope in love.
What also makes “Bridgerton” a must-watch show is the ease at which it draws in its viewers to its transformative and controversial time period. Luckily for fans, Netflix has announced a second season of “Bridgerton,” set to focus on Daphne’s brother, Anthony Bridgerton, and the second novel in Quinn’s series where each book follows the different stories of all eight siblings.
From the varying perspectives of women to the suspense built around a character thriving from their secrets, “Bridgerton” is a drama like no other. Its romance, plot twists and inclusive cast separates it from all others on Netflix and is indeed a binge-worthy experience.