10 reasons why viewers are loving Bridgerton

By the end of January, 63 million households will have watched Bridgerton. Here are 10 reasons why it's such a hit.

 

 

THE CERTIFIED HIT MAKER

There's a very good reason Netflix opened its cheque book and scribbled a lot of zeros when it coaxed Shonda Rhimes away from US network ABC - her home of more than 15 years - in 2017. Rhimes is a certified hit maker.

Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder and now Bridgerton, the first of many shows produced by her to appear on the streamer.

The eye-popping deal is believed to be worth at least $US150 million with incentives built in that could take that figure much higher.

It seems like a lot of money, but it's a solid investment by Netflix and with the company predicting more than 63 million households will watch Bridgerton in the four weeks following its Christmas Day launch, it's a smashing start for Rhimes.

 

AN ERA RE-IMAGINED

Diversity has been a key focus for Rhimes in her success stories. Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder are both helmed by strong women of colour and Grey's Anatomy has a rich cast and hits on topics other shows often steer clear of.

Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix
Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Queen Charlotte is a woman of colour, the enigmatic Duke of Hastings is black, as is society powerbroker Lady Danbury.

This is not colourblind casting but a fantasised world where the colour of one's skin doesn't determine your place in the social hierarchy - as it certainly did during that period.

There is a subtle reference to race in one scene but otherwise it is not an integral part of the storyline … while also being an integral part of the storyline.

 

COLOUR AND SEX APPEAL

Bridgerton is not your normal period drama. It's sexy, risque and bright. To pull that off, its costumes had to be the same.

Ellen Mirojnick, known for working her designer magic on films such as Fatal Attraction (1987), Wall Street (1987) and Basic Instinct (1992), took guidance from the fashions of the era, but she also had to inject an element of haute couture that she told Vogue was inspired by Christian Dior, especially in the '50s and '60s. The wardrobe department was mammoth. There were more than 7500 pieces made by a staff that numbered close to 240. Expect these costumes to be on the receiving end of many awards this year, but also expect to see new trends on the street inspired by the looks of society belles Daphne Bridgerton and Penelope Featherstone.

Rege-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix
Rege-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Data released recently by eBay shows a whopping 2200 per cent increase in searches for brighter styles of clothing since the show's launch.

There has been a 40 per cent uptick in searches for 'corsets' while 'puff sleeve dress' searches are up by more than 25 per cent. Getting ready to go out could be about to take a whole lot longer.

 

WHAT IS THAT SONG?

What the hell is that song they are playing? In that grand ballroom. In 1813. Is that … Ariana Grande? Yes. Yes it is. It's yet another brilliant quirk of this series that just works.

While Bridgerton's creators have managed to layer the show with subtle modern touches to enhance things like fashion and language, some of the music is given the opposite treatment.

Hits from artists such as Grande, Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes and Billie Eilish are given a classical makeover.

Some you will pick instantly while others have you pulling your hair out trying to guess what you're listening to.

 

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE MEETS GOSSIP GIRL

In Bridgerton's 1813, London's aristocracy is held to account by the mysterious Lady Whistledown who pens a scandal sheet so accurate and so influential it is read by everyone including the Queen.

Some of the cast of Bridgerton. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix
Some of the cast of Bridgerton. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Sordid details held within its pages can make or break even the most powerful, the author seemingly privy to the most personal transgressions, but her identity is her best kept secret.

Voiced by Julie Andrews, Lady Whistledown provides a rolling narration on the lives of London's elite that helps us navigate the foreign concept of 'marriage season' and the complicated - and tiring - social calendar it entails.

The burning question of "who is the regency era's Gossip Girl?" will keep you guessing until the very last episode.

 

A FIGHT FOR THE AGES

The fight scenes in Bridgerton are kind of like the sex scenes: wild and raw. The Duke loves to get in the ring and spar with his mate Will Mondrich.

It's a brutal way to release the pent up sexual frustration that builds as he falls - but pretends not to fall - for Daphne Bridgerton. Mondrich is a professional boxer and doesn't hold back on his old mate.

The costumes add to the show. Picture: Nick Briggs/Netflix
The costumes add to the show. Picture: Nick Briggs/Netflix

Shirts are off and there's not a glove or mouthguard in sight as he pounds the Duke into submission.
It's the kind of fighting you might expect from a modern drama set in the backstreets of New York, but it is choreographed perfectly to give a sense into the mindset of the troubled protagonist.

 

LOCATIONS AND SETS

Bridgerton is a compelling period drama, but if your television suddenly became void of sound, you could still watch this series and be captivated by the stunning backdrops.

From the grand homes, such as the 1722-built Ranger's House that acts as the Bridgertons' residence, to the stunning ballrooms these high society families seem to spend half their lives in.

Historic Leigh Court, Guildhall and the Bath Assembly Rooms were used to bring to life these social scenes. Some locations may have an air of familiarity as they were used in series such as The Crown and Enola Holmes. But it's also the attention to detail and smaller things that make this such a perfectly pulled together production.

The flowers alone in Bridgerton would be worth a mint, not to mention the delicate table settings and artwork throughout the homes.

 

SHAKEN NOT STIRRED

Move over Tom Hardy and Idris Elba, there's a new leading man closing in on the coveted James Bond vacancy. Some UK betting agencies have slashed the odds of Rege-Jean Page, who plays Simon Basset, the very sexy Duke of Hastings, for being named the next 007.

The 31-year-old Page was at relatively long odds of 40-1 before Bridgerton landed on Christmas Day but has now dropped to just 5-1. Hardy (6-4), James Norton (7-4) and Elba (7-2) are still the frontrunners, but Page is tipped to move even further up the list as the Bridgerton juggernaut continues.

A tweet from the actor in mid December also fuelled the Bond rumour-mill.

"Regency, royalty. Shaken and stirred," he wrote in an obvious reference to the famous spy.

 

Phoebe Dynevor is a standout as Daphne Bridgerton. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix
Phoebe Dynevor is a standout as Daphne Bridgerton. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix

 

PHOEBE DYNEVOR (DAPHNE BRIDGERTON)

It's one thing to play sexy and another to play refined. The ability to do both at the same time and bring a level of smouldering appeal to a period drama is set to make Pheobe Dynevor, who plays Daphne Bridgerton, a household name.

The 25-year-old expertly navigates the young 'incomparable' Daphne through a period of self-discovery and sexual enlightenment while maintaining an innocence that bestowed women of her age in 1813.

 

FIFTY SHADES …

Period dramas are usually an exercise in subtlety. With Shonda Rhimes moving from the restrictive environment of network television to the freedom of subscription, subtlety was never going to be a part of the picture - period drama or other.

So strap yourself in, because the sex scenes in this series don't have advertisers watching from the shadows.

Far from being gratuitous, the rawness of the relationships between characters adds another level of legitimacy - possibly not from a historical perspective but from a personality one.

That bonk under the boxing ring while hundreds watch the fight above is just one that stands out.

Originally published as 10 reasons why viewers are loving Bridgerton



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