Even though projected to hit 63 million views during the 4 week period since the premiere, which took place on December 25, 2020, it exceeded everyone’s expectations as on January 27, 2021, it was announced to be Netflix’s most popular original series with the astonishing 82 million household views. We are obviously talking about Netflix’s biggest and latest production ‘Bridgerton’. But why has this series become such a major hit?
Though the plot of this series might be regarded cliché, what cannot be disregarded is the money and resources invested in the production. The series takes place in London, yet the scenes were sometimes shot in completely different locations such as Bath, where the Holburne Museum was adapted as Lady Danbury’s house and No.1 Royal Crescent was the entrance to the Featheringtons’ home. Other shots took place in London in locations such as Ranger’s House in Greenwich which was the Bridgerton family’s residence. Castle Howard in Yorkshire served as the impressive family house of the Duke of Hastings called Clyvedon Castle. These are just some of the locations the scenes were shot on; there are plenty more, all of which cannot fit into this short article.
Another important aspect were the clothes, jewellery and accessories used for the creation of the characters. Even though their historical accuracy may be disputed, what cannot be ignored is the effort and money put into the making of all these creations. The costume designer for the series was Ellen Mirojnick who emphasized the importance of adding modern features to the original Regency-era clothes design. There were around 7,500 pieces of wardrobe created exclusively for the show. The jewellery, the detailing and the accessories were all hand-made. The colours were modern and bold, and each family was assigned a certain colour palette. The Featheringtons are remarkable for their bright and screaming yellowish colours, while the Bridgertons have a very muted pastel-blue colour. The costumes fulfil the overall creation of the characters, making the show very coherent and creating the impression of paying close attention to details.
Different topics and notions are brought up in Bridgerton. Ranging from the notions of feminism and independence brought up by Eloise Bridgerton to the topic of sex, sexuality and ‘sex-education’ brought up by Daphne and Simon whose arc revolves around these topics. The show also revisits history, dismantling barriers between aristocracy and race. What is lacking though, is a broader and better representation of the LGBTQIA+ community within the series. The trailer features a scene with naked men hugging passionately, which might have been a bait for some people to watch the series in the first place. Disappointedly, this arc is not very much followed-up further on in the series and the focus is on straight couples. Some may argue that the show was trying to be convincing in portraying homosexuals as forced to hide with their sexuality in the Regency period, hence the arc of these characters is not so developed, yet, as the series revisits history through featuring many other notions that might have been controversial or unrealistic in the Regency era, the LGBTQIA+ community might have been represented better and the arc of the homosexual characters featured in the show might have been developed further. Yet, all is not lost, as Netflix has already announced the continuation of the ‘Bridgerton’ series, therefore we might hope for more screen-time and better representation for the LGBTQIA+ community.
It must be mentioned that the Bridgerton music is, to say the least, intriguing. Well-known hits such as ‘thank u, next’ or ‘bad guy’ transformed into classical covers performed by the Vitamin String Quartet created a delightful and unexpected musical background to balls and other social events in Bridgerton. This unexpected crossover of modern music with a Regency-era romance drama links the past with the present, hence being very appealing to the contemporary audience.
Even though the plot is not very ambitious, it certainly is compelling. The overriding intrigue throughout the series, discovering who Lady Whistledown is, seems very similar to the intrigue in Gossip Girl but placed in a completely different time period. The viewers are encouraged to guess who the mystery character is. Besides, the plot mainly revolves around romantic relationships of different characters. For some, it may seem like a cheesy teen drama, yet who doesn’t love some pleasure, even if it’s guilty.
Summing up, the success of Bridgerton was achieved due to the splendour and magnificence of clothes and locations. Mixing the old with the new makes the show more relevant and intriguing for the contemporary audience. Even though the plot seems cheesy and mainly focuses on romance and love, the Whisledown mystery makes it quite compelling. The viewers are already impatiently waiting for the continuation of the show which has already been announced and the bar for Season 2 is set really high due to the enormous success of Season 1.