If Jane Austen and Gossip Girl had a tv baby, Bridgerton would be it. Set in 1813 it is debutant season and the young ladies of high society are being trotted out among the masses with the sole aim of finding a husband. A suitable match is imperative to avoid becoming a dreaded ‘spinster' and expectations are high, as are their dowries.
Chief amongst the eligible ladies is Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), daughter to the Viscount and one who is destined for great things. However, with her father now passed it is up to her oldest brother Anthony to broker any proposals of marriage. But despite the approval of the Queen, none are forthcoming so Daphne's future is looking rather bleak. That is until the Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), enters the picture.
A sworn bachelor who survived a very difficult childhood, Hastings has no desire to marry whatsoever. However, he is willing to help Daphne by pretending to court (date) her. That way people will leave him alone and Daphne will look like an even more impressive marriage prospect. Of course, things don't necessarily go to plan when the two actually start to have feelings for each other.
All the while, a daily gossip newsletter is being circulated by the unknown and elusive Mrs Whistledown. Seemingly the eyes and ears of all the goings-on, nothing escapes her attention or her wrath. With her ability to sway public opinion and cause mahem and intrigue, everybody must up their game for fear of being named in her column.
Of course there is sooooooo much more to Bridgerton than just a few girls being trotted out for marriage. There are layers and layers and subplots and siblings and rivalries and desperate cons at play, all of which make for a completely binge-able show. Adding to it rather brilliantly is the narration from Mrs Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews) who ties all of the story strands together.
But dear readers, there is a small caveat to Bridgerton before you settle in for all eight episodes.
Spoilers for the complainers: This is not factual. Bridgerton is not a documentary about life in 1813. It is not Jane Austen, it is Shonda Rhimes. It only borrows from the time it is set in. And yes, the casting is race-blind which we know did not happen in 1813 but I'll say it again: IT. IS. FICTION.
I loved it. Based on the books by Julia Quinn fans will either love the adaptation or not. But I have never read the books so I loved it for its pure escapism, compelling stories, and characters. It is never boring, though there are some surprisingly graphic scenes and with plenty of wit and fun thrown in for good measure, Bridgerton deserves its place at the number 1 spot on Netflix.