Bridgerton: Season 1 - all episodes
December 26, 2020 1:18 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

 
I wasn't sure whether to give this thread 'show only' or 'books included' spoiler tagging. I haven't read any of the Bridgerton novels, though I probably will now -- considering this season was filmed pre-pandemic, it's going to be ages before we get a second season, I don't think I want to wait that long to find out who everybody gets paired up with in the course of the series, or who's the mystery inheritor of the Featherington estate (though, what estate at this point, if it's all gone to debt?), but I don't really want to find it out right now from the Fanfare threads. So, maybe we could keep the book-to-show discussion to mainly the events of book 1/season 1?

Anyway, really enjoyed this season, and I hope it inspires Netflix and other networks to dig into the untapped story resource that is Romancelandia. There are so many books and series that would make terrific shows & movies, but it feels like Hollywood has barely scratched the surface.

Not sure what to make of the Lady Whistledown identity reveal of the finale. I mean, the logistics don't make much sense to me. How would a young, unmarried, woman have been able to engage the services of a printer in the first place?
posted by oh yeah! at 1:38 PM on December 26, 2020 [4 favorites]


Just chiming in here that although the sex scenes were refreshingly female-gazy, I think there could have been a little more foreplay, but hey, baby steps.

A+ for male butts, though.

Yeah I'm still not sure about the Lady W reveal; it's definitely out of left field, in that there weren't really any hints so it felt like the writers were cheating.

It wasn't just the lack of bonnets and hats, but often pelisses and coats; those silk gowns were thin, and easy to ruin, you wouldn't go outside without some kind of cover, at the very least in case of rain, in England. I know that period accuracy has been tossed out the window, I just worried about everyone catching cold.

I'm ok with an alt-history that made color not an issue, because then I can assume it also had something to do with the invention of ladies wearing bangs, which SO MANY of them do.
posted by emjaybee at 2:02 PM on December 26, 2020 [4 favorites]


I felt like there were hints about Lady W. For example, the only private revelation in her newsletter (the pregnancy) was something she one of the only a few people who knew. Further, her nickname was a hint.

Apparently the nonconsent stuff with the Duke and Duchess is worse in the books, but it could have been cut entirely and I think the story would have been better for it.

Other than that I liked this.
posted by jeoc at 4:58 PM on December 26, 2020 [2 favorites]


Were upper-class Regency women really that ignorant of sex and procreation? I assumed it was just something they just didn't talk about, but all knew what happened. Condoms and various methods of birth control (as well as abortifacients) were already known and used! I'm fine with Daphne not knowing but the show treated it like none of the women knew and it was weird to me.

I never felt like Daphne and Simon ever particularly loved each other but just totally were hot for the other. Which, hey, fine! But maybe don't get married just because you want to go at it! (You know, beyond the other circumstances.) They looked good together, sure, but I never felt a deep connection between them beyond they were both gorgeous. This was not a love for the ages.

Daphne was kind of a nightmare, honestly. I get she did what she had to do but I never really liked her (but I honestly think that was part of the point). Simon had a better soulful quality. I enjoyed watching Regé-Jean Page in this role. Mostly because Page is beautiful, sure, but I think he brought a lot of depth to the role that works well.

The multi-ethnic casting was fun. There was some odd greenscreen on some of the sets but I also get it.

I also got all the brothers confused. Why do all white men look the same?

I mean, let's be clear: I spent my entire day watching all of this so I clearly did not hate it. It is a lot of gorgeous people in gorgeous clothes. And when there's sex, it's pretty hot. That's sometimes all I want.

(And yeah, I feel like the nonconsensual stuff between Daphne and Simon could've just been solved through TALKING. I really hate plots that depend on people just not saying the truth so it was pretty gross. I'm glad I was spoiled on it and already kind of thought Daphne was bad.)

I love Eloise and I hope if there's a next season (which I assume there will be), it will be about her.
posted by edencosmic at 5:32 PM on December 26, 2020 [3 favorites]



Were upper-class Regency women really that ignorant of sex and procreation


My guess would be that they weren’t but debutantes were. Especially because most would have been cutthroat with each other, and one of them knowing the Forbidden Knowledge could have been used to shame them?

Not sure I love the Lady W reveal, but I do kind of like how the threads are weaving together. Normally romance novels are kind of one at a time and you’re left just wondering how you missed the thing - in this series, they are definitely setting up minor characters so they’re not just totally out of the blue.

They’re also, which I kind of love, making the female characters more nuanced. Even the awful ones! You really get the sense that they have their motivations and are making choices within bad options.
posted by corb at 6:01 PM on December 26, 2020 [2 favorites]


So my wife loves these period type dramas, has seen them and I've learned to enjoy some of them, such as The Spanish Princess and The Great (of course). We tried about TB, and while entertaining fluff, it doesn't feel like it rose to anything great. It was very American, but in a British setting and which was just awkward at times.

But the diverse casting was a delight. If we're gonna indulge in fantasy, why not have racial harmony in a fantastical mix also?

8 episodes was just about perfect, though I'd argue for one less, or at least the lack of mystery about who Lady W was. It seemed fairly obvious, but not much was done to really sell it, so it felt flat and ultimately unnecessary.

When is The Great coming back?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 PM on December 26, 2020


Did I miss any follow-up on what happened to Will? Seems like the gangsters that murdered Featherington would have some issues with him too.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:18 PM on December 26, 2020 [2 favorites]


Ha, I felt like the Lady W reveal was too foreshadowed (or rather laid down thick too early)- there was a point where Eloise is talking about how Lady W would have to be someone overlooked at balls to Penelope, and Penelope gets a look on her face - not to mention the fortuitous announcement of Marina's pregnancy right when all of Penelope's other efforts to stop Marina and Colin getting together have failed.

Regency women generally weren't that ignorant of sex, even upper class ones - that's more of a Victorian thing, IIRC. Daphne's reaction was absolutely horrible (he clearly wanted her to stop, she didn't, ew), but Simon's reason for witholding information was so dumb it made it hard to sympathize with him. It's a credit to the series that I still watched the entire thing even though the reasoning for the difficulties for the main couple were rather lackluster.

Was mostly disappointed that the B brother (Benedict?) was not revealed to be gay. As-is, his plot feels a little too much like the beginning of Anthony's story. And Anthony was just a jerk, so.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:22 PM on December 26, 2020 [6 favorites]


Oh, also, I liked this review in the LA Review of Books that is mostly talking about the choice for diverse casting - including the choice to willfully explain the existence of Black Nobles as alternate history, rather than race blind casting.

I mostly know Adjoa Andoh from her reading of The Raven Tower, but she was so good at that I got excited seeing her name in the credits, and she was indeed fantastic as Lady Danbury.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:26 PM on December 26, 2020 [3 favorites]


Condoms and various methods of birth control (as well as abortifacients) were already known and used!

Fun fact - while abortion was made illegal in England in 1803, that only accounted for abortion after the 'quickening' (usually the first time you feel the fetus move, usually around 15-ish weeks) - which probably was before Marina drank the tea, but after Mrs. Featherington found out Marina was pregnant. Pre-quickening, getting rid of the pregnancy wasn't really considered an issue.

Condoms were used, but they were also reusable, made from sheep's guts, tied on the penis with some string, and had a high failure rate, so. I'd still expect Simon to know about them, and I can't remember if they were technically illegal at this time, but that wouldn't stop a Duke. It was really considered the sort of thing you'd use with your mistress and not your wife, so maybe he considered it dishonorable. Pessaries were definitely a thing, though, but someone would have had to explain that to Daphne, and also for Simon and Daphne to have a conversation about the topic where they imparted useful information to each other.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:03 PM on December 26, 2020 [6 favorites]


I guess the Penelope reveal surprised me because her writing persona is very worldly and sophisticated, but as Penelope she seems naive and awkward. And not that clever. Maybe there is more in the books? I did think she might have a connection and used it to spread Marina's scandal.
posted by emjaybee at 9:07 PM on December 26, 2020


Also, just want to say that that the lengths Simon would go to avoid having kids was astonishingly silly, on both a narrative and human level. Daphne's actions to make him ejacualte in her was almost a sane action in comparison.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:41 AM on December 27, 2020


Something I couldn't quite square is that Simon spoke as if it was a lifelong vow to never have children but he mad the vow to his father on this deathbed. If I understood well his father had died just immediately before Simon arrived in London and so it was a very recent vow.
posted by roolya_boolya at 5:51 AM on December 27, 2020


Simon was there when his dad died, his vow was made to dad right before he died.

