My immediate reaction to seeing the trailer was that it immediately reminded me of Jane Eyre (which is my favorite novel of all time), and a lot of the books in the playable novel app Choices, which I spent a lot of the Summer playing. I just had to check out the series that seemed to capture so much of the drama and intrigue that many of the stories of this era and genre contain.
WARNING! Spoilers ahead! If you have not seen this episode yet, please turn back now. I basically give a play by play of the episode before giving my thoughts on it.
Episode one begins with the narrator (Julie Andrews) introducing the setting for the show. It is 1813 in London. The narrator introduces the main “contenders” in the social season to us. They are; Philipa, Prudence, and Penelope Featherington and Daphne Bridgerton, accompanied by scenes of the characters getting ready to be presented to the queen, who’s approval or disapproval will effect the status of the presentee.
The star of the series is Phoebe Dynevor portrays Daphne Bridgerton. Daphne gains the Queen’s approval, getting a “flawless” rating from her. This set up the series drama arc, as all eyes are on Daphne and the Bridgertons.
The next scene shows Lady Whisteldown’s gossip column being distributed. The one positive for Daphne was that she was named as the favorite of the social season. The Featheringtons are not so thrilled about Daphne’s favorability, who were not so admired or approved by the queen.
My favorite Featherington has got to be Penelope, she is the nice one out of the family and seems to hate them and the social season as much as the rest of us. I feel she may turn out to be a friend rather than a foe in the end.
We are then introduced to Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), who is the man who will catch Daphne’s eye at the opening ball at the Danbury house. I automatically love these two characters, especially Lady Danbury. I can tell she is gonna be a fun character, though the fear she may turn out to be the bad guy is eating at me. Hoping I am wrong.
The ball, features drama, gossip, dancing, romance, and pretty ball gowns as well as some scheming. All eyes turn to to Daphne as she walks in (Yikes! No pressure or anything here). Her brother, Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), plays defense with her potential suitors. Daphne, on the other hand seems to want to make decisions on her own.
Duke Basset arrives, immediately hounded by many lady suitors, as they clamor for his attention and admiration. Meanwhile, Daphne wonders off on her own, allowing her to run into Duke of Hastings. The cliche introduction, in any romance movie ensues.
The episode moves on to show gentleman callers visiting Marina Thompson, as Daphne waits without any callers. Her favor is dwindling and deflating, in turn causing Miss Bridgerton to crumble under the pressure.
It appears as though Lady Danbury is a friend and ally to the Bridgertons, though. Perhaps she will prove in future episodes, to be helpful to them in the coming months, as we see her scheme with Lady Bridgerton to get Duke Basset to dinner at the Bridgerton household.
Meanwhile, Anthony has had a change of heart and now has set up marriage of Daphne and Nigel. While Duke Basset and Daphne form an alliance to silence Lady Whistledown. The all too familiar fake relationship to stop everyone from trying to medal set up. We all know where this is going, and you know what, I want it. This is because to the majority of the first episode is spent to get the emotional investment in the characters and their stories so rooting or jeering happens appropriately.
I really, really, truly do want to like Anthony, though he makes it difficult to do so. I do hope that future episodes redeem him. The standard, protective brother turned man-of-the-house story arc is cliche, and boring, yet unfortunately fits the story. However, his turn seemed extreme and perhaps too sudden. Only time will tell if he will become less irritating. My thought is that he will only continue to meddle in his sister’s life.
The series is perfect for anyone who loves this genre. Although, predictable and cliche, the series leaves me fully invested. The chemistry between Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor is off the charts and the emotional investment is real.
Stay tuned for next week’s review of episode two.