A Review of Netflix’s “Bridgerton”

Netflix’s new show Bridgerton is a visual dreamland that provides a haven from the gray days of Midwest winters. With everyone homebound and wishing they could escape to a brighter, more cheerful place, Bridgerton is a colorful, fresh, and binge-worthy diversion that has captured the attention of many Chicagoans.
Filled with ravishing soirées, mysterious gardens, glittering gowns, and swoon-worthy dukes, Bridgerton is the progressive, soap-opera version of a classic Jane Austen romance novel. Austen herself would be impressed with all the plot twists and turns, though she might be less approving of the more scandalous scenes that you, umm, don’t want the grandparents in the room to watch.
Narrated by the iconic Julie Andrews, Bridgerton tells the tale of Miss Daphne Bridgerton, played by actress Phoebe Dynevor, a young London debutante living in 1813, searching for a husband. But conflict soon arrives in this competitive marriage market as mother-daughter duos shamelessly sabotage each other to nab the most eligible British bachelors. And the publications of a ruthless gossip-columnist do nothing to quell the storm.
Though the plot sometimes resembles that of a shallow and predictable soap opera (and the ridiculously handsome love interest does nothing to distance the show from that category), the visual beauty of Bridgerton outweighs the occasional cheesy plotline. The costumes were designed by Ellen Mirojnick, who won an Emmy for her costume designs in the movie Behind the Candelabra. Ms. Mirojnick designed 7,500 pieces for Bridgerton, and the protagonist alone has more than 104 costumes, which is quite a lavish wardrobe for an eight-episode show. From the majestic ballrooms to the decked-out-in-more-feathers-and-jewels-than-Marie-Antoinette headdresses, the lively sets and costumes make viewers yearn to be among the characters, wearing the same ballgowns and attending the same dances.
In fact, since the release of Bridgerton on December 25, sales of products similar to those featured in the show have skyrocketed. According to a recent Vogue article, since the show’s release, online searches for corsets have risen 123%, pearl and feather headband searches have risen 49%, and empire-waist dresses—Daphne Bridgerton’s outfit of choice—have increased 93%.
Other notable aspects of the show are the diversity of its cast and the surprisingly progressive storyline given the time period. Many of the main characters are people of color, and the show includes a gay man forced to hide his sexuality from a judgmental social circle. Additionally, Bridgerton addresses both historical and modern feminist issues, from a woman’s marital status to abortion rights. These issues repeatedly come into play as the female characters weigh the importance of finding an eligible husband of acceptable social status against that of finding love.
Bridgerton is definitely not the show to watch if in search of a realistic or intellectual British period drama. But if one is in search of a retreat from the mundane, dreary days in hibernation, the majestic gowns, daring duels, and scandalous romances of Bridgerton are sure to—in true Jane Austen-esque style—bewitch the body and soul.