Now more than ever, stories are a brilliant way to escape and relax. So over the past few weeks I have joined millions of viewers across the globe and become a bit obsessed with the Netflix series, Bridgerton. For those not familiar with the Bridgerton sensation, the show is adapted from books written by Julia Quinn, and produced by Shonda Rhimes. It is a beautiful, racy Regency romance that sparkles with wit and practically dances along. So I thought it might be fun to look at what makes Bridgerton so special, and what I can learn/use in my own writing.
First off, I must admit that I have yet to read the Bridgerton books, so all my observations have come from the Netflix series...
|Daphne and the Duke of Hastings|
It is 1813 and Daphne Bridgerton is presented to society in search of a suitable husband. Woman had little power during the Regency era but Daphne, and her mother, play the game brilliantly, refusing to stick to suffocating rules. Daphne is one of eight siblings (the eldest daughter), all attractive, all flawed, characters who are easy to root for - and that has to be down to great writing.
But if the Bridgertons are interesting, then their neighbours, Mrs Featherington and her clutch of eligible daughters, add humour. Think overblown dresses in garish colours that are a touch too much. Whilst the mysterious Lady Whistledown, voiced by Julie Andrews, produces a regular society circular, revealing scandals and encouraging gossip.
|The wonderful Featherington Sisters|
Lastly, I must mention the Duke of Hastings, the smouldering hot hero who is rather easy on the eye. (The Duke of Hastings spoon has a following of over 16k on Instagram, which says everything you need to know!)
|Ahem... the scene that's caused such a stir...|
In short, there is someone for everyone to engage with, and lots going on to keep the viewer hooked.
I don't wish to create spoilers for anyone still to read/view, but just when the viewer thinks things may turn out well, someone new joins the cast, throwing life into disarray - keeping the audience on their toes. Each episode pulses with tension (and heaving bosoms).
For the most part, viewers know as much as the characters, and we must follow their journey to discover what will transpire. However, some of the humour comes when the audience knows more than the characters - for example, when the youngest Featherington daughter, Penelope, wonders how an unwed woman can possibly be pregnant?
As a writer, I should consider how much a reader needs to know and when.
|Penelope Featherington and Eloise Bridgerton discuss |
an unexpected pregnancy...
The set of Bridgerton is lavish with extravagant balls hosted in stately homes, beneath glittering chandeliers. The costumes are fairy-tale stunning (look out for the Queen's outrageous wigs) and make the whole spectacle a delight. A reported 7500 costume pieces were made for the first series. Then there are the horses, the carriages, the afternoon teas... Who wouldn't wish to be swept away to such a fantasy land, if even for a little while?
Of course, not all stories can be set against an upper-class Regency backdrop, but it is important that whichever setting a writer choses that the landscape/surroundings are vivid, easy for a reader to imagine.
|Queen Charlotte in a fabulous wig...|
If we analyse Bridgerton through a feminist lense then there is no doubt that the main theme is out-dated - women scrambling to bag themselves a decent future via a wealthy husband. However, Daphne is smart, wielding what little power she has in clever ways, and it's her battle against the system that is so appealing.
A reminder that the greater the conflict (which is both external and internal in Daphne's case) the more the viewer (and reader) will want their girl to win through.
There has been much comment upon the fact that rather than using classical pieces, string quartets have adapted pop anthems by the likes of Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes as the Bridgerton soundtrack. Additionally, the screen casting is diverse, which is refreshing in a Regency drama.
|The Bridgerton soundtrack is available on Spotify...|
But how does this apply to my own writing? I don't write Regency Romance - although I wish I did! Surely the lesson here is to respect the tropes of a given genre, but not to be afraid to make it original. To add a new twist. To have fun.
I hope you have found this short study of Bridgerton thought-provoking. Whatever I write next, I hope it is a tiny bit more Bridgerton. And if you have yet to watch the series, then you are in for a treat.