By Fiona Lee
Bridgerton is a regency drama like no other. It has taken the world by storm and it is difficult to escape the conversations and excitement around it. The colour, the drama, the music, the utterly gorgeous cast, all of which seem even more extravagant during a bleak and boring lockdown.
Despite the love and applause, there has been talk about whether we should be worried about its apparent disregard to the realities of London life in the 1800’s among the elite. It is a far cry from Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, but that is what makes it so brilliant. The makers of this series were not afraid to be creative with the source material and ended up with something new and fresh that suited modern times, whilst celebrating the old too. Their decisions were not made in ignorance, they were to embellish and aesthetically please its audience. One cannot deny that they succeeded!
The show’s aesthetic is a work of art. One would usually associate a regency drama to be full of dainty, pale attire, with no colour that would remotely offend the eye. Bridgerton ventured away from this, both in its costumes and general aesthetic. It is incredibly pleasing to the eye and even adds a new layer to the personalities of the characters. The Featheringtons’ bright and cheap gowns clearly place them a rung below the Bridgertons, who are consistently regal and glamourous, whilst also remaining traditional and classy. The blaring, violating, white light in the ballrooms contrast with the dark corners where mischief and scandal take place. It adds taste, texture and intrigue to even the quietest of moments. The show is not bound by tradition and thoroughly takes advantage of our high – definition screens that can show off modern colour better than any old story, where colour was redundant.
It is subtle, and not something everyone noticed immediately, but it’s there. Converting pop songs like Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift, and bad guy by Billie Eilish, into classical pieces gives us the opportunity to celebrate the new with the old. We have centuries of music to explore in our lives, yet people are insistent that we break songs into eras and abandon them once a new decade breaks. We should, of course, respect older traditions but drawing inspiration and combining the best of modern music with the best of the traditional is a fabulous celebration of global culture and modern creativity. This is not disrespectful, it is mish – mashing centuries of musical works to make something enjoyable for a modern audience.
The explicit scenes in this series have gathered much talk. Some people love them and get a good thrill out of the tension and pleasure between the couples, whereas others are left utterly uncomfortable and wondering when they can stop averting their eyes. Both reactions are fair; it is not for everyone! However, this is not a Game of Thrones – esque technique just to get people watching. The sex scenes tell a story that needs telling to make the series work; we learn how women are educated and their relationship with sex at that time compared to the very sexually confident men. There is a tale to tell there, and it cannot be told if the shot fades to black every time things get steamy. Daphne’s sexual awakening was momentous, and the way she learned about reproduction was the turning point in her relationship with Simon, first for the worst but ultimately for the better. The first five minutes of the series where we see Anthony and Siena having some fun against a tree set the tone of the show for the audience straight away; this is not a normal regency drama. It does not pretend that no one is having sex. It does not pretend that women do not desire sex, or that they do not somewhat fear it due to a complete lack of education. It does not pretend that attraction does not occur between differing classes, and it does not pretend that homosexual relationships were non – existent at the time. To do such things simply would not suit a modern audience that now celebrates sexual exploration, education, and pleasure.