Bridgerton premiered on Netflix on December 25, 2020 and it is Shonda Rimes’ first series for Netflix. This post contains a few spoilers so proceed at your own risk.
Halfway through the first episode of Bridgerton, I was ready to dismiss it as vacuous fluff; pastel-colored candy floss leaving nothing but a smattering of sticky surfaces in its wake. Historical dramas are my favorite genre, but I need them to have some meat on their bones, something to nourish my heart and mind as I watch each episode. I have not read the book, written by Julian Quinn, on which Bridgerton is based. I did, however, binge the Spanish Princess over Thanksgiving break so, perhaps, I could be forgiven if I was expecting the gritty Catherine of Aragon to ride onto the screen astride a magnificent horse clad in her maternity armor.
I fully intended to set Bridgerton aside but, after reading more glowing commentary from friends on social media, I decided to at least finish the first episode before condemning it to my pit of damnation with the likes of Vikings and The Great.
Eight episodes later, I came up gasping for air (not unlike Simon after his encounter with Daphne on the stairs) and feeling an emotion so foreign to me that I could not immediately name it. After some thought, I realize that Bridgerton made me feel…wait for it…happy. Don’t misunderstand me. I feel happy with regularity. It’s just that the emotion rarely stems from watching television with the exception of Ted Lasso which is another story for another day.
Unable to just be happy, I tried to figure out how Bridgerton had transported me to this place of bliss and I have arrived at a few theories which all revolve around this freaking miserable, intolerable, damned, clusterfuck of a pandemic that we are all still living (except for you New Zealand, you keep doing you). Stay with me and see if you agree.
Blue dominates both wardrobe and sets with the exception of the Featherington’s who have, apparently, taken an oath to wear a dress based on every swatch from the wallpaper catalog at their local home design store. Blue is understood to be a calming color and it is associated with serenity and peace. Those blue drawing rooms and bedrooms, do more than shelter the onscreen characters. They invite each of us to inhale a bit more deeply, and sink a little lower into our comfy chair if only for a few minutes.
I completely dismissed the sets as unrealistic (sparklers? really?) until I chose to, metaphorically speaking, loosen my stays a bit. Perhaps it was the effect of all those blue dresses, swishing along the dance floor? Whatever the reason, I grew to love the atmosphere. Yes, it’s cloyingly sweet with candles and furniture and histamine-inducing with the abundance of flowers but after surviving a year full of ugly I found myself lost in the prettiness of it all. In a year that involved virtually no travel and very few days and nights outside my own home, I let myself get lost for a little while in wisteria and roses and manor houses and blue drawing rooms and I don’t regret it, not for one minute.
In case you haven’t heard, there is some sex in the show. Ok, there is a LOT of sex and it’s the kind of sex that makes you flush and remember why you, yourself, enjoy the act so much. Or maybe that’s just me and maybe it was only a hot flash but you could just watch the show and decide for yourself. I mean, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
In the year of COVID when those of us with kids have needed to be increasingly creative with “business time”, there is something deeply alluring about sex in the library, on a desk, on the stairs, in a gazebo, under bleachers, at a party, on the lawn; anywhere at any time. I think I feel another hot flash coming on.
Family and Friendships
At the heart of this story lies the bonds of family and friendship. The Bridgerton siblings and their lovely mother, Violet, support each other through scandals and hardships. They tease and torment as only siblings can do while Hyacinth and Gregory seemingly chase each other through each scene. So many of us chose not to travel during the holidays and our hearts are still heavy with grief. The Bridgerton’s remind us of the love and warmth that we miss terribly but know will be waiting for us at the other end of this dark tunnel.
At the risk of being maudlin, the friendship of Eloise and Penelope Featherington reminds me of everything that has been lost this year and everything worth hoping for in the next. Their embraces in the midst of tragedy and their commentary on the absurdities of the lives they lead are the kinds of things that I took for granted until this year. I long for the embrace of friends and time spent in their presence talking about nothing and everything and to share a box of therapeutic chocolates. Until life can safely imitate art once more, I will smile each time I see these two faces on the screen and roll my eyes along with them.
That’s a Wrap
Bridgerton is, in fact, candy floss but in the best possible way. It leaves you with a lingering smile and the warmth that comes from having your soul fed. As with all carbs, you’ll be hungry later, but maybe that just means you should start at the beginning again. This time, bring along a damp cloth for those hot flashes and sticky fingers.