Never mind the timing or logic, look at this gorgeous setting and the costumes and hairstyles!

Seriously, I'd kill for some of Simon's jackets.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:58 AM on December 27, 2020 [3 favorites]


I ended up buying book 1 & 2 last night. It seem like there's a longish period of Simon traveling around abroad after his father's death before deciding to return to London, and I think the same is sort of implied in the show -- how long must the steward have been left in charge of the estate that the rent had been raised 3 times despite poor harvests?

I just love how many boxes this checked off of the Regency Romance Bingo Card. Ices at Gunter's, Vauxhall Gardens evening party, presentation to the queen, fake-french-accent modiste, the Baby Epilogue, and on. It's so nice to have a series where the writers/producers embrace the genre and all of its tropes & foibles with gusto rather than trying to class it up for respectability. As far as the non-consent, it definitely could have been handled worse. I only got hooked on the genre in the 2000's, so I've thankfully missed the era of truly rapetastic old-school classics, but even the more recent 1990s back-catalogs of current favorites have some 'yikes' sequences. I've seen some reviews wishing the show had omitted the non-consensual climax altogether, but, I'm not sure what the writing solution would be for that (and, also, that would have omitted the "angst-filled wait for confirmation of pregnancy/non-pregnancy" sequence, which is another square on the Bingo Board).
posted by oh yeah! at 7:09 AM on December 27, 2020 [15 favorites]


I guess the Penelope reveal surprised me because her writing persona is very worldly and sophisticated, but as Penelope she seems naive and awkward. And not that clever. Maybe there is more in the books?

Disclaimer: haven't gotten around to watching the series yet (why am I in this? I dunno, I'm bored and undecided about watching it?), but I read the books and did read something today pointing out that The Duke and I and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (the book that Lady W is originally revealed in) are something like 11 years apart. I assume the show is jumping the gun because there's no point in holding back juicy things these days for fear of cancellation, but 11 years into her secret writing career/being a wallflower spinster, Penelope should be pretty good at what she does at that point.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:26 PM on December 27, 2020


I'm only halfway through this show but the thing I don't get - is Daphne supposed to be a great beauty? Because to me she looks like a knockoff Keira Knightley. Like... she's fine. Congrats to her and her bangs or whatever. Especially when the show relies so much on looks to declare character. The bad suitor guy is Ugly, that's how you can tell he's bad. The Feathery sisters are also Ugly, therefore they are bad. Marina is Angelically Beautiful; she's good. Penelope is Pretty But Fat, so she's good but tragic. Etc.

Anyway, the show is fun but I'd rather smoke cigarettes and make wry commentary with Eloise than deal with the mess of all these eldests trying to get married.

Penelope is nice, she should have more friends.

Lady Danbury is amazing. At first I thought her eyebrows were weird but now I see them as useful tools of expression.

Does the Queen not have anything to do but express opinions about some teens/young adults and their drama?! Go knight someone or train a corgi, geez.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:08 PM on December 27, 2020 [8 favorites]


Well if you were going by standards of the time, Daphne would be thought too thin, for one, and probably would think her mouth too large. But obviously that's not how the show is set up.
posted by emjaybee at 8:51 AM on December 28, 2020


I'm only halfway through this show but the thing I don't get - is Daphne supposed to be a great beauty?

One of the things I think the show and the actress did extremely well is portraying Daphne first as naïve sort of young women, who then grows into some maturity and wisdom.

Lady Danbury is amazing.

I am fully on board for the Lady Danbury Time Travels to Downtown Abbey show, which we all needed after this past year.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:02 AM on December 28, 2020 [4 favorites]


first as naïve sort of young women, who then grows into some maturity and wisdom

That's fine but it doesn't really explain why she is in such high demand as a bride. I guess because she's rich?

This is probably just me not relaxing into a Shonda Rhimes universe. I always have some nitpicky issue like this and I feel like that's just her style and it's not 100% for me.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:23 AM on December 28, 2020


The way I figure it is that she's considered the It Girl for the English upper class/lower nobility for the year's debuts, which statistically has fewer choices than your average high school class's prom queen.

The queen might have also just decided to make an arbitrary announcement, because she loves drama.

It is kind of enjoyable that there is, for once, a more generous allowance for different types of attractiveness for women than men on a TV show.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:30 AM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


If we're gonna get into the weeds about a woman's physical appearance on these here internets, I'm just gonna go hang out The Mandolarian thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:41 AM on December 28, 2020 [16 favorites]


If we're gonna get into the weeds about a woman's physical appearance on these here internets, I'm just gonna go hang out The Mandolarian thread.

Sorry, point taken, I'll drop it after this. Basically my first thought when I saw the preview was that we would never see a nonwhite actress who wasn't a total stunner in a role like that. So it's been bugging me ever since.

But it's time to give it up and focus on my other preoccupation: the Queen's very tall and interesting hair. Her neck must be so strong! She can match her purple wig to her dress!
posted by Emmy Rae at 11:27 AM on December 28, 2020


Im going to have to reread these books. I haven't finished the series yet, but I was sure Anthony married Marina in the books, and I don't recall there being all the baby drama. Also, pregnant girls were banished to the country, not sent off for a Season, so that made no sense.
All the brothers look too much alike, I agree.
Otherwise, it seems okay to me, and I do love the multiracial casting.
posted by Enid Lareg at 12:32 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


I’m waiting for the Frock Flicks review. And I’m surprised it’s not up yet!
posted by clew at 1:11 PM on December 28, 2020


I had fun with it, even though I still couldn't tell the brothers apart. And though I approve of not being totally age-obsessed, I just can't see Penelope or Eloise as teenagers (and indeed both actors are 30+). I enjoyed the costumes, but they didn't do the rather important "Daphne and Simon talk out their issues" scene.
posted by jeather at 4:03 PM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


Penelope is a villain. While I don't hate her character, I submit that she is duplicitous, a liar, and disloyal.

Pen promises Marina that she will not reveal the pregnancy because of the harm that would come to both Marina and Pen's family. Then Pen tries to tell Colin and failing that, uses her power and privilege as Lady W to destroy both Marina and her own family. Pen lies to Eloise by withholding her identity. She is duplicitous when she uses her tears to garner sympathy from Eloise after the reveal.

Lady Featherington spent significant time explaining to Marina the stark reality of being a single woman with a child and no money: poverty. Once that got through to Marina (brought about by Pen's mother deceiving Marina--not easy to see where Pen got her sensibilities since her father was also dishonest, manipulative, and a liar), she did the only sensible thing for a woman in her position: tried to find a provider who wouldn't abuse her and her child or abandon them in the street. But Pen would have preferred that Marina and her child end up on the streets. That's appalling.

Pen's disloyalty is even more astonishing considering that the plan to marry Colin was pushed by Pen's mother. It was either that or a sleazy creep who looked upon Marina as little more than a broodmare. Recall that Marina was willing to wait for Sir George until the forged letter arrived. Marina consistently acted rationally and sensibly given her options.

On the other hand, Pen had many opportunities to tell Colin her feelings but never chooses to do so. This from a woman who is capable of spying on and gathering personal information on the ton, skillfully writing down this information, procuring a printer, convincing said printer to publish the works of an unknown author, and regularly slipping away in the middle of the night to deliver the writings. At this point, the only reasonable conclusion is that her friendship with Marina was also a ruse.

