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Monday, August 30, 2021

The Bridgerton Effect: A Janeite Roundtable

The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things; of Dukes and hot goss and TV shows; of Netflix and other things...
In other words, it's time for our last Janeite Roundtable Conversation! Today we're taking on the "Bridgerton Effect," and the flood of Austen "updates" that seem to be coming our way (fingers crossed!). I asked:  

With the success of Bridgerton (and the quasi-success of Sanditon), it seems like networks and streaming services are scrambling for the next big Regency hit with a modern or edgy spin, and are of course looking to Austen -- including announcing a new P&P-themed dating show. It promises to be an absolute trainwreck, of course.  But my question is multi-faceted: are you excited for potential modern reimaginings of Austen?  If so, what would you like to see? What do you think would lend itself to a modern interpretation, however loose?

MARILYN: I absolutely laughed out loud when I read about that upcoming P&P-themed dating show!

MISTY: Very much, same.

MARILYN: I know curiosity will get the better of me, so I'm sure to watch at least the pilot episode, but we'll see the results of this particular reality TV experiment... 

MISTY: Even if it's awful, I think I'm in for the duration. Ha!

MARILYN: The thing I appreciate most about having Austen-inspired work in the media is the sheer amount of mainstream coverage it gets and, thus, the way it opens the door to conversations about JA and her novels. 

MISTY: Yes! That's what I'm hoping will be the inevitable result.  Original text-wise, but also movie-wise: we're overdue for a good spate of new adaptations, and I'd love to see some modern takes get the big budget treatment, too!

MARILYN: For some people, there will be little interest in digging deeper into her writing. But for others, it may be the perfect jumping off point, and they might become the newest Austen fans.
Modern reimaginings of Austen are my jam! Much as I enjoy all things Regency, I actively seek out contemporary interpretations because I love seeing Jane's plotlines and character types mingling with the modern world. To me, she's forever relevant and timeless. 

MISTY: And endlessly relatable! All around the world, in any number of cultures, you find people relating to her characters and her insight, and wanting to tell and retell her stories.

MARILYN: Her observations about humans are as true today as they were a couple hundred years ago -- and I'm sure that'll still be so in the future. On an even more personal level, wanting to highlight how applicable JA's insights are to modern life was a major driving force behind my desire to become a novelist. My debut novel According to Jane was almost completely inspired by the hope that I could show how human behavior, especially in pursuit of relationships, is no different now than it was in Austen's time.

CHRISTINA: I could easily see “The Darcy Monologues” anthology becoming a mini/series with each of the stories, regardless of era, being played by the same cast for key characters. 

MISTY: 1) I love that format, and the creativity and range it brings out of actors, and 2) Yes, please! I'm sold!

LONA: I would like to see Mansfield Park in an Asian or East Asian setting. 

MISTY: I want to see an entire series of the books in an Asian or East Asian setting! I love that we're starting to see more diverse takes gain traction.

LONA: I think such an adaptation would work very well. Maybe Sir Thomas Bertram is a sweatshop factory owner in Guangzhou or Bangladesh. 

MISTY: I don't need more reasons to hate him, honestly. But I would love to see the familiar stories and characters and romances play out against new backdrops, with new perspectives and cultures adding depth.

RIANA: I have to confess I’m not a big television-watcher. I’m also a bit cautious of how the networks are re-imagining some of the classics, if we can call Nancy Drew and Archie “classics.” Dark Austen? Is that what’s next? The Ghost of Netherfield Hall? The Phantom Spirits of Longbourn? 

MISTY: I'm honestly not opposed... but then, I'm shameless. And easy! Slap Austen's name on it and I'm in!

RIANA: We have had P&P&Zombies, so there is obviously interest. Still, anything to spread the love gets a thumbs-up from me. I can’t predict what upcoming shows would work well, but I thought The Lizzie Bennet Diaries of a few years back was brilliant. 

MISTY: Truly.

RIANA: The linked vlog posts, Twitter feeds, Pinterest pages, and all that, really came together fabulously to create realistic and relatable characters, while keeping to the gist of the story. If someone can recreate that, it would be amazing.

MISTY: Man! I'm definitely overdue for a rewatch of that series. And Emma Approved!

ALEXA: This isn’t strictly Regency, but I’d really like an historical cookoff show with a literately twist. 

MISTY: You are speaking my language, Alexa!

ALEXA: Maybe one episode challenges contestants to reproduce food from Austen’s novels, like white soup and syllabub. Maybe another episode focuses on Shakespeare, and they could make posset and wild boar. The judges could be a mixture of chefs and historians. It’d be great!


So, friends: what would you like to see? 
And what should we talk about next year? Let me know in the comments. But for now, that's us, signing off on another great year of Janeite Roundtable discussions! 

BIG THANKS to this year's roundtable of contributors:
Alexa Adams, author of The Tales of Less Pride and Prejudice series, et al
Christina Boyd, editor of  The Quill Collective anthology series
Lona Manning, author of the Mansfield Trilogy and the blog series "Clutching My Pearls"
Marilyn Brant, author of Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match, et al.
Riana Everly, author of the Miss Mary Investigates series, et al.

Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
Click here to return to the master list of Austen in August posts!


  1. I do love the energy and excitement of Austen and Regency even laterally. It doesn't have to be spot on the original as long as it is good stuff for me. I'm open to other eras, moderns, and genre mash ups.

    Maybe for a roundtable topic there could be a discussion of 'its not Austen, but has a similar vibe'? If it hasn't already been done.

    Loved the roundtables! Thanks all!

  2. Sign me up, Alexa! Historic food and literary/fandom food is my absolute jam. Speaking of, you might enjoy In Literature: https://www.inliterature.net/

    This Regency-esque dating show is definitely going to be a disaster. We all know modern dating shows are heavily edited to put competitors into roles and to create fictional scenes...in the Regency, you have the men doing physical stuff and the women inside sewing a lot so I expect they'll compensate with way over-the-top drama (lots of closeups of facial expressions, I guess?) or they'll get a few people in there who really don't enjoy the Regency, or Austen, and upend the whole concept. Also, a house party with several bucks and one lady sounds boring. :D

    Love and Friendship was great- more of that Georgian sass, please! I'm down for scifi Austen, too, if someone can please make that in high-production-value/short-TV-season format.

  3. I am excited by the possibility of more adaptations, I just hope they put time and effort into it and don't just slap the name of the characters on a project and call it JA. I've watched a few P&P Hallmark movie adaptations and I thought they were awful so I don't want to see more of these type of adaptations. My absolute favorite thing to see would be a JA-cinematic universe where all the characters live in the same universe and interact with each other.


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