What The Hell Is ‘Bridgerton’ (And Why People Are Obsessed With Netflix’s British Dramas)?
Everyone everywhere is talking about Bridgerton. You’ve probably been the victim of a text that reads “Have you watched Bridgerton?” Or noticed your friends and loved ones acting “posh” and peculiar—men and women terrified at the thought of being unchaperoned (or asked if they touch themselves). If you’re like us, those unfamiliar with Julia Quinn’s novels set in the (horny) world of Regency London, then watching Bridgerton is an…interesting experience. At first you’ll wonder why this so-called “drama” feels hilarious. After four episodes, you’ll find yourself properly pronouncing “viscount”: VYE – COUNT (thanks Netflix).
Audiences typically didn’t pay much attention to BBC-related tele in the olden days. We roamed the ill-bred channels we were accustomed to, unaware that we would be gifted shows like The Crown and Peaky Blinders. By the time you’ve finished watching Bridgerton, one thing becomes abundantly clear: we’re obsessed with Netflix’s British Dramas. Maybe this newest escape can offer an answer as to why.
Cover Photo: Netflix
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We adore Julie Andrews.
Julie Andrews made her feature film debut as the titular Brit in Mary Poppins (1965). There’s no denying the impact our affinity for that magical nanny has had on popular culture. Tack on notable performances in The Sound of Music and The Princess Diaries—whenever we see or hear Andrews, we feel safe. No one sounds more proper or distinguished. She is one of Hollywood’s beloved voices—up there with James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Patrick Stewart. In Bridgerton, Andrews voices Lady Whistledown, the town's anonymous gossip columnist who doubles as the show’s narrator. Pride and Prejudice meets Gossip Girl-- an escapist's wet dream.
Period pieces rewrite history.
No British drama is more appealing than the period piece—which is often disgustingly optimistic. The social and cultural aspects of a period drama are never as complicated as present day (especially these days), focusing on the aesthetics rather than struggle. Sure, some issues are thrown in here and there but depictions are fantastical escapism. In the case of Bridgerton (set between 1813 and 1827), the show’s diverse cast has been both praised and condemned. Slavery and oppression were a thing during the Regency era. However, in Bridgerton’s parallel universe, a generation of racism has seemingly ended thanks to the king’s bi-racial union. Thankfully, toxic masculinity is at its finest (or poshest) when two dudes commit to killing each other over a premarital make-out session.
We're all horny AF (and desperate for love).
Let’s talk plainly: quarantine and social distancing killed the casual hookup. We’re all devastatingly horny, which is why we spent 2020 binging shows like Normal People. However, while watching Normal People is the equivalent of an overtly emotional and committed relationship, Bridgerton is a one-night stand. It offers up a lot of impulsive sex. Everyone was so worried about their reputations in the 18th century that no one wanted to get caught having premarital, well, anything. If you’re going to do it, do it; there’s no time for talk. Bridgerton is very much a fluffer, an essential and widely-watched birth control advertisement featuring Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings and master of the pullout method.
We can't resist lavish clothing (or lack thereof).
Wigs, gloves, corsets, bonnets, lace, silk, and leather riding boots, oh my.
We’re always looking for the next James Bond.
Everyone from Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy to Richard Madden and Sam Heughan have been rumored to replace Daniel Craig. If a swoon-worthy Brit appears in a popular Netflix drama, you can guarantee it will set social media ablaze. For example, Regé-Jean Page plays Bridgeton’s leading fuckboy, Simon Basset. Ever since this guy licked a spoon, fans have been backing him as the next James Bond.
We love a scandal.
We love to consume drama, whether it be on the news or in fiction. Nothing does melodrama better than a period piece and Bridgerton takes the cake. Everything revolves around the Bridgerton family: Violet, Dowager Lady Bridgerton and her four sons, Anthony, Benedict, Colin, and Gregory; and her four daughters, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, and Hyacinth. The main storyline follows the eldest Bridgerton daughter, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), as she’s presented at court, enters into the marriage market, befriends a devoted bachelor (Simon), and gets caught making out with said bachelor in the garden (which you’re not supposed to do). On top of that, none of the girls were permitted “the talk.” Anthony digs an opera singer who wants nothing to do with high society, Eloise thinks marriage is ridiculous, Benedict wants to focus on his career, and Colin probably prefers dudes. Mix in the bougie Featheringtons (including Penelope who’s crushing on Colin), the mysterious Marina Thompson, and Lady Whistledown can talk about nothing for hours.
Modern songs are getting classical/instrumental covers.
Period dramas like Peaky Blinders have brilliantly used contemporary music. Bridgerton takes that idea of combining old and new a step further, implementing classical covers of modern songs. This includes tracks like Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” Billie Ellish’s “Bad Guy,” Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams,” Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood,” and Celeste’s “Strange.”
A historic tour is only a click away.
The backdrop of Bridgerton is as appealing as anything else, offering a tour of various estates and parks around England. Street scenes were filmed in Bath and York, Ranger’s House in Greenwich, southeast London, doubles as the Bridgerton House exterior and RAF Halton House in Buckinghamshire as interior, the Hampton Court Palace and Lancaster House make up St. James’s Palace in the series, etc. Like the costumes, swoon-worthy performers, and sex, the locations are glamorous.
Character traits are immortal.
Even though the plot of a period drama takes place in another century, we still relate to its characters. There’s no nostalgia. In reality, cultural traditions and etiquette would overwhelm relatability. However, shows like Bridgerton, which throw characters (not unlike ourselves) in a different century, capitalize on the romantic notion that people are people—things haven’t changed.
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