By Brianna Bush
Bridgerton took Netflix by storm when making its debut on Christmas day 2020. Since then, the first season – which contains eight hour-long episodes – has broken the streaming services’ viewership record, becoming the biggest show it has ever had.
This show takes us back to the Regency era in England, where the Bridgerton family steps out in pursuit of love. And of course, like many groundbreaking shows, this series is inspired by Julia Quinn’s first novel of the author’s collection series called The Duke and I: Bridgerton.
Bridgerton isn’t your typical flashback to the early 1800s romance series. It features modern-day music in the form of instrumental symphonies by the Vitamin String Quartet including Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next,” Billie Eilish’s “bad guy,” and Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.”
The music is a small detail that connects you to the series that much more, but that’s just the icing on the cake. What makes the show a must-watch is the gossip, the aesthetic, the explicit love scenes, and what every viewer looks for: epic passion.
In the very first episode, fans are first greeted by Lady Whistledown, the voice of Julie Andrews, whose elegant English accent captures our attention within the first few minutes. She plays the narrator and the city’s gossiper, but viewers realize that this anonymous character, who does not seem to take any sort of physical form, has yet to be discovered.
Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, takes the screen as a naive, but intelligent young woman, who is about to learn about the complexities of love. She is sought out by Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel), who with one word of affirmation unequivocally deems her as the most desirable out of all the women.
Ironically, the Duke of Hastings, played by Regé‑Jean Page, enters the picture not as a suitor, but as a rather headstrong man who seems to be looking for anything except love (little does he know that’s what he needs). Here is where we see that the cast of Bridgerton is breathtakingly diverse. Viewers get a chance to see an African American woman play the Queen and an African American man play a Duke.
Daphne is eventually met with the Duke, but their encounter is underwhelming and quite feisty. As Daphne’s desirableness runs out, they collide again. This time they come up with a plan where they both benefit from pretending to be each other’s love interest so that Daphne can appear desirable again and the Duke can fend off women vowing for his attention.
This backfires as they start to realize that the more time they spend “faking” their unlabeled relationship as we 21st-century millennials call it, the more they seem to catch feelings. This ultimately brings them apart, because let’s face it, they are scared.
The beauty of this instance, although this is set in the 1800s, is that somehow you can indeed relate to their unexplained feelings. We try so hard to conceal our feelings and our truth, that we hurt each other in the process.
We eventually see that the Duke has more layers to him than we first might’ve imagined. In a test of their love, he finally reveals that he can’t have children, and being the strong woman that Daphne is, she accepts this fate even though she wanted children ever so dearly.
What makes this series both frustrating and dynamic, is that the Duke lied yet again, but she realizes this only after they marry and when the highs from their honeymoon start to settle. The Duke, to his knowledge, has no reason to believe he cannot have children. Rather,what he left out is that he will not have children as some sort of way to get back at his father who cared more about the continuation of the bloodline than his own son.
Although the intimate love scenes between the Duke and the Dutchess seem to be over-the-top explicit, there is a reason behind them. We see that in these scenes’ the Duke stops himself from impregnating Daphne during intercourse. And because Daphne is so naive to the idea of making babies, this keeps her from knowing the truth sooner.
What I enjoy most about this storyline is that there is always something that keeps you on the edge of your seat. And the story is not just about the Duke and the Duchess of Hastings (even though they are my favorite part of the show), there are more love stories to be told in this series that carry just as much of a message as the glorified couple. And there, I’ll leave it at that because fangirls like me can go on for days about how this show is the best yet. You will just have to go and watch the rest, right before Valentine’s Day of course.