scene from Bridgerton on Netflix

Be Still My Beating Heart: A Look at the Period Piece ‘Bridgerton’

Like many of us during the holiday and college winter break season—which was coupled with quarantine season— I was looking for good programs to stream, so I could program off my poor, overworked brain for a little. 

 

I was also a big fan of Downton Abbey so when I saw the trailer for Bridgerton, I knew it would be a winner for my mom and I to watch together. My dad reluctantly watched with us… but I think he secretly enjoyed it also. 

 

This article will be broken into two parts.

 

1. My favorite parts and takeaways (no spoilers detected)

2. An abbreviated plot review (plot will be discussed… so SPOILERS)

 

Part One

 

1. A sense of escapism— Settling in to watch this show allowed me to depart from the world and all its problems for an hourish at a time. I won’t lie to you and say I didn’t try to mimic the accents for a while. The success of this show, in my opinion, is in part due to the fascination I think many Americans have with nobility and royals. 

 

2. Hot people—Yes, I am exclusively talking about Regé-Jean Page, aka Simon the Duke of Hastings and Jonathan Bailey, aka Anthony Bridgerton. Every time they appeared on screen, I felt my breath ripped from me, almost like I was wearing a corset like the darling Phoebe Dyvenor, aka Daphne Bridgerton.

 

3. A great score— I thought the introduction of current pop hits into classical arrangements was a cool integration for a period piece. I didn’t think “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift could get any more beautiful until plucked away on violins. 

 

4. Costumes—As mentioned before… although wearing a corset would not be my first desire to attend a regal ball, I’d do it in a heartbeat to twirl in the beaded and taffeta-d gowns in the show. 

 

Part Two

 

I thought the show had a spritely beginning with the narrator played by Lady Whistledown explaining the season of courting that was about to begin. We’re briefly introduced to the eight (yes, 8!) Bridgerton children: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory and Hyacinth. Daphne is on full display as she is expected to find a suitor to marry this season, escorted by Anthony, the man of the house, after the father passes away. 

 

The Bridgerton family is in direct contest for the limelight of the town’s gossip rag written by Lady Whistledown with the Featheringtons— Philipa, Prudence and Penelope, along with their overbearing mother Portia and her husband Archibald.

 

When hunky Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, arrives in town, he and Daphne form a pact. They will court each other so assuming eyes stop watching him and other suitors, besides gross Nigel Berbrooke who does questionable and immoral things to find himself wed to her, find Daphne spoken for, therefore making her more desirable. However, Daphne is not to fall in love with Simon under any circumstances because he cannot give her children. I’ll address that reason a little later.

 

The dazzling pair begins their courting season through various balls and events, garnering the attention of everyone in town. The show picks up steam when at one of these events, the cardinal crime of *gasp* being alone in a garden with a man leaves Daphne appearing to have her good name sullied by Simon. The incident is worsened with the regal mean girl Cressida Cowper having seen it all go down; she’s mad at Daphne for wrecking her chance of pairing up with Prince Frederick of Prussia.

 

Intent to honor the family, Anthony and Simon agree to a duel before daybreak the next morning. With goading of one of her younger brothers, Daphne rushes off on horseback to the scene of the duel and runs in the middle of it, luckily not maintaining any injuries. 

 

She makes up her mind for her, Simon and Anthony by proposing (ha) that her and Simon marry, so they can put the scandal behind them. Simon basically says he’d rather die than do that, so present-day ghosting doesn’t see so bad anymore, but I digress.

 

The two less-than-happy-sort-of-lovers return to town and relay the news of the marriage, which happens quickly to keep the secret under wraps. They also have to go before the Queen and make a declaration of why they want to be wed so early in the season where Simon gives a swoon-worthy impassioned speech about how marriage should be between two best friends, which is how he views Daphne. It’s a small, intimate ceremony, and then they start getting intimate… rapidly. It’s enough to make me blush while recalling it. 

 

And then, the idea that Simon cannot bear children is revisited as one night, Daphne seems determined to put a bun in the oven. He explains he promised his father, who treated him so horribly and refused to recognize him as his due to a speech impediment, would never get the satisfaction of Simon carrying on his name. 

 

It’s not that he couldn’t have children… it’s that he didn’t want to, as he said to his awful dad on his luxurious deathbed. 

 

This becomes a great point of contention in the new marriage because—duh—although I cannot excuse Daphne’s bedroom power play either. The couple starts to live fragmented lives in the estate. 

 

The pair needs to be whisked home to solve family conflict and put on a united front which ultimately brings them closer together.

 

There are obviously other side stories that aid the dynamic storytelling from Julia Quinn’s novels that the show is based on. My favorite is with Eloise as she seeks out independent education over a husband and sleuths around the town to find out who Lady Whistledown is. 

 

I won’t give away the bigger spoilers because I truly think it’s better to watch it for yourself. But if you enjoy a period piece laden with gorgeous gowns, a great modern-turned-classic score and dreamy dudes with horrible sideburns, this show might just be a love-match for you.