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TV Review: 'Bridgerton' - A Deliciously Decadent and Refreshingly Modern Take on Regency Romance

By Joao Nsita

Bridgerton  |  Netflix

Netflix's latest offering, "Bridgerton," is a sumptuous and captivating series that breathes new life into the well-worn genre of Regency-era romance. Produced by Shonda Rhimes' Shondaland, the show is a masterful blend of classic tropes and modern sensibilities, creating a viewing experience that is both familiar and delightfully fresh.

Based on Julia Quinn's bestselling novel series, "Bridgerton" transports viewers to the glittering world of 19th-century England, where the young and beautiful navigate the treacherous waters of high society in search of love and marriage. At the center of this lavish tale is Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), a young woman determined to find a suitable husband and secure her family's future.

From the moment the series begins, it's clear that "Bridgerton" is not your average period drama. The show's diverse casting is a welcome departure from the genre's traditionally homogeneous lineup, with several prominent Black characters taking center stage. This inclusivity is a powerful statement, one that challenges viewers' expectations and adds depth to the show's exploration of power, privilege, and social hierarchy.

The series' visual aesthetic is equally striking, with a color palette that expertly blends the soft pastels of the Regency era with a distinctly modern flair. The costumes are a feast for the eyes, each gown and tailored suit a work of art that captures the opulence and elegance of the time. The show's soundtrack, too, is a delightful surprise, featuring string quartet renditions of contemporary pop hits that add a playful and unexpected twist to the proceedings.

But "Bridgerton" is more than just a pretty face. The show's writing is sharp and witty, with a keen understanding of the complex social dynamics at play in this rarefied world. The dialogue crackles with energy, and the characters are richly drawn, each with their own desires, flaws, and secrets.

At the heart of the series is the romance between Daphne and the brooding Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page). Their relationship is a sizzling slow burn, full of stolen glances, heated exchanges, and a palpable chemistry that threatens to ignite the screen. But what sets "Bridgerton" apart from other period romances is its willingness to explore the more intimate aspects of their relationship, delving into the complexities of desire, consent, and the unequal power dynamics between men and women in this society.

The show's handling of sex and sexuality is refreshingly frank and unapologetic. While other period dramas might fade to black or end with a chaste kiss, Bridgerton acknowledges the reality of human desire and the ways in which it can both complicate and enrich love. The sex scenes are not gratuitous, but rather serve to deepen our understanding of the characters and their relationships.

Beyond the central romance, Bridgerton is a tapestry of interwoven storylines and characters, each with their own compelling arcs. From the ambitious and calculating Lady Featherington (Polly Walker) to the enigmatic and all-knowing Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), the show's supporting cast is a delight, bringing depth and nuance to this glittering world.

The series also grapples with weighty themes, from the suffocating expectations placed on women to the double standards that govern men's and women's behavior. While the show's feminist credentials may not be perfect, it does offer a thought-provoking commentary on the ways in which society constrains and controls women's lives.

Bridgerton  |  Netflix

Bridgerton is not without its flaws. At times, the pacing can feel a bit uneven, and some plot points are resolved a bit too neatly. But these are minor quibbles in the face of the show's many strengths.

In the end, Bridgerton is a triumph of storytelling and style. It's a show that revels in the pleasures of the period romance genre while also subverting and modernizing it in ways that feel fresh and exciting. It's a feast for the senses, a deliciously decadent escape into a world of balls, gowns, and scandalous secrets.

But more than that, "Bridgerton" is a celebration of love in all its forms. It's a reminder that even in a society bound by rigid rules and expectations, the human heart will always find a way to express itself. Whether it's the swooning romance of Daphne and Simon or the fierce loyalty of the Bridgerton family, the show is a testament to the enduring power of human connection.

As we look back on a year that has been marked by isolation, uncertainty, and loss, Bridgerton feels like a much-needed balm for the soul. It's a reminder of the joy and beauty that can be found in even the darkest of times, and a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit.

So pour yourself a cup of tea, settle in, and let yourself be swept away by the magic of Bridgerton."It's a journey worth taking, a sumptuous and satisfying escape into a world where love always finds a way.


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