‘Bridgerton’ is a diamond of the first water

Gabrielle Abdelmessih, Contributor

“Bridgerton,” Netflix’s diamond of the first water is a “Gossip Girl” meets “Pride and Prejudice” television series produced by Shondaland that has called on more than 82 million households since its Christmas Day debut. 

While “Bridgerton” may have all the charms of a Jane Austen novel, it is also scandalously saucy — enough to strategically plan your bathroom and snack breaks to avoid the embarrassment of watching those types of “scenes” in company saucy. 

Based on the popular book collection “The Bridgerton Series” by  romance author Julia Quinn, the television show follows the Bridgertons, a wealthy, revered and close-knit family living in London in the early 1800s. 

Their sole focus is to have Daphne, the eldest daughter, married by the end of her first debutante season. Royally proclaimed as flawless by the queen herself and a diamond of the first water by Lady Whistledown, Daphne becomes the focus of every eligible suitor on the marriage market. 

Her days are to be filled with promenades and her evenings with balls set to classical renditions of modern-day pop songs until she finds a suitable match. But, her eldest and overbearing brother Anthony strays every suitor away who does not meet his standards of perfection. Soon, Daphne is left with a very limited number of suitors, and even Lady Whistledown questions whether Daphne is really the crown jewel of the season.

Daphne is left in quite the predicament until Simon, the swoon-worthy duke of Hastings, arrives. And when I say swoon-worthy, I mean step to the side, Mr. Darcy. There is a new regency heartthrob in town.

Simon, irked by all of the romantic attention, and Daphne, irked by the lack thereof, plan an elaborate ruse in which they pretend to enter courtship.  

This makes Daphne once-again desirable to high society suitors and allows the marriage-hating duke to avoid accosting debutantes and their pushy families. 

While the show primarily focuses on the relationship between Daphne and the duke, there is also a multitude of other equally compelling plot lines involving members of the Bridgerton clan, the garishly garbed  Featheringtons, an opera singer, boxing entrepreneur, modiste and an imposing queen with a love for matchmaking.

Last but not least, we have Lady Whistledown: an enigmatic writer who spills all the English tea in a  gossip column that has captivated high society in London. Her insightful episode voice-overs, uttered in a bellowing and regal tone, add just the right amount of extra drama. 

Lady Whistledown is voiced by none other than Julie Andrews, which makes it even better. Every royal movie and television show must include the Queen of Genovia. I don’t make the rules. 

A part of what makes this period drama unique is its visible display of diversity. As someone who loves the works of Jane Austen and period dramas, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit excited to see people who look like me bring this story to life. 

However, I expected more complexity surrounding the topic from a show produced by Shondaland. There is a fair amount of well-written dialogue dedicated to discussing the hardships of being a woman of the regency era, which begs the question: Why was race and how it influenced this fictional society brushed under the rug? 

“Bridgerton” is certainly a step in the right direction, but there is a lot about the show that is not perfect. Netflix needs to address its problems with colorism in the Black community, white saviorism and why there is a consistent lack of character development for people of color. This isn’t the only show on their streaming platform with these issues. In upcoming seasons, I think Bridgerton has the potential to address race further and to cast under-represented actors. 

“Bridgerton” also attempts to demonstrate consent in a relationship, but at the same time completely disregards it. I won’t delve into any spoilers, but I think toxicity, dishonesty and violation should never be romanticized. It should be addressed, but in the context of the damage it causes.  

“Bridgerton” offers a binge-worthy form of escapism. Each episode is written like a good chapter in a gripping novel, leaving you wanting more. There are obvious flaws that should have been corrected, but its  attempt at a modernized regency love story filled with dazzling spectacle and cheeky scandal is worth watching. 

Rating: 4/5 stars