Well-done villainy.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 2:45 AM on December 30, 2020 [8 favorites]


I love this show a lot and I've a strange yearning for some beer and potato chips!
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 2:50 AM on December 30, 2020


Ok well, I unfortunately hated the 2nd half of this show. The main couple is only ever aggressively not speaking to each other, or having sex. Daphne has a total of 2 expressions. I found them really boring. A hot man waggling his eyebrows can only go so far.

The middle brother who wanted to be an artist... and then he wants to follow his dream... oh wow what will it be?? to have sex with the dressmaker. Why. A gay or bi storyline for him would have been a billion times better.

Pen's (great appropriate nickname!!!) jealous turn toward evil was definitely the most interesting. Basically the side stories (mainly the Featherington ones) were the most interesting to me.

I was confused why the prince disappeared. I thought he was there to find a wife - maybe I made that up. When Daphne has her big moment putting Cressida down, I was expecting a comeback along the lines of "Actually, when you're a duchess, I'll be a princess."

Also, I assumed from the Bridgerton names that some children had died in infancy. But then those letters of the alphabet reappeared!

The Queen's hair continued to star. Incorporating a tiara into your wig is amazing. Lady Danbury's married women's den of iniquity was the most fun I had all series. Her hats were fabulous as well.

A moment of appreciation here for Lady Featherington's jewel tones. Beautiful.

My overall impression of the series would be summed up by that clip of Aretha Franklin being asked her opinion of Taylor Swift, where she replies: "Great gowns, beautiful gowns"
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:51 AM on December 30, 2020 [5 favorites]


It was hilarious when the Duke decides to finally manage his estate. The farmers didn't know to rotate their crops without him? But Mr Always In London knows to rotate crops?!? LOL. I laughed at that. It made more sense that they needed his money to buy livestock.

It was entertaining that the hot new cover crop was turnips. Recently in farming the hot new cover crop for vegetable farmers has been radish (although they are not the eating kind).
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:54 AM on December 30, 2020 [4 favorites]


It's forty years after the cutting edge of the four-field system in England, but depending on where the farmers are and some other stuff, root-crop rotation may still be the new method and a matter of academic debate - which happened in London. (It might have required changes in rent and boundaries that depended on a landowner, even. Can't remember about the Bridgerton case particularly.)

On reading-up, the entire English Agricultural Revolution seems to have been imported from the Netherlands, grudgingly. But I remember the paintings of rectangular cows from my high school history book! They didn't mention non-English-speaking contributions! (eyeroll)
posted by clew at 2:00 PM on December 30, 2020 [7 favorites]


The plot reminded me why my Regency Romance Novel phase was very, very short. Ugh. But I did really enjoy the Shonda-acity of the whole production.

Hey, Simon? You don't have to actually keep that vow. Your father won't know. He's dead. You got to do the damage and twist the knife by telling the old man on his deathbed. Mission accomplished.

I narrowed down the identity of Whistledown to the two finalists pretty quickly. I agree that it makes very little sense that a single young society lady of what, sixteen years old, would be able to engage the services of a printer. Also, barely disguised! A hood? In presumably her family's carriage? I mean, you can't just hail a random taxicab.

I am okay with they forgoing bonnets, but not the half-up-half-down hairstyles on anyone except actual children. I also wanted to see some coats over the gowns.
posted by desuetude at 11:54 PM on December 30, 2020 [5 favorites]


Hah, I always thought the same thing about the vow. Dude is dead. What does it matter?

As a childfree person, normally I am bothered by relationships in which the childfree one is forced to have children. But in this case, (a) it's not very reasonable to think that the pullout method is going to always work, and (b) his entire reason for being childfree is sheer spite over a dead guy.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:50 AM on December 31, 2020 [2 favorites]


It would have been more believable if Simon was abstinent, under the belief that he did not want want any child to suffer as he did. Or wounds from a war that new technique/surgery cures.

The whole idea that he's going to have sex and pulling out to prevent having kids, despite liking and being liked by them, is wondrously silly. How does an author even come up with that idea?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:22 AM on December 31, 2020 [1 favorite]


Given Simon's reputation as a rake, we can infer that he's been using the pull out method for years with success. It's not like there were statistically rigorous sex ed pamphlets going around. He's also aligned against duty at the start of the series, the idea that he would have been abstinent or enlisted as a soldier is what's laughable. And he doesn't want to have children because he thinks he'd be a lousy dad. At first he says it's just to spite his father, but then it comes out pretty explicitly that that's a cover for his deep-seated insecurity. Antony knows about Simon's vow to never marry and they haven't seen each other in years, it's not just something he said to wound his dying dad.

The hair down was distracting, even once D is Duchess she's walking around wearing her hair like a girl. No wonder nobody in the household or town respects her. Also, I honestly could have done with fewer Simon and Daphne sex scenes and more emotional conversations. I found the sex scenes repetitive to watch, which is not how I usually feel about sex scenes.

Also, it's a bit whiplash-y how we go from Antony and Simon brawling at the club to chatting politely before the ball. Since we've already seen them duel, this is apparently just how they roll and it's mildly amazing that both of them have survived their friendship this long.

Pen doesn't make a lot of sense. She told her mother that she didn't want to debut that season, but that would have put a real crimp in her being Lady W. And do the Featherington servants just hate the lord and lady so much they drive Pen to the printer at night for funsies? Cressida seems like she would have sniffed out Pen and Lady W pretty quickly, anyway. I like her ruthlessness. I want to see what Cressida uses her connection to the Duchess for.
posted by momus_window at 1:23 PM on December 31, 2020 [3 favorites]


Oh! And the other thing I found incredibly distractingly anachronistic was the birth.

The shift from midwives to physicians for upper-class people happened in the 1800s, but 1813 may be a bit early? (Childbirth was not medicalized for commoners for another hundred years; it was midwives all the way.)

But under no circumstances would a husband be present for the birth, holding his wife's hand. ABSOLUTELY NOT. No way. Zero. I can't even think of a comparison to describe how ludicrous that is.
posted by desuetude at 2:07 PM on December 31, 2020 [7 favorites]


Oh, the draggly day hair, and the lack of bonnets and jackets. And the children at Court! The plots of any society make very little sense if you modernize away the strictures they felt they were living under.

My sweetie looked up boxing rules at the time to verify that gentlemen started boxing largely because someone had invented boxing gloves. Prizefighters did not stay that pretty. And both of us were in agony over the non-dancing music during the dances (am I imagining an ... Avicii song done by a string quartet? That they took the propulsive beat out of although early 18th dance music had a beat?)

But the best bit was the first dance between D and the Duke in cahoots. We’re pretty sure they’re doing the hustle, just with elegant arm-waves in.

There are recognizable period dances in the background sometimes, I would love to read a choreographer’s tell-all of how they decided to do what.
posted by clew at 10:36 PM on December 31, 2020 [3 favorites]


This show reminded me why, even though I adore romance novels and hope for more big budget adaptations of them, I really dislike this particular regency romance genre. Have never been able to enjoy any romances in this genre that aren't Georgette Heyer. I don't know enough about the time period to know about anachronisms, but just the fact that we were expected to care about a central couple who had NO defining characteristics other than being hot and there was no reason for us to think they actually loved each other really put me off. One frank conversation would have put paid to all their 'troubles'. Also, I looked up the books and I get that the middle bro has his own novel with a heterosexual love plot, but it would have been nice to have a main or main-ish character with an LGBTQ love plot. It just seemed all very aggressively heteronormative to me, especially the utterly cringe baby epilogue, which I get is a genre thing, I just find it really icky. Meh. I loved the diverse casting though, very refreshing and lovely.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:18 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


So I just finished the full season and I am so mad at Simon and his selfishness the entire show. His neglects his duties as Duke and his estate tenants suffer. He ruins Daphne’s chances with a prince (and truly any other suitor) by kissing her in public. He ruins Daphne’s happiness by refusing to have kids for no other reason than his dad was a dick? Just - everything was forever about you Simon. If you had thought about Daphne’s happiness for like 2 seconds - the instant the prince was interested in her, you should have left London.

