Bridgerton *is* trash – but 63million people cannot be wrong
Sorry to all those who think Bridgerton is some sort of highbrow look at Regency-era England with any historical foundation – the show is trash.
Woah, woah, put down those duelling guns, we shall not meet at dawn.
I am all in, 100%, with this trashy, Shondaland masterpiece, even if it does reek of toxicity, Emmerdale quality, over-hyped drama and more sneering glares than you can poke a walking cane at.
The show has become the talking point of nearly everyone. Those who love it can’t shut up about it and those who loathe it are also pretty keen to let you know it’s an overhyped piece of rubbish (ahem, Piers Morgan).
Naysayers aside, I know I’m not alone in adoration: 63million houses cannot be wrong, with Netflix recently revealing the conniption-inducing number of accounts who have tuned in over the course of the show’s first month.
Makes sense, seeing as it’s ranked in the top 10 of Netflix shows around the world.
It’s really not often you come across a series based on a novel where you’re not constantly under attack from the ‘yeah, it’s good, but have you read the book?’ brigade. Spare me.
Friends who I would usually see sharing Very Important acts of activism and Guardian op-eds about climate change and single-use plastics, schooling us on various gallant things we should know in any given day have now turned their social media into shrines dedicated to the Duke of Hastings (with a hint of politics and petition-sharing as to not disrupt the delicate eco-system), while others who wouldn’t be caught dead declaring their love for so much as a Kardashian are now extolling their love of the X-rated delight.
Far from the bodice-rippers previous generations would read under the covers and muse only about at the salon, we’re now dissecting the good and the bad of Bridgerton with the same Sparknotes-fuelled ferocity of an A-star paper in public. How uncouth, one Lady Bridgerton may think.
Now, while this may be an instalment of pearl-clutching trash – let’s not fool ourselves this show is some masterpiece of theatrical importance – I’ll still defend my love of it until the cows come home.
It’s the reality TV version of a drama series. Is that too harsh? I mean it in the way it’s managed to pull us under its spell with minimum effort.
Perhaps I need to big up some more the fact that I’m utterly entranced by the series, which launched in December, watched it all in one day, and am contemplating a second viewing with each meme of Simon Basset’s raised eyebrow I see on Instagram.
Christian Grey could never.
While my partner may scoff at the trailer whenever it pops up on Netflix (which is often) and would rather work on the 378th jigsaw of the pandemic than join me for a right ol’ romp with Lady Whistledown, Bridgerton has had much more of a positive effect on our mental health than some may be prepared to admit.
I understand why fans of Jane Austen classics may not want to get within a promenade of Bridgerton, but the show has got so much right – the colourblind casting, the costumes, the sets, the delightfully eye-rolling script – which makes it such a fun ride.
But it’s the escapism and bonding outside of the show that I’m here for.
Much like how Tiger King captured our consciousness at the beginning of the pandemic and set social media alight, here is another series that has managed to distract us all from the humdrum of our current situation.
Boris Johnson’s catchphrase of ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ may have come out of its retirement for another spin around the lectern, but we’ve been graced with fresh TV in which to bunker down and hibernate too; it’s something for us which to text our friends about and gossip with our colleagues over. You know, other than the near-constant chatter of how much we just want to be at the pub.
Those ‘thinking’ series we like to give ourselves a pat on the back for watching, the real-crime documentaries and the deep-dive franchises will always hold strong, but there is something to be said about the trashy series we tune into in order to tune out of the world before we realise we’ve devoured the thing in one sitting like time isn’t a thing. Is time even a thing right now? I stopped checking.
Argue all you want – it’s clear a cheesy love story will win every time. Even if it is so basically heteronormative and may or may not have jilted many viewers with queer-baiting ahead of its release. And don’t get me started on that sex scene which many have, understandably, labelled as abuse. There are elements of the series that are perhaps glorified that really shouldn’t be, but that’s not why I’m here today.
Much like I’ll fight in the corner for those who devour reality TV with the same kind of zest as your stuffy mate who barks about their love of Ulysses, I’m ready to bat for Bridgerton and sing its place in the world of Important Pop Culture.
At the very least, I’ve now got a banging love of classical music (even if the soundtrack was backed by symphonic re-workings of Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy) that will put any snob in their place next Zoom dinner party.
Who said lockdown wasn’t a time for growth?
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