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Everyone's crazy about Bridgerton

What made the Netflix series a worldwide phenomenon?

By Alessia Amorosini

Bridgerton is a project born from the adaptation of the romance books by American author Julia Quinn. The saga, much appreciated by readers, published from 2000 to 2016, is now sold out and is back in the limelight thanks to the series. The series is directed by Shona Rhimes, the famous creator of “How to get away with murder” and “Grey's Anatomy” and owner of the production company Shondalanda.

The female talent, first of the writer and then of the director, gave birth to a real world phenomenon. But what is the reason for all this success? The plot is certainly not that of Inception, in the eyes of many it could even seem trivial, how can the constantly increasing consensus be explained then?

The plot: passions, intrigues and mysteries

Bridgerton is a costume story set in the nineteenth century. The series catapults us into the mysterious and equally cruel London high society of the time. The protagonist? Daphne, eldest daughter of the noble Bridgerton family, looking for a husband. The girl is not satisfied with a marriage of convenience but wants a sentimental relationship based on mutual esteem and sincere affection and for this, she will have to face the limitations of Anthony, her protective older brother, as well as head of the family following the departure of the father.

To add pepper to the story appears a mysterious writer: Lady Whistledown, source of all the gossip about the protagonists. The rebellious Duke of Hastings, an apparently arrogant young man, endowed with great charm and a refusal for the institution of marriage (due to the vicissitudes of his childhood), for his relationship with Daphne, founded first on mutual convenience and then on dazzling passion, he will also be in the sights of the secret writer.

 
 
 
 
 
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One episode leads to another

Bridgerton episodes are like popcorn, even if they are not your favorite dish, if you try one, it will be hard to stop. You will not be able to avoid binge watching and after a day you will already find yourself typing on Google “When will the second season come out?”. There are 8 episodes, a short number for a series, but the impression will be that of watching a single long and intriguing film.

 
 
 
 
 
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The need for a happy ending

After a year like 2020 and a global pandemic that has put us to the test and that, due to its heaviness, has left its aftermath even in the often neglected mental health, it is natural and human to seek a light leisure, the telling of a story not challenging and simple emotions.

So why not catapult into another era, exploring its whims, feelings, limits, vices, differences and customs? Bridgerton satisfies this common desire for a happy ending, the problems are clear, but they are portrayed as surmountable and this is a relief for the viewer.

 
 
 
 
 
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The Duke of Hastings

Let's not ignore it, much of the success is due to the beauty of the Duke, the fascinating protagonist. But how many times have we stumbled upon an aesthetically pleasing character who, however, did not receive the same appreciation? Besides the unquestionable outward appearance of the actor Regé-Jean Page, what makes the character he plays so fascinating?

Simon Basset (or Duke of Hastings) is a soft-hearted tough guy with the troubled past of a child seeking paternal approval, a man who has turned his sense of inadequacy into armor. Impossible not to be intrigued by it, or at least to empathize with it, especially if you have the nurse syndrome. And if this same man is willing to change for the better only for his beloved, he is found irresistible.

Here too one could say “well it's the cliché of the beautiful and damned seen and revised”, but what makes Bridgerton original is the continuous contrast between the past and the present, between the age and modernity, analyzing how many things have changed and how many have remained unchanged. Obviously, at the time the restrictions, especially for women, were multiple and for this reason, when Daphne is overwhelmed by the whirlwind of her passion for the Duke, everything is even more new, scandalous and forbidden.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Regé-Jean Page (@regejean)

The soundtrack

A common thread between the past and the present is music. In fact, today's hits have been interpreted in a more classical key, adapting them to ballrooms or to the sumptuous contexts of the nineteenth century.

If, watching some scenes, you happen to hear sounds that are not entirely new, it is because your ears are listening to “thank u next” by Ariana Grande, “Girls like you” by Maroon 5 ft Cardi B, “In my blood” by Shawn Mendes and “Bad guy” by Billie Eilish, all revisited by the violins of the Vitamin String Quartet, an American musical group. Also iconic are the covers of “Strange” by Celeste (feat. Hillary Smith) and “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift reworked by Duomo.

The costumes

Fundamental for any TV series, especially if a period drama like in this case, is the choice of sensational costumes, as an ideal trick to travel through time in a credible way.

The clothes in the series were all handcrafted from original sketches by a team of costume designers led by Ellen Mirojnick, a professional with a respectable experiential background, who has already signed films of the caliber of “The Greatest Showman” and “Maleficent”. He created 7500 different costumes for Bridgerton, subjecting the protagonists to hours of fitting to obtain the best result.

 
 
 
 
 
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In a patriarchal society, female protagonists still have decision-making power

If the Duke is so fascinating, it is also true that he is also thanks to Daphne and the mental attraction between the two. Although she is a "romantic" character and who, in line with her time, has as a primary desire to marry with a good match and have a child, she is still a rather rebellious figure. She is not willing to compromise and is in favor of marriage, only if in love and loved. A luxury, that of choosing, that the women of the time could almost never indulge in. Not surprisingly, her brother Anthony believes it is her duty to decide for her, but in the end she bows to her sister's will.

Lady Whistledown is another courageous female character, albeit with a hidden identity, as female writers (even more so if they were scandalous) were not well regarded. Her way of writing denotes great ability to observe facts and a developed feminine sixth sense.

Then there is Eloise, Daphne's younger sister, perhaps the most contemporary woman in the series, who repudiates conventions and wants to make her dreams come true, receiving a worthy education and fulfilling herself out of that role of mother and wife that society imposes on her.

Siena Rosso, opera singer, proves to have very clear her economic situation, at first she enjoys her relationship with Anthony Bridgerton without hesitation but then, realizing that the latter, of high rank compared to hers, would always have false promises, she decides what's best for her. She understood that that love will not save her, on the contrary it weakens her.

There are Lady Bridgerton who knows how to play cunning to get rid of unwanted characters and Lady Danbury to whom Simon owes everything. Lady Featherington appears ruthless and austere but also pragmatic and concrete, in an attempt to address the problems caused by her husband's irresponsibility.

How not to mention Queen Charlotte, avid reader of Lady Whistledown's chronicles and a real historical figure: Sophia Carlotta of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was in fact the first bi-racial member of the English royal family. Its presence in the series is therefore also important in terms of inclusiveness.

 
 
 
 
 
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Lady Whistledown? An ancient version of Gossip Girl

What do Gossip Girl and Bridgerton have in common? The protagonists of both series are attractive, rich, with lives studded with secrets, passions and torments. The Duke and Daphne create a natural parallelism with Chuck and Blair, always looking for a verbal confrontation but who are inevitably attracted to each other as two opposite poles.

If the main story is precisely that between the Duke and Daphne, however, there are other stories that intertwine at the same time, just like in Gossip Girl, no character is superfluous.

What most unites two apparently different series, however, is the mysterious Lady Whistledown, a writer with a piqued pen, reminiscent of an unscrupulous Gossip Girl. Obviously the first is expressed on paper and the second by text message but the means does not matter if the end is the same, that is to create chaos, disclosing private facts, hiding behind a secret identity.

Who is Lady Whistledown ?! This is the only secret we will never reveal to you in this article ... for now, no spoilers and in the meantime xoxo Bridgerton.

 
 
 
 
 
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