And let me just say Cora from Downton Abbey did a better job as an American being the wife of an Earl than Viola did of raising Daphne from birth (!) to be a titled lady. Daphne seemed like such a babe in the woods when it came to running an estate - shouldn’t she have been training for this since birth? Isn’t that like, literally her entire purpose after getting married/babies in regency England?

Also - Marina is stupid and I am glad she eventually agreed to marry the brother.


People are not acting in their best interest, like at all, and it makes me irrationally angry. And yet -can’t wait for season 2.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 2:46 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


I am so delighted to read everyone's thoughts and so annoyed none of my IRL friends have watched it yet. Entertainingly, while I greatly enjoy excessively-researched Regency romances, I liked the anachronism of Bridgerton, because it made things prettier. I liked the hair, and the lack of bonnets, it was so much eye candy! Austen this was not, nor should it have been. Mostly I wish this could have been an adaptation of Courtney Milan, who is much more my jam than Julia Quinn.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 5:42 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


I haven't read the books, but based on the "who's who" link above, I don't know why the show writers decided to move and change Marina's character to the first season. I really don't think they get how bad it makes Pen look to sell out her friend and family as Lady W for Colin.

The last third did drag while Daphne and Simon figured out their stupid vow/baby conflict. I'd love to know what Simon would have thought if Daphne conceived while he'd been using the withdrawal method. Would he have known it was his? Does anyone know about babies in this series? Certainly not Marina who thought some random kitchen herbs and hot water solves pregnancy.

Despite my gripes there, I did enjoy the series a lot. The initial romance was fun. Simon/Rege-Jean is absurdly charismatic and good looking. Based on reviews, it sounds like the books get better as the series goes on. I hope that's true, because neither Anthony nor Benedict are that compelling from the outset. I like the diverse casting, but I wish that Bridgerton took place in a fully alt-history London where we could get a non-hetero romance that ends happily.
posted by gladly at 7:39 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Certainly not Marina who thought some random kitchen herbs and hot water solves pregnancy.

I mean, juniper/savin, rue, or pennyroyal tea was a time honored abortiofacent/'menstruation regulator' used in that time period, and IIRC, those are the herbs that Marina is taking from the kitchen. It wasn't exactly safe or necessarily effective by today's standards, but people who knew about sex in the 19th century would have suggested the 'random herbs'. (Also, I honestly don't know which one has a higher real world failure rate - pulling out or a sheepskin condom. These weren't trojans, people! Whether or not the condom would stay on is entirely dependent on how good somoene is at tying knots around a dick while horny!)
posted by dinty_moore at 9:12 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


I found the use of the "fake relationship leads to real love" storyline surprisingly refreshing. Of course I have seen it done a number of times, but in this story it gave Daphne and Simon an opportunity to get to know each other as friends. They could relax a little into making fun of some of the romantic traditions they were expected to follow and be goofier because they're not trying to marry this person anyway.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:19 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I mean, juniper/savin, rue, or pennyroyal tea was a time honored abortiofacent/'menstruation regulator' used in that time period, and IIRC, those are the herbs that Marina is taking from the kitchen.

Could you see them? That's what I get for watching on a dark TV. I thought it looked like Marina just wandered into the kitchen and grabbed from the top dozen herbs you'd find in a Victorian kitchen. I wouldn't expect abortifacient herbs to make that list. But, I hated the Marina plot, especially just making that character a demonstration of the unhappy choices women had to make.
posted by gladly at 11:26 AM on January 2


Oh, I was LOOKING and she absolutely did use classic abortifacient herbs/spices. Not probably in strong enough doses and probably too late in her pregnancy, which seems a historically legit naive error on her part.
posted by desuetude at 11:37 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


I hated the Marina plot, especially just making that character a demonstration of the unhappy choices women had to make.

I mean, to each their own, but Marina was probably my favorite character, and the conflict between her and Penelope was definitely my favorite relationship conflict. I liked that Marina wasn't a victim - she was smart and resourceful and stood up to Mrs. Featherington's BS, and while her first impulse was towards kindness to Penelope and holding out for her Sir George, it wasn't to a self-sacrificial end. It's a level of complexity you don't always get in romances, especially out of side characters. She and Penelope were both a little in the right and a little in the wrong, but not in an incredibly stupid way like Simon and Daphne.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:50 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Also, just want to say that that the lengths Simon would go to avoid having kids was astonishingly silly, on both a narrative and human level. Daphne's actions to make him ejacualte in her was almost a sane action in comparison.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:41 AM on December 27


Please someone explain this comment to me because it reads like it's pro-Rape.

In the context of the show Daphne Bridgerton more or less coerces Simon Basset to marry her, despite him saying he doesn't want to get married, and he "can't" have children. She persists, they marry each other and just before they marry they figure out they do Love each other.

They Marry.

Simon is then the most attentive, loving husband. He's show to be generous, caring and gentle regards sex, but because Daphne doesn't know anything about sex, Simon uses the Pull Out Method each time they have intercourse because his desire to never have children is that strong.

On discovering how children are actually made, Daphne straddles Simon during sex and despite him protesting and being visibly distressed will not get off him until he ejaculates inside her.

It happens in episode 6 - and it's very uncomfortable to watch - and that was knowing beforehand what was about to occur.

That. Is. Rape.

Did Simon lie to Daphne about his ability to procreate? Yes? Did that excuse forcibly milking him in a non-consensual act? No.

After the Rape Daphne is shown lying on her back clutching her legs, in a way that is framed to imply she is trying to encourage conception - the ONE thing her otherwise loving and trusting Husband said he expressly did not want. He told her this prior to getting married.

By the end of the series Simon and Daphne are a happy couple, and Simon appears to be a happy new father. No real discussion about the Rape is had.

This has been discussed elsewhere by better writers than I:

Vox: Bridgerton has Rape scene but it's not treated as one

Vanity Fair: How Bridgerton Handles the Book’s Wildly Controversial Scene

In the context of the show Simon has concrete reasons for not wanting to be a parent (having had an abusive father himself, and not knowing his mother because she died in childbirth).

I have a major whiplash when reading / talking about this show when most people (including fanfare) seem to ignore the big elephant in the room of the Main Protagonist raping her partner and either people don't see it as Rape (it definitely is) or are happy to ignore it because ooh pretty Regency Draaaahma.

If the situation were reversed and the Male partner was insisting the Female partner have a child despite expressly not wanting too. I suspect people would focus on the consent issues more.

What Daphne does to Simon is in no way 'sane'. It Is Rape.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:27 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


I have a few thoughts on this series, and they are generally positive, but very random and sometimes trivial.

- Eloise is fabulous, and I can't wait to see more of her next season. Love how Claudia Jessie captured all that wit and sarcasm, with her words, face, and even posture!

- Marina kept reminding me of Terry from "I may destroy you." Even her accent seemed similar (to my American ear). I was way off-- Ruby Barker (Marina) was brought up in Scotland, while Weruche Opia is Nigerian-British and nearly 10 years older. (In my defense, Opia looks pretty youthful!--and certainly wasn't playing a 30-something woman in IMDY.)

- Likewise, Rege-Jean Page as the Duke struck me as SO similar to Timothy Olyphant. Did anyone else see this? The furrowed brow, bemused expression, and lifted eyebrow suit both of them (LOVE).

- The masturbation tutorial was excellent. The Duke's explanation was clear and not-weird (a perfect illustration of how such conversations CAN be handled, contrary to the beliefs of 19th century mamas and, apparently, many present-day mamas as well). His conclusion ("That should get you started") and Daphne's expression of dawning understanding were endearing.

- Not over-the-moon about the Lady Whistledown reveal. But I will say that on rewatching a couple of episodes, I have noticed that Penelope's presence is made clear at several of the incidents on which LW reports. Am going to keep watching to see if there are are any obvious plot holes in this regard!

