“Downton Abbey” meets “Gossip Girl”

Netflix’s new series is full of scandal, drama and romance


Photo courtesy of Imdb

Netflix’s “Bridgerton” takes the audience on a journey to 19th century London as the daughter of a wealthy family and a duke fall in love. *****/5

Dana Summers, News Director

With the recent winter weather that has kept me trapped indoors, I spent my time searching for a new binge-worthy series. Released on December 25, 2020, Netflix’s “Bridgerton” was just what I was looking for. This eight part series, based on the books by Julia Quinn, fully lived up to its recent praise from critics.

The show is a period piece set in high society London during 1813. It follows wealthy households during “the season” — an annual period of social events designed to push young adults towards marriage. The family at the very center of the series is none other than the Bridgertons, consisting of a widowed mother and her eight children. Most closely followed is the oldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) as she enters her first social season in search of a husband.

Both the costumes and sets contributed to make the visual appeal one of the show’s strongest aspects. Although the vibrant colors and extravagant gowns help bring the show to life, they weren’t necessarily a good representation of the period. The writers also ignored historical accuracy in regards to race, as the show exists in a fictional society where skin color did not matter. While this artistic choice has its flaws in representing history, I do appreciate how it allowed for the show to have a more diverse cast.

The story is partially narrated by the voice of the anonymous writer Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews) as she releases scandalous articles about the elite families of London. Daphne becomes a topic of discussion in these articles after Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) predicts her to be the shining star of this year’s season. However, finding a spouse becomes difficult for Daphne when her overprotective brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) sabotages all of her possible suitors.

The supportive roles of the rest of the Bridgerton family were another key factor in the show. Although this season was not focused on them specifically, it was clear that each character was well developed and not just simply thrown in there as extra detail. We are able to get a glimpse into a couple of the other sibling’s lives, such as Anthony, Colin and Eloise, but their issues are not resolved within this first season.

The other major character in the series is Simon Bassett (Rege-Jean Page), referred to more often as The Duke of Hastings. After his father’s death, The Duke returns to London and becomes the talk of the town as all of the young debutantes set their sights on him. Unwilling to marry or have children due to a grudge he holds against his father, he is desperate to seem unavailable. Daphne, who wants to bring more attention to herself to find more suitors, ultimately meets The Duke at a ball. The two come up with a plan to pretend to court with one another in hopes of solving both of their problems. Their plan goes south, however, as the two are pressured into going through with their marriage. 

At this point in the series, I was able to predict the major storyline—a fake relationship slowly turns into the characters actually falling in love. Although this idea is quite cliché, the execution definitely makes up for it. The chemistry between Simon and Daphne comes across as so real and undeniable that it brings the whole show together. The message that ‘love conquers all’ is only further proven when the two go against their original plan and have a child together at the very end of the series.

After watching season one of “Bridgerton,” my final thoughts are mostly positive. Many speculate that the show will have eight seasons to match the eight books in the series, where each follows a different Bridgerton child’s love story. I hope that this is correct, as many of the other characters have lots of potential and unfinished storylines that I would like to see more of.

My only real complaint with this series was with the uncovering of Lady Whistledown’s identity at the very end of the last episode. I felt that this reveal was a bit rushed and unnecessary, and it took away some of the show’s mystery. Regardless, season one of “Bridgerton” was a true masterpiece. It’s combination of suspense, drama and love came together to create one unforgettable story.