An apt description of the series – a combination of stories from author Jane Austen and Nora Roberts. Set in London during the Regency of late Georgian period circa 1800s, it showcases the vultures of mothers trying to marry off their daughters to respectable eligible bachelors who can provide them for life. The series centres on the Bridgerton family, a brood with 8 siblings with the eldest to youngest in alphabetical order.
The series introduces almost all the siblings with their nuances but season 1 focuses on Daphne, the eldest daughter who is coming out into the debutante season for the first time. The excitement is palpable in the family, especially for Violet, their ever kind & loving mother eager to find the best match for her daughter. Added with Lady Whistledown’s commentary on latest gossips of the season, the London matching scenes seems to be the one and only thing that matters in the society and kingdom!
When Daphne is described as “The Incomparable” of the season, the family is elated. Somehow, the pursuers do not come in droves especially after her eldest brother, Anthony decides that most of the pursuers are not suitable. In her desperation, Daphne strikes a deal with the Duke of Hastings, Simon (who looks delectable as the cold duke) to pretend to be her pursuers so that others will be interested.
The situation turns a little difficult as Daphne finds herself enjoying the times she spends with Simon, and eventually really falling in love with him. The same is true for Simon, although he has taken a vow not to marry nor continue his lineage due to his hatred for his father. The couple journeys through difficulties and misunderstandings, but eventually made it through.
The original Bridgerton is written by Julia Quinn with a total of 8 volumes – each book depicting a Bridgerton’s journey in love. I have never been a fan of Julia Quinn, but I am quite taken with the series as the series is actually witty (especially with Lady Whistledown’s dry humour, written ever so condescendingly), the costumes, the pace, the over-the-top reactions of the mothers, the beautiful costumes (I wonder whether babydoll dresses will come back in fashion), the delightful English gardens etc.
The character development is a little lacking, but the leads are great eye candies. Phoebe Dynevor looks exquisite as the English rose, with a little delicacy of a Jane Austen’s female lead. It is quite refreshing for them to take a slight change in real history with no racial differentiation. Rege-Jean Page as Simon is great-looking. Frankly the premise of the romance is pushing it a little, although the attractions the couple feels is easier to explain. Simon’s obstinate insistence not to wed & continue the lineage is a little immature, and is not compelling enough a reason for his actions.
The Bridgerton brothers – Anthony, Benedict & Colin are introduced as dutiful, artistic & amiable respectively. Each brother seems to have their own demon to extinguish. Colin’s infatuation with Marina Thompson results in a proposal without realising that Marina is already with someone’s child. When Lady Whistledown pops the news in the daily gossip papers, he is devastated and decides to travel to mend his heart.
Eloise’s character is one that I like, lively & head-strong, with a flaw of talking too much. Her friendship with Penelope is one of shared passion to strike out on their own, no matter how difficult that is for a female in the early 19th century. Penelope’s character is also one which is naïve but kind-hearted, often being sidelined and unable to requests for what she really wants. Subsequently, I read one of the books (Eloise’s journey) but these do not have the same effect as the series. The book is quite monotonous, lacking in wit & development. My conclusion – the series is way better.
The soundtrack is by Vitamin String Quartet, reasonable but most tracks are forgettable.
With 10 episodes of 1 hour each, the series is quite fast-paced, only if you like romantic escapades. Season 1 performs well & caught many by surprise with the enchanting charm of the English world of high society. Be on the lookout for the ultimate unmasking of Lady Whistledown, totally blew me away! Was told there were hints & giveaways in the series as it progresses, take a guess!