I want to like Pen but have to wonder along with oh yeah!, "How would a young, unmarried, woman have been able to engage the services of a printer in the first place?"--or get TO the printer on a regular basis, supposedly during all these balls when no one would notice her missing, but when we clearly saw her present? Also have to agree with jojo and the benjamins's summary of Pen's "well-done villainy." She seemed quite kind through the whole series, but putting it all together in the end, she doesn't come off looking great.

- So, after watching Outlander, I had to google far and wide to find an explanation for why Jamie dismounted in that weird and kind of comical-looking way, swinging his right leg over the horse's head instead of over its rump. Apparently it is called the warrior dismount, and it ensures that once on your feet, you are facing the enemy rather than showing them your back. In any case I was delighted to see the Duke dismount in the same way!

- I thought that only women set their caps at men, and therefore that it was a writing mistake when one of the gossiping mamas says "Look who is setting his cap at Miss [somebody]." According to dictionary.com, though, the expression was used for both men and women during the 1700s, and during the 1800s came to be used only about women. Who knew?
posted by torticat at 5:44 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


seem to ignore the big elephant in the room of the Main Protagonist raping her partner and either people don't see it as Rape

As to this, speaking for myself, I simply don't see it as such a big elephant. I think that (as explored in IMDY which I referenced in my last comment) consent can be a messy thing. Fully informed consent is even messier.

Daphne had clearly been consenting to sex without being fully informed for the whole of their marriage. Would she have been having sex with his using the pullout method if she had understood what it signified? Clearly no! Simon said he had thought she knew, but that was at best self-serving and at worst disingenuous. He of all people had reason to know how thoroughly naive she was.

As to his being unwilling in the moment, that was unclear to me. He was smiling broadly, and saying "wait," and he could have rolled away at any time. Daphne definitely seduced him to the point that he couldn't stop himself from orgasming inside her, but come on, that isn't rape. He was FULLY knowledgeable of the potential outcome, and simply lost control of himself.

Now--imposing (possible) parenthood on someone--that's a TERRIBLE thing, and I do think should have been dealt with differently (e.g. with a conversation acknowledging how each had deceived/victimized the other in two different ways). However, I think that's a related but separate issue from rape, which is maybe why people aren't jumping all over this in the way you believe we should.
posted by torticat at 6:11 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Please someone explain this comment to me because it reads like it's pro-Rape.

There was a lot of duplicity going around in this relationship, despite their love of each. Daphne's choice to make him ejaculate in her isn't a great choice, no question.

But it struck me as an understandable one after finding out she's had information withheld from her for all of her life, information that denies one of the things she most wants in the world, a child.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


I think that article is wrong to say there are no echoes of it or that Simon doesn’t distrust Daphne. That’s why he’s leaving her and declaring their marriage broken, because he can’t trust her around him anymore. That’s why their sexual encounter in the house ends the way it does. It’s very clearly hugely on his mind. It doesn’t get resolved with a discussion scene, but I think it’s wrong to say he’s not impacted by it or the repercussions never come up.
posted by corb at 9:14 AM on January 4 [6 favorites]


Daphne had clearly been consenting to sex without being fully informed for the whole of their marriage. Would she have been having sex with his using the pullout method if she had understood what it signified? Clearly no!

I don't think that's accurate. She didn't object to him going down on her even after she has her facts straight and knows it won't result in pregnancy.

I agree with you, corb. They showed the repercussions of her actions pretty clearly. But then everything got wrapped up, without anything that felt to me like a real reckoning. Seems to me the story could have been rewritten to include Simon's struggle with fatherhood without a rape scene and been much more effective for it.
posted by Emmy Rae at 11:56 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


She didn't object to him going down on her even after she has her facts straight and knows it won't result in pregnancy.

That's not what I said, though. I'm not saying she would have rejected any sexual activity that couldn't result in pregnancy! But had she had any understanding of coitus interruptus, she certainly would have rejected that, as the whole reasoning behind it was that Simon could get her pregnant but was choosing not to. Instead she was led (or allowed) by Simon to believe that that was just the normal way people have sex.
posted by torticat at 12:28 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Whether or not Daphne would have consented is immaterial, Simon took away her ability to fully consent by withholding information about sex and misleading her about whether or not he could have children.

Not saying that Daphne raping him was a good solution; they were both horrible to each other and unable to have a conversation to save their lives, which makes them really hard to root for. I understand that it was even worse in the novel, but they could have skipped over that plot point.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:29 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


What Daphne did was clearly horrible -- the show knew it was bad, but not, I think, how bad it was. But I do think that there is (in general, not here) a lack of acknowledgement about how badly she was treated by Simon, who set their entire relationship up based on a lie that he knew was one. She also didn't know he didn't want children because he straight up lied about that.

In the end he had changed his mind about that -- a common reformed rake story in romances, he was not duped into the childbirth epilogue part -- but we missed the conversations where they worked out their (many and big) problems, one of the important parts of any romance novel.
posted by jeather at 5:08 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Fun twitter thread by Mary Robinette Kowal: I know you think the #Bridgerton costumes are over the top. The reality is so, so much...extra. When young ladies were presented at court, they had to wear a court dress. Queen Charlotte still insisted on hoops.

I can see why they went with more generically pretty outfits for the 'presentation to the Queen' sequence, since if Daphne had been in a more period-accurate hoop-skirted monstrosity it would have undercut her getting complimented by Charlotte. But having read so many Mary Balogh books where the rags-to-riches-heroine goes through the whole rigamarole of getting a court dress made by the modiste, learning how to curtsey in it & walk backwards from the Queen without tripping over the train, I was disappointed to miss it. I am hoping we get some more Regency adaptations out of Bridgerton's popularity, aside from more Bridgerton, so, maybe someday I'll see it.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:57 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


I seriously cannot figure out if I actually want to watch this show or not. I read alllllllll this stuff about it and it sounds so incredibly mixed bag.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:34 AM on January 5


It is incredibly mixed-bag. It was almost guaranteed to be at this point, after Romance has been arguing with itself for decades about how it's defined and what it's for and what's okay, and Bridgerton the novels is a series late in this argument so some of how it operates is a genre assumption and not explicitly in the novels, and the video production wanted to be relatable to a bigger audience and put in some new stuff and didn't explain (or flatly contradicted) both genre and historical assumptions.

One of the genre definitions is a Happy Ever After ending caused by the romantic love between the lead couple. One of the genre skills is to show what kind of sadness a romantic pairing can protect you from and how. Some of the ways that have made a lot of sense for real people are intolerable to others -- e.g., that if you are truly loved being raped is somehow OK. I have read heartbreaking defenses of Twilight fandom by married women who take as a given that they have no defense against violent marital rape and need the fantasy of a romantic higher meaning to make their lives tolerable. Most of the romance world decided it could do better than that decades ago. I think current trends depend even more on the couple sharing massive wealth than they used to (and it was always a common fantasy), which is creepy in itself, and is probably a reflection of current social conditions.

On the other hand... some of the Happy Ever Afters happen because the lovers change for the better and are better to everyone, not just each other, and they can change because they are brave enough to do so because they love and are loved. That does seem to me to be about the best people can hope for, and a real achievement to show credibly in fiction. I don't think the Bridgerton novels are the best examples even in current Regency romances, and I haven't gotten to the end of the Netflix series to even have an opinion there.
posted by clew at 12:15 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


A few interesting Bridgerton links:

The Black Ton: From Bridgerton to Love & Hip-Hop - medium link that is in oblique conversation with the excellent LA Times review that dinty moore linked above.

Twitter thread about the rape controversy and Regency sexual politics, using Dr. Cottom's medium piece as a jumping off point:
As a Regency romance produced in the 21st century, Bridgerton asks viewers to inhabit two or more incompatible understandings of sex simultaneously, but it doesn't—and probably can't—ask us to visit a world *free* of coercive sexual relationships and expectations.

The trouble is, the main plot of Bridgerton dives straight into the conflict between these incompatible moral worlds rather than setting it aside. The result is, as they say, deeply "problematic."

