*Warning: Spoilers Ahead!*
I love period pieces. No, really, I love them. I suppose this love stemmed from my infatuation with classic literature. After reading Pride and Prejudice in middle school, its 2005 movie counterpart made me fall in love with the genre. The historical costumes, classical music, and intense yearning all make these movies and television shows set in the past is so pleasing to me. So naturally, I was very excited when I heard about Netflix’s new period piece drama, Bridgerton.
The show is set in the early 19th century and follows London’s aristocracy through a scandalous social season. It begins with the year’s new debutantes being presented to the Queen, all hoping to make an impression that will aid them in their pursuits to find a husband. For every girl in the show, however, this is not an easy feat. As the show goes through ball after ball, gossip page after gossip page, there were aspects I enjoyed and parts that I didn’t.
One detail that may have only bothered nerds like me was the inaccurate costumes. Now, the show was going for a modernized version of historical dress, and I really enjoyed some of the creative decisions they made. For instance, the flashy and busy fabrics used by the Featherington family — though fabrics like this did not exist at the time — fit their characters perfectly and definitely enhanced the show. However, there were some more glaring issues with the costumes that I simply could not move past.
For one, the villainization of corsets definitely bothered me. There was the stereotypical scene of women trying to lace their corsets as tight as possible — something that would never have been done with Regency-era dresses. Given the straight design of the dresses, you could not see your waistline underneath. Women would have worn an undergarment called a chemise to protect their skin from the corset, and also protect the corset from sweat or oil. The corsets, also known as stays, of this time period were also not heavily lined and were quite comfortable to wear. They were not an evil torture device, as many forms of media paint them to be.
Additionally, some dresses did not flatter the actresses wearing them at all. One of the only plus-size characters in the show did not appear to have her dress made to fit her properly, appearing rather awkward and wrong. In fact, this happened with many of the characters. The trademark empire waistline used in the Regency era is supposed to fall right below the bust, but was often placed too high. However, the overall costuming was done well to fit the tone of the show. Some of the scenes (like the very first scene!) had beautiful dresses that I wish I could wear today.
Another great aspect of the show’s goal to create a modern feel was the soundtrack. They used orchestral covers of modern pop songs throughout the show that made me swoon. My personal favorite was a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” by the artist Duomo. They all invited the viewer into these romantic scenes in such a fresh and new way. There was a sense of familiarity that I think helped to make it a perfect show for those new to the genre. If you’d like to check out all the covers, you can find them here.
I enjoyed every character on the show. Did I necessarily like all of them? No. Yet they were all complex, well-written characters that I could feel myself rooting for or against. Each one played an important role in the plot, and each kept the show interesting. Of course, my favorite characters would have to be Daphne and Simon. Their chemistry was perfect, and I was rooting for their happiness from the beginning. Who wouldn’t want to live in a beautiful estate with the love of their life? How could you not be happy for them? Even though their road to marriage and joy was rocky, it still had the perfect ending. The writers managed to perfectly balance the love between them and the problems that haunted them. They did not simply brush them off, but worked through them to end up with the life they wanted.
Many have also commented on the Gossip Girl-esque inclusion of Lady Whistledown, an anonymous writer whose column discloses gossip about the town’s most prominent individuals. I loved this extra aspect of the show, further dramatizing it and keeping the viewer intrigued by the mystery behind it. Though there is a suggestion as to her identity in the end of the season, I am still not convinced and believe another person is truly behind the scandalous paper.
There is nothing I love more than Regency-era dresses, classical music, and romantic kisses in the rain. This show gave me all of that and more. Weeks after I have finished, I still listen to the soundtrack and think about the characters. Now, the countdown begins until the next season. I cannot wait to see what life brings next to the Duke and Duchess of Hastings, and all those around them.