Ask the Grumpies: What do you think about the Netflix series Bridgerton

Lady E asks:

I would love to read your review of Bridgerton on Netflix! I would be here for a full breakdown of your thoughts. I just binged the whole season, and am wondering how the show compares to the books (if you’ve read them)? Are the books worth my time if I need my next Bridgerton fix?

We were not aware of the series, so we can’t give any reviews.  #1 is still several seasons behind on Psych (which ended in 2014!) and has difficulty watching anything longer than 20 minutes, so you would probably have to wait until her kids are both in college to get a review of the series.  #2 generally prefers books to video adaptations.

In terms of the books… Some Julia Quinn books are decent, but overall she tends to have this problem where she has a strong start and then it just kind of peters out near the end.  She does not stick endings.  I think she writes under time pressure and doesn’t take the time to think or smooth out the endings and she doesn’t have an editor willing/able to fix them.  She also has a lot of problematic “attempted rape as a plot device” tropes which are meh.  She’s not one of my “must buy” or even “must check the library for” authors.  I think I last read one of her books ~5 years ago and just kind of gave up on her after several duds in a row from the library.  According to romancelandia, she’s one of the writers that (IMO better) writers grew up loving.

I asked a friend who has more time.  She said they have a lot of on-screen sex… talking about sex is the reason DH and I are so behind on Big Bang Theory because it has been a few years since the in-laws took our kids for a week while we were at home.  DC1 is old enough for BBT now, but not for watching on-screen intercourse with hir parents in the room.  DC2 is not old enough for either.  Bridgerton and this question will likely be long-forgotten by the time the youngest is out of the house.

Anyhow, here is her review, via text:

It was meh.  No rape.  Plenty of sex but not so much that I stopped watching.  Lots of dancing and courting– a little boring.  Like, my main complaint is that not enough happens.  IMO there is nothing deep there to comment on.  I like hearing Julie Andrews’ voice.  I guessed correctly who the gossip writer is.  The male lead is supposed to be damaged and complicated but he makes me roll my eyes.  The female lead is sweet and pretty uncomplicated.  There were no characters with enough depth for me to really fall in love with or feel any affinity for anyone.  That’s all I’ve got.

I know romance twitter was pretty excited when Bridgerton was announced, especially with Shonda Rhimes involved (and lots of articles about how regency romances are not real in any sense of the word and yes there were plenty of not-white people in regency England so don’t be a racist bigot).  They think the Duke is hawt.  But since the series has come out I haven’t seen any commentary other than a cut of the Duke being hot set to Cardi B’s WAP.  Oh, and apparently episode 6 is really questionable about consent, though my friend didn’t find it problematic.  It could be that they’re underwhelmed but don’t feel like saying anything since they love Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes, or, more likely, they’re busy with their own deadlines after saving the future of US by helping to fund Stacy Abrams.

Here’s a commentary on the costumes … and a lot of other stuff too (spoilers!):

Grumpy Nation, what do you all think about the Bridgerton series?  Which Julia Quinn books do you recommend, or what would you recommend for fans of the series?

10 Responses to “Ask the Grumpies: What do you think about the Netflix series Bridgerton”

  1. Steph Says:

    I have not watched Bridgerton, since my period-drama hyperfocus from last year has switched over to sci fi. But we must follow very different people on twitter. I know some romance folks were very excited about it, but I also saw a lot of discussions about how problematic it was. There was a lot of debate about whether the female MC raped the male MC, and black women in particular felt like it failed for them

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I mostly just follow Courtney Milan, KJ Charles, and the people they retweet. There was excitement before it came out and pretty much silence after. (Other than that WAP video and episode 6 being questionable about consent.)

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  3. revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

    I also saw a big flurry before it came out and then a lot of commentary on that questionable episode where people found it very problematic as Steph noted. I know a handful of people who enjoyed it except for that part.

  4. Haley Says:

    I made it through 3 episodes, just meh. Take away the sex and I doubt many people would be talking about it. Plot lines feel very soap opera-ish and zero thought is required to follow along. Costumes are impressive though.

  5. bethh Says:

    The netflix series was fine. I think the lack of discussion is a symptom of a larger cultural BLAH we’re all in – I really haven’t noticed anyone talking about any pop culture items for very long.

    I read the books and they were all right for a library borrow. She relies a bit too heavily on ladies getting mad and punching gentlemen. Once in a whole series .. maybe. But she does it more than that (closer to once per lady/book).

  6. RS Says:

    I couldn’t watch after first episode. found it too superficial. Instead, I really enjoyed watching “Shtisel” on Netflix. can’t wait for the third season to come. Lovely hearty story of an orthodox Jewish family set in Jerusalem. Its very humane and relatable.

  7. First Gen American Says:

    I watched it but I always think of sex scenes as a filler/cop out for not having a better story line. If they spent all that soft porn time on character development it would have been great.

  8. EB Says:

    It’s not really a Regency story; it’s a 2021 story with Regency costumes and a more rigid social hierarchy. Really, there are lots of movies that show a more realistic view of the period. Complete with bad teeth, poor health, dark rooms, women dying in childbirth, and so forth. Plus more realistic depictions of non-upper class people.

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