In the show's unstable dual moral universe, the key act in question may be an act of assault, an act of *resistance* to ongoing assault, or both at the same time, depending on where you decide to place your moral feet.
posted by gladly at 2:13 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Chiming in to say that I have now read the first Bridgerton novel and regretted it. If you liked the show because it's different, the casting is diverse and the visuals are eyepopping then maybe don't read the book, because none of that is reflected in the book?

It's just mediocre whitebread regency romance paired with ridiculous armchair psychology.

The rape scene is undeniably worse in the book. Daphne takes advantage of Simon's inebriation to physically prevent him from pulling out. It's really horrible and Simon says later that while he didn't exactly like it, it wasn't his real reason for leaving, so it's okay I guess?

(Simon, by the way, is a prick who mansplains Daphne's eye color to her, whereupon she is delighted to learn that she has been wrong about her own eye color her entire life. This is romantic.)

Anyway, happy to answer any question that can be answered by source material.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:00 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


I recommend Courtney Milan if you're looking for some diversity (racial and economic) in your Regency romance. Her contemporary romances are terrific too, and she's got a great twitter feed.
posted by oh yeah! at 3:19 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to remember what Ta-Nehisi Coates said about a conversation with his wife about why she read romances. She said something about their approaches to the... constrained life? trapped life? of women and why women still find that relevant, and he re-read ?Pride and Prejudice? and got a lot more out of it, and I thought he was a *lot* better at considering women's points of view after he mentioned that than before. (This is a follow-on to links from gladly and dinty moore.)
posted by clew at 4:14 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


I feel like Beverly Jenkins should get a shout out if we're talking about actually diverse regency romance books, but also I really liked Alyssa Cole's Loyal League books, which take place during the civil war.

CL Polk's The Midnight Bargain has come up a couple of times in 'what to read after watching Bridgerton' - it's technically not a regency romance, but takes place in a very regency-flavored fantasy world. I'm thinking of doing a fanfare thread for it - it's not that I think it's a particularily well done romance, but it does portray the dilemma of being a heterosexual woman who wants romance but doesn't want to sign up for patriarchy extremely well (the one place I could find people talking about it online were bemoaning that the book wasn't queer, which seems like it was missing the point).

I don't know if I'd even consider the Bridgerton Books a reflection of the romance genre as it currently stands anymore - The Duke and I came out 21 years ago, and when it comes to what makes a romantic hero desirable and consent, the genre has changed a lot in the last decade (even Courtney Milan's early stuff feels questionable now).

Anyway, the Mary Sue also covers That Scene, and mentions Julia Quinn's take (which is, IMO, wrong, but good to know).

The Vulture had an interview with the Intimacy Coordinator (sex scene choreographer, essentially), which I thought was interesting.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:34 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


I feel like Beverly Jenkins should get a shout out if we're talking about actually diverse regency romance books

I've only read one of Beverly Jenkins' books so far, but aren't most of her historicals set in post-Civil-War era US? She's one of the greats, of course, but I think the setting has to be early 1800's England to be categorized as Regency. (I agree on recommending Alyssa Cole too - though I don't think she's done Regency yet, everything I have read of hers from Revolutionary War setting to post-apocalypse setting has been terrific.)
posted by oh yeah! at 6:19 PM on January 5


So, in defense of the Regency genre, and I know that I could basically write an entire thesis paper about this tension:

It is, in many ways, a genre about extremely rigid, but clearly labeled rules of society, and the tension between the very real dangers and the advantages of breaking them. It’s popularity, in my view, seems to have surged as our own society goes through periods where the rules of society (and particularly of courtship) are neither labeled nor clear, and whether or not someone has broken a rule and the punishment they will receive for it are completely, completely unclear in many ways.

I think also they are and have always been the lure of economic stability. The heroines rarely ever find love with less than the younger brother of a lord, and the nature of the happily ever after requires us to feel secure in the happiness of the couple. What economic stability exists now? Almost none. So naturally people find themselves in fantasy thinking of a world without drudgery, where they can live their most rewarding lives. If you look at romances over time, I agree that this has been exacerbated in the last thirty years - 1950s and 1960s era romances had other tensions but often the gentlemen required less ostentatious wealth.

I think I enjoy Courtney Milan more, but her stuff also tends to have less of the tensions of external rules, and more of the tensions of internal rules, which is still interesting, but in a very different way.
posted by corb at 7:39 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


"So naturally people find themselves in fantasy thinking of a world without drudgery, where they can live their most rewarding lives."

Hah. I am reading "To Have and To Hoax" right now and the main concern is that the husband and wife have been feuding for 4 years over a Big Revelation.... and he has time to go hang around at the horse stables, and she has all this time to recatalog the library and read whatever she wants without being shamed for it any more, and they want for nothing, and nobody gets up before noon, and their main concerns are pulling pranks on each other to see if the other one secretly still gives a shit about them, if people are sleeping with other people, and whether or not they all go to the theater. It's VERY privileged.

On the other hand, this is a novel where the husband and wife HAD to get married after spending a whopping ten minutes together and being caught alone on a balcony. Speaking of very strict rules.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:22 PM on January 5


It is, in many ways, a genre about extremely rigid, but clearly labeled rules of society, and the tension between the very real dangers and the advantages of breaking them.

I love this analysis.
The thing is, I like regency romance as a genre.

One annoying thing about mediocre historical romance is that the author often picks and chooses which social rules the characters are forced to adhere to and which ones the author momentarily ignores because they would get in the way of her plot. It makes the characters seem rather inconsistent in their choices. (In the tv-show Bridgerton it doesn't matter to me because they just turned regency England into a sort of fantasy realm.)

I think good historical romance requires a ton of research. K.J. Charles has a great blog about her writing that reflects that.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:21 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


and he has time to go hang around at the horse stables, and she has all this time to recatalog the library and read whatever she wants without being shamed for it any more, and they want for nothing

When I think of this, I think of Dorothy Sayers on the creation of Peter Wimsey: "When I was dissatisfied with my single unfurnished room I took a luxurious flat for him in Piccadilly. When my cheap rug got a hole in it, I ordered him an Aubusson carpet. When I had no money to pay my bus fare I presented him with a Daimler double-six, upholstered in a style of sober magnificence, and when I felt dull I let him drive it."

Most of the writers of Regency romance are or historically have been working class women, beginning with Georgette Heyer, which I think also affects the way I at least see them - it's not 'These rich people thinking they have problems' but 'Ah, we are all taking a flight of imagination together before we return to our problems.'
posted by corb at 5:38 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Ok, so I watched the whole season in 2 days, and while I don't love it, well, everyone in it is easy on the eyes and it made me not think about Real Life for at least 8 hours.

But the final reveal, about Pen being Lady W is just an insult to viewers. She is being presented as this naive young girl without much freedom, while also being an incredibly witty and insightful social commenter? I don't think so. Even if it is true in the books, I think the writers should have found another option. I could buy the final scene as Penelope subbing for the real LadyW to keep her the writer's identity secret - and this would've added another subplot to make things more interesting. But as it is, it's just weak. It made me so angry I had to come here and comment on it.
posted by gakiko at 3:26 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


So, I think all the things that bother me are conventions (?) but I don't know if that means they are still inviolate in Shondaland.

Either way, I realize I'm really just here for Lady Danbury and not paying too much attention, because i feel like it's doing well with what it's got while a lot of what it's got is-- not good?
So while worrying at it doing that thing of not being quite camp enough yet too campy at the same time, I've also learned through interviews that Nicola Coughlan is the most adorable creature gracing the earth, so I'm looking forward to Derry Girls and more adventures of Pen.
I swear, if there was a floofy animal friend with the lovable qualities of Nicola Coughlan, we could foment world peace by letting her wander up to random people and smile.

But if they dispose of Lady Danbury, then we part ways civilly but without need of words.
posted by provoliminal at 7:35 PM on January 8


Not perfect but fairly entertaining.

