Bridgerton: The Regency Romance Returns

È finalmente uscita la terza stagione di una delle serie più popolari. A metà strada tra commedia romantica e dramma d’epoca, dietro un’apparenza frivola e storicamente inaccurata, si nasconde uno spettacolo iconoclasta di primo ordine.

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Bridgerton fans rejoice the fictional family returns to our television screens. The first season of the Netflix period drama was released on Christmas Day 2020, when the world was in need of some light relief — and Bridgerton delivered it in spades. Set during the Regency period*, it followed the romantic trials and tribulations of London society, with luxurious settings and sumptuous costumes, and classical renditions of pop music hits from the likes of Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish. A staggering eighty-two million households around the world watched the show. The second series was released in March 2022, and it surpassed the first in terms of the number of viewers.

Brigeton

one child at a time

Based on the best-selling books by American author Julia Quinn, each series tells the story of one of the eight children of the Dowager Viscountess Bridgerton. Starting in 1813 at the beginning of the social season, we follow the balls, picnics and gatherings of the ton*, as young debutantes are introduced to society. Behind the facade of strict etiquette and polite manners, Bridgerton’s characters flirt, gossip and scheme. The show is narrated by the mysterious Lady Whistledown*, voiced by famous actor Julie Andrews. Lady Whistledown is a pseudonym: the author of the nobility’s popular gossip column, her real identity is unknown to the characters.

Fact vs fiction

The series paints a romanticised and eroticised picture of Regency life. Some of the customs and characters are an accurate reflection of history. Queen Charlotte and King George III were indeed real, as were the monarch’s struggles with his mental health. The ‘ton’ was a Regency name for high society. Other features of the show, however, are purely fictional, such as the Queen choosing the most beautiful debutante of the season: the so-called “diamond of the first water*.”

RACIAL MIX

What was also fictionalised was the racial mix in society. Actors come from a diversity of ethnic and racial backgrounds, while the upper classes during Regency times were largely white.The colour-blind casting has caused debate. While patriarchal oppression, consent and other important issues are dealt with, racism is barely touched upon. The spin-off series Queen Charlotte, A Bridgerton Story goes deeper into the matter, imagining a Black Queen Charlotte opening the doors to society for non-white gentry

Regency revival

The series reflects a Regency revival in the popular arts. Jane Austen purists may protest, but Bridgerton’s modern cultural themes are expertly woven into the historical setting. It’s a fresh new formula that sets a new standard for period dramas.

Season three is the story of Colin and Penelope, the third Bridgerton son and the youngest Featherington daughter. It is a deviation of the order of Quinn’s books — the third was about the second son, Benedict, but the producers did not want to keep audiences waiting to see how this budding romance would develop. Social media is already flooded with posts tagging #Polin and @TeamPolin; ‘Polin’ being an amalgamation of Penelope and Colin. Bridgerton is becoming one of Netflix’s most successful franchises and a fourth season has already been confirmed.  

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