Issue 22

The Bridge to Bridgerton

Lakshya Sharma

Why is a 21st-century teenage audience hooked to a Regency-era period drama? What about Bridgerton makes it one of the most popular period dramas of our time? Not just Bridgerton, with Downton Abbey dropping their second movie this summer, and The Crown shooting its fifth season, have period dramas become the new go-to genre?

25th March 2022 was one of the more significant dates in this year’s calendar. We all eagerly waited for the clock to strike the witching hour in PST, and at that stroke of midnight hour, Bridgerton season 2  was unveiled. From Cosmopolitan to TeenVogue, all anyone could talk about was Bridgerton. A period drama set in the Regency Period, dealing with theLord Bridgerton and his quest for marriage, sounds like a posh rom-com. However, the pull Bridgerton has on its audience is unprecedented, setting its name in history. It broke all records, and established itself as a model to look upon. But what sets Bridgerton apart (apart from the adorable dog in the poster)? 

One key element is the time it is set in:The Regency Period. The Regency Period marked the rule of Prince George as a regent for this father, George III who was deemed unfit to rule. Stories around this period are extremely popular because novel ideas around romance, etiquette, and fashion evolved during this time. Moreover, The Queen of Regency, marked an everlasting queendom of this genre over us– Jane Austen. Her work and later adaptations took this era to new heights, and Bridgerton is yet another period drama set in the period and reaping benefits from its big, big, reputation. 

Another element of its popularity is escapism and vibrance. The first season’s release directly preceded a worldwide lockdown. In its beautiful soirees and posh courting, people found a way to relish their own desires. Compared to other period dramas such as Downton Abbey or The Crown, Bridgerton is starkly vibrant. Its colors have a spring-summer vibe, a brightness that allures people to leave their homes and go enjoy the sun. In a situation where that escape was physically not possible, Bridgerton allowed us to enjoy that vibrance from the comfort of our homes, in posh style. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t had a fantasy of a romance, and eloping with their partner to a beautiful palace with gardens and roses. Real life, however, is much more complicated in terms of relationships. Bridgerton reflects on such complexities of love and lust and takes us on a journey with which we relate on a smaller scale. 

Apart from a vibrant setting in The Regency Period, what sets Bridgerton apart is sensuality and sexuality. The show caters to a very large audience which predominantly consists of teenagers. An extremely good looking cast with well-directed intimate scenes keeps the audience “hooked”. Moreover, the intimacy, or lack thereof, transcends sexual relations. The complexities in exploration of father-son relations, hesitence is exploring love, presence of an external parent figure, and above all finding your own way in the world (Yes, that’s for you Lady Whistledown)

Bridgerton offers a sense of exploration and freedom, in the sense that it is free from the nitty-gritties of the English Upper Class even though it is set in that era and period. The works of Lady Whistledown and the courage of the woman impersonating Lady Whistledown provides a sense of hope and suspense. Lady Whistledown’s ability to break down the dogma and create a readership base for her makes her life relatable to many. This relatability stems from her breaking the walls of the dogma around her and coming out as a rebellious figure deciding her own life. This sense of agency that the current viewership of Bridgerton craves is shown by the series keeping its audience hooked.

Not just Bridgerton, but Period Dramas in general are having a comeback. They add glitz and glamor, and transcends us into a dreamesque world of fantasy, color and desire. While making this transition, content creators take facts and make them relatable, fun, and vibrant. Bridgerton is whole, in this sense. It has elements of vibrance, humor, sexuality, desire, and fantasy while still holding relatability and offering escapism.

Lakshya Sharma is a first year undergraduate student at Ashoka University. He is an economics and media studies student. Apart from his academic interests, he has keen interest in writing and fashion.

Picture Credits: The Quint

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

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