Swell costumes.
Those brothers are all the same actor.
Penelope isn't quite convincing as the journalist, her character doesn't quite fit the jaded tone. The dressmaker as the secret gossip would just seem to make more sense.

Mostly amused by the quirkiness and constant stream of minor anachronisms, except of course when the Duke & Duchess portrait is unveiled, then it's all HEY THATS NOT REGENCY STYLE PORTRAITURE.
posted by ovvl at 12:16 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Those brothers are all the same actor.

Heh. My wife and I call them "Not Hugh Jackman", "Not gay painter", and "not interesting brother".

I am embarrassed to admit that it took me until halfway through the LAST EPISODE to realize that the Bridgerton siblings names start with successive letters of the alphabet.

I love the richness of the color. Clothing, flowers, everything. It's so damn pretty to watch.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:48 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


So pretty!

Thinking about corb et alia's take on Regencies as playing a game of social rules -- the more it's presented that way the more it's like USian high school, or at least USian high school drama of my youth. What really chimes is the meta-game that you win by breaking the rules and not getting punished for it. Disturbingly relevant to our current national politics in large and small, so I was wondering if it's become a stronger trope in Regencies than it used to be.

Which led me to read Maria Edgeworth's The Absentee. Published in 1812, so it's an actual Regency novel, with a HEA ending: Regency romance. With many of the Regency tropes, but absolutely not all. I intend to put up a Fanfare for it -- anyone interested in a set of Fanfares on Regencies to compare and contrast?
posted by clew at 1:37 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Re: meta-games and social rules: while writing my book review of the above mentioned non-Bridgerton book, I tried to find ANY clarification online as to how "compromised" worked in the real Regency period and found NOTHING. Literally, nothing. I've read so many Regencies where it's all "if you're alone with a man for a SECOND you are compromised" (or if you're caught kissing, or alone on a balcony, or heroically saving a lady from bug attack), and the standard always seemed to be pretty crazy high. But....is that actually true, or just novelist troping?
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:25 PM on January 12


One would have to read a lot of court cases and letters from the Regency to work that out, I think? I might go check the superb The Prospect Before Her for an idea. I know she has evidence for historically-low-for-Europe rates of unwed motherhood in later nineteenth c middle class England, maybe all the Protestant countries; but I can’t remember when those strong social sanctions started.
posted by clew at 6:26 PM on January 12


A lot of it is also probably circumstantial (things that might be compromising were considered okay in certain structured circumstances), and when it comes describing indecent behavior, people aren't as direct as we might hope (was it that they were interrupted alone in the room together, or were they interrupted alone in a room together?). I do know that kissing games were definitely a thing.

I'd also be up for a regency book club! Not sure if it makes sense to talk about it here or fanfare talk, though.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:14 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Clew started a regency book club discussion here.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:24 AM on January 13


And thank you for pointing me to Fanfare Talk, dinty_moore .
posted by clew at 11:20 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Since this is clearly alt-history I'm perfectly fine with the Eye Candy Los Angeles jewelry and peculiar costumes though some of the scenes around them didn't make sense (corsets? or not?) and it always seems a waste to not add more hats and bonnets when there's a very good excuse for them.

But then, I didn't mind the changes in Reign or Anna Karenina, either.

It may be the first time I've seen black people dressed up in main roles in such a fluffy frothy fun series and I'm all for it.

That said, I didn't like the two main characters and I'm so mom-aged that I was rooting for the prince even though I knew it wouldn't happen.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:45 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]


Okay, I'm halfway through ACTUALLY WATCHING IT and here are my thoughts:
* Well, yes, Simon and Daphne certainly do a lot of eye-fucking, but it's when they are snarking on fainting and actually having conversations that actually gets me into the relationship, such as it is. That was sweet/hilarious.
* God, Anthony is awful. You get why he's protective of his sister, and he at least gets it when he finds out that Nigel is awful rather than "well, looks good on paper, might as well marry them off," but he treats his girlfriend like shit, coldly dumps her, then wants her back. Fuck you, dude. Disappointed she agreed to shag you halfway through. Also, DAPHNE'S JOB IS TO GET MARRIED AND YOU ARE TRYING TO KILL MOST OF HER PROSPECTS (in one case, literally). You are no help.
* Hah hah, neither Anthony nor Daphne knows how to turn on a stove.
* Ah, the prince: perfectly fine, nice, handsome person, who's a prince.
* Daphne literally riding in between them on a white horse as they're about to shoot and then falling off said horse is as dramatic as it gets.
* Eloise: our proto-feminist heroine for the ages.
* Francesca: still nonexistent. Who lets their...how old is she, probably 12...kid just bug off to Bath all year?
* Penelope: my favorite in the books, I am conflicted on her.
* Featheringtons: even worse here, good lord.

Does anyone want to discuss the books sometime? I have some of them, but not all, around the house. I actually reread The Viscount Who Loved Me last night and dear lord, Anthony is so much better in that one. I certainly hope they redeem him in season 2 of the show.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:47 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Finished it.

* Siena: stop going back and forth with Anthony. Okay, looks like she actually did.
* The Rape Scene: What I don't get is in episode seven, both of them are mad at the other one and have reason to be, but why is Simon kind of vaguely trying to make up to her? (And goes down on her.) Shouldn't he ... be hesitant about that? Okay, so oral doesn't involve his sperm, but still. (Also, ow on the stairs.)
* I liked how Daphne finally found out Simon's backstory and then was all, "You'd rather follow a vow to a dead jerk over ME?" about it.
* Not sure if just being in the rain makes everything better, but...okay, I guess?
* Eloise's detective plot was fun, if wrong in the end.
* The queen hiring a teenager to be a detective, then hiring professionals, is hilarious.
* I'm not sure why they hint at Benedict being bi in this series. I'd be surprised if they went there given that this is a famous series and in the original Benedict did end up with a lady (albeit one not totally kosher with society, so I feel like they foreshadowed that at least).
* Marina is just sad. Especially when she thought the DIY abortion worked. And in the books, even sadder (sigh). I kind of hope they don't show her next season if they stick to the book plot.
* Penelope is my favorite in the books, and I certainly get why she betrayed Marina on the show because literally nothing else would stop the elopement, but at the same time it's horrible and nastier than the character got in the books. Ugh.
* I am hoping they rehab Anthony since he would be the star in book two. Well, he's not totally awful, just mostly awful....
* Other than when they are banging, Daphne and Simon seem so obviously unhappy a lot of the time (albeit for good reasons), geez. I seriously think having more conversations would be better for these two.
* I did like how Daphne started taking some actions towards the end.
* Lady D's Married Ladies Drinking And Gambling Society is the best.
* If everyone forgets about Francesca, why is she in the show at all?
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:26 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Nicola Coughlan confirms a season 2, promising that we should, "expect much scandal indeed!"
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:35 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


The Mary Sue on how Bridgerton should have done better with queer representation.

Also I demand an entire episode in season 2 that is just Lady Danbury's parties, because she knows how to have a good time.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:01 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


I'm late but I just watched the whole series over a few days. A lot has already been said, but I want to say it too!

A: Anthony sucks. He started off and continued to be willfully unaware of all the burdens that women have, and I'm glad Siena finally kicked him to the curb. He needs a hell of a redemption arc next season, I guess.

B: Queer-baiting, yes! How great would it have been if Benedict's threesome was with Madame Delacroix...and another man? Can he please be the B in LGBT? What a waste, other than his smoking scenes with Eloise.

C: I have a lot of sympathy for the less-conventionally-pretty childhood best friend pining away for the boy, I really do. And then this storyline turned out to have so much more pathos than I expected. :( More thoughts below, but Colin is a cinnamon roll.

