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Thursday, August 5, 2021

it's Getting Hot in Herre! | guest post from Miss Eliza

Bridgerton. We couldn't very well discuss anything Regency this year without talking about the Rege-Jean Page -shaped elephant in the room. (And we will be talking about it again later this month...). Miss Eliza from the blog Strange and Random Happenstance joins us today to talk about the phenom that set Netflix aflame, and whether its really the Jane-substitute we seek...

Bridgerton is a Technicolor dream, a Cherry Tree Lane fantasia on crack. While watching one can’t help wonder if the production designer left nary a fake flower in the entirety of this “sceptered isle…this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.” And this is where my issues began. Now I won’t begrudge anyone who burns for RegĂ©-Jean Page, I get it. He’s perfection. My problem is that Bridgerton, as a whole, isn’t. For the longest time I couldn’t put my dissatisfaction into words. Everyone loves the show; it’s continuously in the top ten, its sparked interest in Regency England not seen since the days when Colin Firth emerged from a lake, and its gotten people reading other authors who write in the Regency era whom I adore. So I should be happy right? I’m far from an Austen purist, so why couldn’t I just embrace Bridgerton? Recently I was watching another show, Search Party if you must know, and the character played by Josh Reynolds starts working at a knockoff amusement park called Merry Merry Land. This is the kind of theme park that is in smaller tourist’s destinations all over. They are peopled with off-brand characters that vary from Disney characters just enough to avoid a lawsuit. In fact, these parks give off a similar feeling to the one I experienced the one and only time I went to Six Flags Great America. Sure, it’s an amusement park, but not the one you want to be at. And that was my eureka moment! This explained perfectly my inability to embrace Bridgerton. Why embrace this romance with Regency trappings when I could go for the genuine article!?! 

 There are so many wonderful adaptations out there that Bridgerton doesn’t even come close. In this Merry Merry Land there’s no Mickey Mouse for you, or Mr. Darcy as the case would be. To take it further, we don’t even get licensed music or a memorable score, just Muzak covers of popular songs which they are going to regret using years from now when they lose the rights to them. In other words, just what you’d expect at a subpar amusement park, some eighties song that will get in your head for days and you won’t know where it came from. This adaptation doesn’t do Jane Austen or even Julia Quinn any favors! I mean, Julia Quinn would probably disagree because her book sales have skyrocketed, but her books are so good and this just isn’t that. All my problems are in the production, the lack of hats when outdoors, Simon never having a cravat, seventeen year old Eloise being played by a thirty-one year old with a husky voice! The other casting is spot on; I just wish everything else just didn’t reek of a disappointing Jane Austen fantasy theme park. In other words, what I wanted was Austenland. Because there they knew what conventions they were breaking and they were having fun. They didn’t end up with something that felt like they tried too hard and fell short. There it felt real, it felt genuine, and they had licensed music! For use Janeites it’s a weird experience when pop culture becomes aware of Regency England. I feel like I’m constantly there with a “but” on my lips. And yes, I know how that sounds. And yes, I know it fits in with some things that happen on screen in Bridgerton. But I just wanted something more for all of us. I wanted a true magical kingdom. And for some people, this is it. But not for me. I’ll be over here trying to catch Mr. Nobley’s eye. I hear he lives with Neve Campbell for the time being…
Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
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  1. I've read the first book in Julia Quinn's series, but I've never watched Bridgerton. I heard it has to be taken as fantasy of the series so it's interesting that you compared it to a knock-off fantasy fun park. ;) Appreciate getting your perspective, Miss Eliza!

    1. Personally, I wish I'd stuck with the books, there's more humor and fun!

  2. Thank you for this post. I am now intrigued by this. I do not have access to Netflix, but I will read the books instead.

    1. And you will be getting the better experience! They are wonderful and romantic and funny and snarky!

  3. I liked the show but perhaps it helps that I have never read the books so I didn't have the comparison. The characters I enjoyed the most was Anthony and Penelope so I look forward to watching the seasons that will focus on them.


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