In Review

Bridgerton review: where Jane Austen meets Dallas

What the critics think of Netflix’s regency romance

“Sharp-witted, sexy but never sentimental”, Netflix’s new regency romance, Bridgerton, is just the kind of “bingeable” television we need right now, said Sarah Hughes in The Daily Telegraph

Adapted from Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels, it centres on an aristocratic family of eight children – the Bridgertons – as they negotiate the “treacherous waters” of the London season. It’s like Jane Austen, then, but with less concern for “the (often bitter) realities of life”. 

The first series focuses on the beautiful Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and the eligible Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page). They make an “appealing” pair – but all the characters – including Julie Andrews’s narrator – are “fully imagined”.

The series “feels about as English in spirit as Dallas”, said Ed Cumming in The Independent, and shows scant concern for historical accuracy. But that’s fine: it’s only supposed to be frothy fun. 

Still, I didn’t go for it, said Hugo Rifkind in The Times. The colourblind casting gives it “a bit of swagger”. But generally, it “falls between various stools” – “not stolid enough to be Downton Abbey, not sexy enough to be Harlots” – just empty-headed nonsense dreamed up “by people who live in California”. 

The first season of Bridgerton is streaming on Netflix

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