Bridgerton viewership surpasses Netflix's "The Witcher"

By MARISSA KRASNY
On February 3, 2021

Photo courtesy of Fair Use, Wikipedia

It’s hard to come up with an original idea these days. Decades upon decades of film and a dramatic increase in shows due to streaming services creating their own has led to unavoidable repetition. One feature of this is adapting other media for the screen, such as books and video games. Whether it will be done well or if the adapted media's original success be lost in translation is hard to predict. For Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” however, the move was a smashing success.

The new Netflix original has broken records and become the most streamed show on the platform, with 82 million household views, surpassing Netflix’s “The Witcher” by 6 million views. When you explore what exactly “Bridgerton” is, the appeal is easily discernible from a quick view at a trailer (and I am not just talking about the gorgeous cast). 

Producer of the show, Shonda Rhimes, has an excellent track record of helming some of the most popular drama shows of the past few years, including “Scandal,” “Greys Anatomy” and “How To Get Away With Murder.” The amount of passion, drama and suspense that is to be expected from a Shonda Rhimes show is not lacking from “Bridgerton,” I can promise you. 

“Bridgerton” is an adaptation of a series of classic British Regency era romance novels, the first season drawing from the first book in the series, “The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn. The books follow the Bridgerton family, consisting of a matriarch and her eight children. The plot follows Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, the eldest daughter, as she begins to embark on her “social season” to be presented at court and attempts to find a husband. Simultaneously, an anonymous gossip pamphlet penned by an enigmatic woman, known as Lady Whistledown, is being distributed amongst the London elite, revealing all of their secrets. 

This Regency marriage story at first appears to be standard romance novel fodder, with the addition of Lady Whistledown providing mystery and intrigue elements to hold viewer interest. However, one episode in and you discover that this show is anything but standard.

The courtship between Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), the Duke of Hastings, is not what it appears to be. The other characters are compelling and do not fade into the background. Each character has a distinctive storyline in this dramatic ensemble cast. Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) struggles with being the head male of the family and living up to his father; Marina Thompson (Ruby Barker) has a secret she must conceal from high society; and Eloise Bridgerton’s (Claudia Jessie) academic ambition is consistently thwarted by sexism. 

All of these diverse storylines entail that there is something for everyone to enjoy. They are all blended together so seamlessly that all the varying stories and themes feel cohesive. The show also has an incredibly modern feel to it despite the classic era it is set in.

The cast is multi-racial, and the costumes and the soundtrack are a wonderful blend of classic and modern, such as the violin covers of artists like Billie Eilish, which helps remove the disconnect between the setting of the story and the viewers watching it now.

“Bridgerton’s” praise is well deserved. The show is the perfect classic romance for the present era, ensuring future seasons will have a lot to draw from. I am eagerly awaiting season two, which is said to focus on Anthony Bridgerton and his quest for love.

5/5 stars

 

mkrasny@ramapo.edu

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