D: exasperated sigh For me Regé-Jean Page carried what's supposed to be the central romance this season on his sheer charisma and yeah, I liked looking at him and hearing his voice. I kept seeing Daphne as being approximately 16 based on her early naivete and styling, even though the actor is 25, which made a lot of their scenes land weirdly for me. And then there's the lack of communication, the dubious informed consent with their marriage and early sexual relationship, the scene that yes in a modern context is rape...Even setting aaallll that aside, good on you for landing the hot guy, but I can't help but wince when I think about poor Prince Friedrich. He's kind, adored her, was clear about what his intentions were and he absolutely wants a giant family like she does. He's handsome even if he's not hot-like-fire. I had the same problem with The Notebook and James Marsden's character. I can't root for a couple that's fiery and tumultuous and won't communicate over one that's kind, loving, and respectful, which often makes me a bad consumer of romance. [I still love P&P and Elizabeth and Darcy, probably because they spend time developing that respect.] Sigh.

E: Kind of one-note. Yes, yes, feminism etc. I am hopeful that she started getting more nuance towards the end and I want that to continue. She can still be clear on what she wants without putting down all the women who are acting according to the society rules they're stuck in. I also hope there's potential for a queer romance there but I won't hold my breath.

F: Gonna skip to Featherington. I have more sympathy for Mama Featherington than I think the show wants me to have? Like she has the same predicament Lady Bennet did, where she's got these daughters she needs to secure futures for, except that instead of just indifferent her husband also gambled away their whole fortune. I saw her as a really tragic figure, who sometimes did nasty things (forging the letter to Marina) but it was understandable.

Penelope and Marina: I also like that they're both in the wrong in some ways, and right in other ways. I think Marina was done dirty in the end, though it looks like she was able to accept the brother's proposal after all? I actually thought it was foolish of her to refuse him initially, though I completely understand why she wouldn't accept the gross old men and also tricked Colin. I would have been okay at that point if Marina had married him, actually. Penelope is sympathetic too, even if her revealing Marina's secret was horrible, and I don't think it's convincing that she's Lady W. I don't believe that she'd write those things that way, and also struggle to make any headway with her childhood crush. I also had that reveal spoiled for me halfway through by the cast listing on Wikipedia, when I went to find out how old all these actors are, so that colored my impressions in the back half.

Philippa and her sneezy suitor were kinda cute.

I enjoyed that the queen is a big gossip hound. And that she ships couples in-universe. She needs the distraction!

Finally, I'm firmly Team Lady Danbury and her married-lady parties.
posted by j.r at 2:13 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, I'm not a stickler for historical accuracy or anything but it bothered me how much Daphne let her fancy dresses get rained on! And did someone grab the portrait to stop it from getting ruined at that final party? And the sex on the stairs or gazebo floor...ouch.
posted by j.r at 2:16 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I'm fascinated to hear that some people thought there weren't hints that Penelope was Lady Bridgerton. I thought it was maybe too obvious to be true. In addition to the Marina reveal, especially right after Marina had been really quite cruel to Penelope, she protested way to much to Eloise that she didn't want to talk about it and she had nothing to say about the Queen's luncheon, which she couldn't attend.

There absolutely are serious moral flaws in the characters, plots that are hanging on by a thread, and practical and historical ridiculousness but I really enjoyed this and want to spend more time in this world. I agree that Lady Danbury and the Queen's wigs are the best part but I do also enjoy a will they/won't they romance that gets resolved with yes, they will.
posted by carolr at 10:43 AM on February 8


I loved it although it was ridiculous in so many ways! Like if you took Downton Abbey and replaced every bit of interest in the servants’ lives with BUTTS. Also Daphne is beautiful but I lost it at Chloe Fineman’s impression.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:24 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


I finally got around to watching this. I'm mostly on board with the Shonda-ness of it all but one thing that really rankled was how uneven the acting was for such a lavish production. Siena was especially awful - watching scenes with her and the Bridgerton bro (who was actually very good) was so bizarre, like he was acting against a casting assistant reading in her lines. It was especially cringe-inducing in her scenes with the absolutely brilliant Kathryn Drysdale (as Madame Delacroix).

Daphne's wild oscillations between RP and some kind of generic 'Austinian' were painful to my ears. Simon was also a bit too on the nose with the D'Arcy vibe - my toes curled but not in a good way during the mansplaining masturbation scene - but happily the actor has enough charisma for it mostly not to matter.

I will totally watch the hell out out of anything involving the queen and/or Eloise though. Great stuff!
posted by freya_lamb at 6:04 PM on February 8


So the main thing that kept my interest here was Rege Jean Page, but at the same time, I really found myself rooting for Daphne to just accept the Prince's proposal, even though I know it's not what the narrative wanted me to think. I get that he doesn't turn her on the way Simon did, but still, he's kind, respectful, seems genuinely interested in her as a person, and best of all, wants to have a big family surrounded by a loving extended family, which is also exactly what Daphne wants. And he clearly communicates these desires! Also, he's a prince.

Also, I really thought the artist Bridgerton brother was going to be gay or bi. Like, I was sure that's where they were leading with the whole Bohemian life style thing. I was very disappointed to be wrong.

Count me as another person who had a really hard time keeping track of the Bridgerton brothers, including how many there actually were.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:48 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Regency Romances and US high school is why Clueless is an adaptation of Emma
posted by bq at 12:57 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Caught up with this one. I rather enjoyed it. I thought that for at least in part it functioned as a critisism of the world they inhabitated, and how it constrained people in unfair ways. In particular Simon and Daphes issues were almost entirely about a failure to communicate.

I agree that the rape scene was indeed rape, but that is by modern standards, and while its clear that Daphne knows that what she is doing is wrong, she clearly doesnt understand it in a modern gaze. After all, the modern understanding of consent is not that old. That said, of course, the writers and creators of the show are aware, so it is questionable that this scene was truly needed.

I found the penelope revelation one that rather made her seem deeply unpleasant, and honwstly completely at odds with her behaviour. She simply did not seem worldly enough to write at a level that would intrigue the whole of society. And it makes her friendship with eloise seem very false; there was no particular reason not to just tell eloise this other than losing her connectioj to gossip. She was also quite mean about the bridgertons on several occasions!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:53 AM on March 22


‘Bridgerton’ Breakout Regé-Jean Page Will Not Appear in Season 2 (Variety, April 2, 2021) “Bridgerton” fans, the time has come to bid adieu to Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings. Netflix and Shondaland announced on Friday that star Regé-Jean Page’s character will not appear on the show’s upcoming second season, revealing the news via a notice from Lady Whistledown. [...] News of the duke’s departure will likely not come as a surprise to fans of the Julia Quinn novels on which the series is based, as the character’s storyline largely plays out in the first book “The Duke and I.” And the news certainly did not come as a shock to the star.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:02 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed season one but definitely felt satisfied being done after one season. The news that Page won’t be around after this kind of solidifies my lack of excitement for more seasons. He was one of my favorite characters/actors and his history was some of the most interesting stuff to watch, for me.
posted by obfuscation at 4:40 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


I can understand, I guess, but I really wish they would bring him back for at least one episode, specifically for "Bridgerton Pall Mall," which he was in in book 2.

....what is that? Just you wait....
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:42 AM on April 3


Even if he wasn't a huge part of the second book (which I'm assuming he's not, I haven't read it), I'm still disappointed - he was such a huge part of the draw of the first season that I hoped they'd write more content for him.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:33 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Finally watched this! Question: one of Daphne's dresses has this great high structured collar. I can't find an image, but she wears it a number of times at Clyvedon. Is there a particular name for that style of collar?
posted by curious nu at 9:22 AM on April 28


I remember open necklines (Regency-style bodices / open, scooped necks to show off jewelry or collarbones) for most gowns; younger sister Eloise wears some high-necked day dresses. Daphne does wear a high-collared riding habit in the show, though?
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:03 PM on April 28


Uploaded a couple of screenshots here. I was thinking of the first one specifically, but the second one also has it (she has so many blue dresses they all run together).
posted by curious nu at 6:29 PM on April 28


"The Queen Anne neckline forms a heart shape just above your bust line and features a high collar in the back. This regal neckline is prominent in bridal wear." (not a great link: 25 Types of Necklines)
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:13 PM on April 28


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