I am four episodes in and actually enjoying it for what it
is, not for what snobs *think* it should be.
Let me explain…
I have read several of Julia Quinn’s Regency romances set in
the English world she created (there are several parts, and not all of them are
focused on the Bridgerton’s. I enjoyed the Smyth-Smith books and the Rokesby
series as well), but have read only a few of the actual Bridgerton books,
including The Duke and I, the first
in the series. Before watching the first episode of Netflix’s series, I re-read
the book, since I knew from the trailer that something wonky was going on with
the filmed version.
Apparently that something wonky has thrown a LOT of people
into a tizzy worthy of a snooty Regency debutante.
Okay, so the costumes aren’t historically accurate. And the
casting of people of color isn’t historically authentic. And the additional
plot points aren’t in the book.
I know, coming from me, that sounds sacrilegious. But these
are Regency romances. They’re fantasies where the heroine always gets the Rich
Husband and hero always behaves with Honor and they both live Happily Ever
After. And the Netflix series doesn’t mess with that part.
To be honest, I thought the mixed-race casting was going to
bother me. It doesn’t. Not even a little bit. In fact, at one point, I was
watching the queen and thought to myself, “This is actually quite wonderful.
How many little girls of color have never seen themselves in these books
because of, well, history. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to have the same
dreams of going to a ball, of finding a handsome, kind, rich husband?” It made
sense to me.
This series is a fairy tale. A charming, fun, fairy tale,
and it makes no bones about it. From the costume “mistakes” (they are choices,
by the way, not mistakes – and can we say Hamilton? You can’t complain about
the costumes of Bridgerton if you’re
not also going to complain to Lyn Manuel), to the casting of the characters,
the creators of this series are celebrating a glittering world most of us would
love to escape to. And I, for one, am enjoying the escape.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t complement them on one other
point: the lack of opportunity for women during that time period. That point
they’ve kept quite historical. Women were property. So were children. The
creators have dealt with those realities quite forcefully, as did Julia Quinn
in her books. In that, they did not stray. That lack of rights makes for
desperation on the part of the women, a desperation that is a common thread in
Regency romances – and in many people’s real-life lives. I’m glad they have
emphasized the point. It shows how far women have come – and how differently we
treat children today.
Overall, I am enjoying the series. It captures the
light-hearted spirit of Quinn’s books – and yet is dissimilar enough that I can
keep my own version of her characters in my head (something no other
book-to-movie/TV series has done, despite my best efforts to hang onto Claire
Randall Fraser). I give the series a resounding thumbs-up!