IMDb rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 94%
This lavish costume romance series is Netflix’s Christmas gift to viewers, all wrapped up in glitzy paper with ribbons and glitter and sugar and spice.
Bridgerton is executive produced by Shonda Rhimes under her Shondaland umbrella, which covers series like Grey’s Anatomy, How To Get Away With Murder, The Fixer (aka Scandal), Station 19 and many more.
This time the setting is high society in London’s Regency period between 1813 and 1827, and based on Julia Quinn’s multiple novels about the Bridgerton siblings and their quests for love, condensed here into eight one-hour episodes. Sets are bright and sharp and clean in the city, lush and green in the countryside. Chandeliers sparkle, fireworks dazzle, and the ladies’ gorgeous frocks take on every colour in the rainbow. There is no resemblance to reality; this is pure, frothy escapism.
In the spirit of Gossip Girl XOXO, there is an unseen narrator (voiced by Julie Andrews) who serves the tea as the blushing debutantes navigate the perilous waters of balls and soirees, garden parties and polite parlours.
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The cast includes Regé-Jean Page (who grew up in Zimbabwe, and is a Shondaland alumnus from For The People); Phoebe Dynevor (Younger) is the female lead, Daphne Bridgerton. Showrunner Chris Van Dusen – already a citizen of Shondaland – said in an interview that the series should appeal to a wide audience, beyond devoted readers of the novels.
“The books — they were funny. They were emotional. They were intriguing. They were really sexy. And, you know, considering how everything was going at the time in the world, I was looking for escapism, and that’s something a lot of people are looking for now. It also presented this really interesting, unique opportunity to mix history and fantasy in what I thought was a really interesting way.”