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“Bridgerton” is Netflix’s most popular show to date, at more than 82 million streams, according to Netflix, after coming out on Christmas Day.
The Shondaland show is based on the first book in Julia Quinn’s eight book series about the Bridgerton siblings, the first of which is titled “The Duke and I.”
Eunice Sung started watching “Bridgerton” only after seeing the musical adaptation on Instagram after an artist she follows posted about it. From there she found Abigail Barlow’s Instagram page.
Barlow, a singer songwriter, and Emily Bear, a composer and piano prodigy, have been working together on a “Bridgerton” musical, with many of their songs going viral, including “Oceans Away” and “Burn for You.”
“I started listening to all the reels that [Barlow] had up, and that's how I started watching [“Bridgerton”],” the senior journalism major said.
Sung normally doesn’t watch period pieces but she enjoyed the intertwined storylines between the characters. Sung was not previously aware of the books but is open to the idea of reading them.
Jessica Mahoney, a senior history major, watched the series over the span of a week.
“I’m a sucker for romance and romance novels,” Mahoney said. “[‘Bridgerton’] piqued my interest more than [any other] Netflix show.”
She normally watches period dramas and the biggest thing she noticed was how the show dealt with race. Mahoney thinks there is a trend in the popularity of historical dramas with the popularity of “Downton Abbey” a few years ago.
““Bridgerton’” more than “Downton Abbey” has sex appeal, more modern music, and representation,” Mahoney said. “Having a show like “Bridgerton” capitalized on the idea of escapism in 2020.”
Even though there was representation in the show, it still had problems, Mahoney said. They didn’t have a lot of Latinos, Asians, darker skin tones, and LGBTQ+ representation, she said. She also noticed the lack of mention of slavery in England knowing the history of it.
Dr. Julie Taddeo is a research professor in the university’s department of history and focuses on 19th and 20th century British culture.
Taddeo watched the show when it came out on Christmas Day with her 15-year-old daughter and then rewatched it again later.
“I really enjoyed it. I felt like it was something we really needed,” Taddeo said. “The fantasy that love can make everything else go away. [It was] really beautiful, lavish, and over the top.”
Taddeo mentioned how the show provided little information on how the families made their money. Many families made their money through the sugar trade with slaves working on the sugar plantations. There were often sugar boycotts that even the queen participated in, according to Taddeo.
With all the sweets everywhere in the show from cakes to pastries to ice-cream, it is odd that there is no mention of sugar plantations.
Similarly, the fashion in the show was not completely accurate. The corset is a classic trope, as to show the oppression of women, and in the show it was exaggerated, Taddeo said.
“Fashion historians say that Regency corsets were fairly comfortable,” Taddeo said.
Corset sales have increased since the show came out, with many businesses, such as Amazon and sellers on Etsy, having trouble keeping the items in stock, according to Business Insider.
In the Regency era, girls would normally be presented into society at 18, but the main character, Daphne Bridgerton is 21 in the show. Men would be several years or even a decade older than their wife as they would normally be pursuing an education at Oxford and then take a tour of the continent, according to Taddeo.
“The [women's] goal was to have a family and have children [and] men aren’t going to wait [if a girl is older],” Taddeo said.
Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers are very influential in the show. In the Regency era there would be a gossip column in newspapers and many ladies magazines, according to Taddeo.
Even though the names would be anonymous, most people could figure out who was being mentioned. While women were unlikely to be the writers of such gossip papers, they may have been providing the information to the men writing the columns, Taddeo said.
The show has been renewed for a second season, and will revolve around Anthony Bridgerton based on the second novel in the series “The Viscount Who Loved Me.” Filming is said to start in spring 2021.