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Storytelling School

Why the Bridgertons is a very good series

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015 she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod,, after which she created a course called "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" based on it. Over 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by education, she quickly masters new areas. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in movies/serials, and writes about it in her project's blog.
At the end of 2020, a novelty of our streaming platform Netflix appeared. And this novelty came out completely different from the series characteristic of this platform. Fans have become accustomed to sharp-as-nails movie novels in dark colors with deep dramatic lines and unexpected twists and turns.

Almost all Netflix series have murder, mystery, personal dramas for each of the characters, lots of LGBT people, discrimination based on skin color. But in this series, the emphasis is quite different - everything is bright, unhurried, and no one seems to be murdered. At first glance. And the whole series looks more like a romance novel with a lot of erotic scenes.

So why did Netflix produce a series like this?
What did it want to tell us?

Factual Background
The Bridgertons is a Netflix series about early 19th-century England, but set in a much more modern way than Jane Austen's novels. It centers on the enviable bride Daphne, the eldest sister of the 8 Bridgertons, and the proud and prejudiced Duke of Gania, who has promised her tyrant father not to continue their line.

Beginning as a couple and pursuing their own goals, they of course fall in love with each other. In addition to their line, the series develops several parallel stories about love, family and feminism.
Original?) The platform regulars were confused. It seems, for a historical series, there are too many inaccuracies - and the elite are black, and the dresses are the wrong cut. And the jewelry is from the '90s. If this is a drama, then why do we see most of the plot as a young person stubbornly getting married first and then getting pregnant just as stubbornly? And most of the conversation and action revolves around these two themes?

Where are the murder weapons, otherworlds, dragons, well, childhood rape, after all? Because soap operas, it seemed to everyone, were left somewhere on the Russia channel in 2005. And then bam - and Netflix shows us something too about love.

So why was this series released in 2020/21, in defiance of current fashion? And why is it a good series?

First of all, in spite of the setting, this is a series about our time. It does not claim to be historical or authentic at all. No, on the contrary, it creates a fictional reality, showing how it could have been, if it could have been.

Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" with "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" and Netflix's "Hollywood" choose roughly the same path, but true moviegoers have far fewer questions for them. Because there can be no questions to Tarantino at all, even if Hitler burned down in a movie theater in France and a young pregnant actress stays alive, well, in "Hollywood" everything is okay with drama and rape.

In "The Bridgertons," the whole conflict is built on the construction of one's personal happiness, which, by the way, is sometimes a much more pressing problem than those raised in the other series.

. But in parallel, while talking about the establishment of the family home, he also mocks the customs of early 19th century England. The clucking of mothers around debutantes who want to marry by all means. The hubbub of young sons who listen to no one around them and do not hear each other, but who are going to settle all the most insignificant matters in a duel.
It is a satire on a time of regency. A grotesque love affair. A fanfic, if you will.
That is exactly how it should be perceived. Of course, no one seriously tells us that marriage is the highest goal in life. And no young lady can be so preoccupied with this goal. We are deliberately magnified by the reactions of the characters in order to show the comicality of the situation.

Gossip and cancel culture

The show's narrator, Lady Whistle Down (I suspect she translates as "The Whistleblower"), is a kind of "Regency-era Gossip Girl. She publishes a little pamphlet three times a week, savoring all the details, telling the latest gossip. Naturally, everyone at court reads it, and everyone wonders who the Lady is.

Do you remember the TV series "Gossip Girl"? It came out when there was still no Instagram, and the entire elite of Manhattan were just as likely to find out news appearing on a particular source - a website. And before there were websites and television, people had been finding out the latest news from newspapers for centuries.
Let's rewind and find that this Lady Whistle Down is simply the counterpart of modern social media. She sings dithyrambs one day, and can absolutely bring you down for any transgression so low that your reputation will never rise from its knees again.

It's the same thing the social media crowd is doing these days. You can become mega-popular with just one virulent post, or you can get so hated that you're going to be a pain in the ass. Hence the cancel culture, when a person is subjected to general harassment for a transgression that was often committed a long time ago or even simply taken out of context.

How far have we gone from the very society where being alone with a man (not a brother or a husband) was considered a disgrace for a girl?
Maybe now we just condemn other transgressions, but remain just as categorical?

And another important point to "think about" - this Lady Whistle Down ends up being a heroine who is nothing like her - deep and sensitive, while the "secular chronicler" is cruel and sharp-tongued. Isn't this our social networking phenomenon, where you can write anything you want about any blogger's life and new hair color while on the Internet, hiding your identity behind a mask of anonymity?

Same old feminism

Of course, the series is not devoid of a current agenda - many of the characters (including the main eager-to-be-married Daphne) suspect that they were created for something more than marriage and childbearing. Daphne's sister Eloise is very stubborn about feminism and independence, she plays detective and wants to study, not waltz with suitors.
Many of the women chosen by the male protagonists earn their own living, which is unthinkable by the standards of the time, and look very happy in doing so. And, most interestingly, all the decisions in the series end up being made by women (even the same Daphne takes matters into her own hands and turns out to be the smith of her own happiness). The country, too, is ruled by the Queen, not the King. A very modern agenda.

The LGBT theme, however, is not fully explored, with only one and very sensitive sex scene between two men, though usually Netflix diverges much more. But we think that in the next seasons the same-sex love will take its toll.

Black Elite

Oddly enough, there is a very logical explanation, which Lady Danbury gives: "We were all divided into whites and blacks until the king chose one of us," and since then high society has been so diverse.

What's cool is that no attention is paid to this at all. That is, it's as if everything is supposed to be like this, there is no discrimination, no conflict on this basis. And so, without focusing on the problems of people of color, the show says to us better than any other film about discrimination, "Look, we're all the same. And if we had realized that earlier, we might not have noticed it by now.

What happens after marriage

One of the coolest things is that it doesn't end with "happily ever after," but just the opposite, showing that "happily ever after" requires more work and more work. The central problem of the series may be more urgent than many people think - because of old grudges the Duke does not want to have children, and he can neither get over it, nor discuss it properly with his wife (visiting psychologists was apparently not fashionable then).

That is, in fact, we face the problem of communication and reconciliation in marriage, of which, for some reason, very little is said. Although, in fact, these are the problems that almost everyone faces. As opposed to encountering a parallel universe, for example.

And a separate pleasure is the abundance of eroticism and bed scenes, as befits the tradition of love affairs. It is as if we have finally been shown everything that was only hinted at before. Here the hero and the heroine languidly look at each other - and here they are already lying in bed after the act.
No, that's not the way it's going to be! All kinds of pleasures, more than once, and far more than one minute at a time. We'll encounter discovering female sexuality, losing virginity, living the honeymoon, and building trust as a couple. Is this interesting to you? I am, because I'm close to the ideas of femininity, family peacemaking, and harmony of compromise. Or maybe I'm just in a marriage).
To summarize: you don't have to treat this show as a super-serious movie, which now just shows you the whole underbelly of our society. Or the underbelly of society two centuries ago.

No, it's a fairy tale! An adaptation of a novel, of which, by the way, there are 7 more in this series (by the number of Bridgerton siblings), so maybe we'll see many more seasons and themes raised.

This is a holiday series. Bright, festive and light, so that we don't have to think every minute about the corruptibility of existence, but just relax and enjoy the picture. Well, yes, there are dragons in other shows - and we accept this fictional reality just fine. So why are we so embarrassed by a black queen in the 19th century?

This is the modern world, where a lot of fictional realities exist around us and lead us to think one way or another. And we create those realities.