Saturday, May 21, 2022
HomeLaura PerrinsBridgerton: A tale as old as time

Bridgerton: A tale as old as time

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YES, I have been busy. Indeed, there are ‘big issues’ out there and I am here to talk about none of them. I am here instead to direct you to some escapism. And that escapism, dear reader, is the second series of Bridgerton on Netflix. 

Now, if you have come for a cynical take-down of it, you will not find it here. Bridgeton is exquisite. It is a masterpiece and whether they know it or not, it is one of the few things out there that actually deals in the reality of human nature. It deals in some truths that I sense the makers probably spend much of their time denying. But in art, in this series, they seep out. 

First, a quick summary of the first series. It is a simple tale of a tortured and dark soul. The Duke believed he was unworthy of love because of being denied by his father. Could he be saved by the love of a young lady, one who is true, pure, virtuous and of great beauty? Why, of course he can. Truly, it is a tale as old as time. 

Which brings us to the second series. This features the Viscount, the head of the Bridgerton family. Anthony has daddy issues but this time because he lives in the shadow of a beloved and idealised father who died before his time. 

Enter two sisters. The younger, the diamond of the season, is quickly engaged to the Viscount who believes he ‘must marry’ this girl, not because he is in love with her but because she will make a suitable wife. But his heart lies with the older sister, Kate. A classic hate/lust match develops. You know how it ends but it is how they get there that truly entertains. 

What fascinates me is how popular this series is with millennials. 

In an era of swiping right on Tinder, deep down the millennials long for the slow burn of romance, the forbidden glances, the whispers in the library, the barely touching hands. How they long to be courted. How they desire to be desired. 

In a time where all rules are challenged and broken, the millennials are watching a society that obeys the most stringent of social codes. A slight breach could ‘ruin’ a young lady. How they flock to this patriarchal time. 

At a time when corporations fall over themselves to abolish even the announcement of ‘ladies and gentlemen’, this series demarcates the very distinct roles ladies and gentlemen must obey. How the millennials lap it up, even as they ‘state their pronouns’.

At a time when the mainstream media lies constantly and tries to tell you up is down, black is white and men can be women, this series cannot get away from some fundamental truths. The first is that there are men, there are women, they are very different but they are meant to be together. That is why the adults chaperoned the young couples: they knew what would follow if young men and women are left alone. The way that today’s parents think it is fine to leave the youth alone and tanked up with alcohol would have been viewed as completely insane and irresponsible by our wiser Regency period elders. 

The three matriarchs, Lady Danbury, mother Bridgerton and the Queen are fabulous to watch. A critical theme of the series is the plotting and scheming by the matriarchs who relied on some fundamental truths. The first is men and women belong to one another and the second is you have to be careful which man or woman you end up with. 

The matriarchs knew it was their duty to interfere. It was not something to apologise for. They knew the youth needed guidance. Today’s parents seem to fall over themselves to offer the least guidance possible.

Some misguided viewers might think that the casting of minority ethnic actors for a Regency drama makes it ‘woke’. If the characters sat around moaning about how discriminated they were and changed gender by the end of the series that would make it woke. A mere casting decision makes it post-racial. 

Bridgerton is a masterpiece. The acting is beautiful, the writing is powerful. Nothing gets blown up. No one gets stabbed, or takes drugs, or gets murdered. No one swears. Only fireworks explode. And they talk about marriage all the time. I mean, what’s not to like? 

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