By writing a recap of Netflix Bridgerton, it’s pretty hard not to assume Julie Andrews’ voice in your own mind. She is the voice of Lady Whistledown, after all. And while the true identity of the Scandal Sheet scribbler was not revealed until the eighth and final episode of Season 1, in many ways Andrews’ storytelling sets the tone for this premium version of Gossip Girl.
The first chic opus, “Diamond of the first water”, opens at the start of the social season in the Regency era in London around 1813. Two families are immediately presented. There’s the very handsome Bridgerton Clan with their eight beautiful daughters and step sons and their adorable widowed mother, Viscountess Violet Bridgerton (played by Ruth Gemmell). His eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) is served, uh, present, For the wedding. While his oldest son, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), is shown getting hurt with his soprano singer girlfriend, Siena (Sabrina Bartlett), on the side of a tree. Needless to say, this guy is not the type to get married.
Anthony’s bare ass is on display and it’s barely three minutes into the series. He is shown again later when he and Siena go there for the second time. Sure, the later episodes are a lot hotter, but it’s safe to say that the couple’s outdoor lovemaking serves as an early warning that this is not a family show.
The Featheringtons are the second family to note. There is the patriarch Baron Featherington (Ben Miller) and his demanding wife Baroness, Portia (Rome‘s Polly Walker), who is keen to marry their three daughters – Philipa (Harriet Cains), Prudence (Bessie Carter) and Penelope (Nicola Coughlan). Poor Prudence’s corset is tied so closely that she passed out in front of the queen (Golda Rosheuvel). Things only get worse for the Featherington girls when their prettier and more mysterious cousin Marina (Ruby Barker) comes to stay with them and attracts gangs of suitors. Unfortunately for Marina, a fiancée spent with her ex-boyfriend seals her destiny as a mother and increases her need to get married quickly to avoid social shame.
Daphne, whose jaw-dropping white gown, train, and tiara make her feel like she’s going to her own wedding, goes much better at the royal court and Queen Charlotte declares her unmatched this season. It turns out to be both a blessing and a curse after a rather critical and hypocritical Anthony scares off all of Daphne’s most eligible suitors. Things are getting so dire, in fact, that an older, lustful Nigel Berbrooke (Jamie Beamish) remains Daphne’s best and only option.
But not so fast. Anthony’s friend from college, Simon Basset (Rege-Jean Page), flirts with Daphne when she tries to get away from Berbrooke at Lady Danbury’s (Adjoa Andoh) ball. It’s here that Daphne learns that Simon is the Duke of Hastings, but she’s not impressed with his title. There is an undeniable zing between the two and Daphne and Simon move away, wondering about the other. Although Chris Van Dusen created the show, which was adapted from the hugely popular Julia Quinn Bridgerton series of books, Shonda Rhimes is an executive producer. So fans of the prolific producer can expect a lot of romantic chemistry between Daphne and Simon, and a lot of racial inclusion. The issue of race is touched on briefly in Episode 2 and more in depth in Episode 4, presumably to silence opponents who might prefer the white versions of Simon, Danbury, Marina and the Queen’s book. Or maybe not. Pish Posh.
Back to the series premiere. Thanks to Whistledown’s scathing but separate observations of Daphne and Simon, and the writer’s audience who dared a matchmaker to pair Simon with one of the waiting women, Danbury and Viscountess Violet hatched a plan to put in place young people. The plan also works because it brings Simon and Daphne together again, this time at Bridgerton’s dinner table with Simon and Daphne verbally on top of each other at every turn. Ooh! Peep that sexy chemistry!
As the two meet a third time, Simon runs to save Daphne from a handsome Nigel. But Daphne is quite able to fend for himself and gives Nigel a two-piece and a cookie with his satin-gloved fists. The first episode ends with Simon hatching a dastardly plan where he and Daphne pretend to fall in love so that Whistledown and all the thirsty mothers of the nobility will leave him alone and all the singles will want Daphne more. The two co-conspirators walk hand in hand towards the dance floor, and the fireworks in the background aren’t the only sparks revelers can happily watch.
What did you think about Bridgertonfirst part?