It is a truth universally acknowledged that a period piece with even the slightest resemblance to a Jane Austen novel must be in want of a viewer. And that viewer is me. All a project needs to get me on board is at least one Empire-waist dress and a plucky heroine who dreams of disrupting society’s rules. If there’s a dashing hero with a strong moral code, hey, even better.
So Bridgerton on Netflix, a new series following the highs and lows of the high society set in Regency-era London, was always going to appeal to me. Produced by Shonda Rhimes, Bridgerton is essentially a mash-up of all my favorites—and I’m guessing yours too.
How often have you watched the Keira Knightley Pride & Prejudice and swooned over Darcy’s hand flex? What if you had that and the sexy times of a Shondaland production? Throw in some elements of Gossip Girl—a.k.a. Lady Whistledown, a mysterious gossip columnist, is a running thread throughout Bridgerton‘s first season—and you have eight episodes of delightfully charming and steamy entertainment.
It’s best to just lean into the campier elements of Bridgerton. Expect to see a man’s bare bum within the premiere’s opening minutes. You’ll notice a love scene is set to a Vitamin String Quartet cover of “Wildest Dreams.” A major source of drama revolves around whether or not a man pulled out in time after sex.
“It’s vibrant and sensual and sexy,” creator and executive producer Chris Van Dusen told Glamour‘s West Coast editor Jessica Radloff on set. “We wanted to take what’s always been a traditionally conservative genre and turn it on its head.”
It all adds to the fun, even if it’s not the most historically accurate period piece. Would we really want that anyway? In this world, the two most powerful and influential characters are Black women: the wealthy, high-ranking Lady Danbury and the queen.
In fact, I wish Bridgerton had pushed its progressive storylines and characters even further. Penelope Featherington, the only non-thin character, is ridiculed for her size and basically given dust. In one episode, a Bridgerton sibling befriends a gay man and…that’s it. I was rooting for a queer romance, not a tokenized Gay Best Friend.
Overall, though, Bridgerton is just what the (Grey’s Anatomy) doctor ordered. After a difficult year, it’s nice to close 2020 out with pure escapist joy. Or put in Austen terms: And she was ever sensible of the warmest gratitude toward the persons who, by bringing her into Bridgerton, had been the means of happiness.
Bridgerton is now streaming on Netflix.
Anna Moeslein is the senior entertainment editor at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @annamoeslein.