Netflix has found success in the costume drama department in the last few months. From The Crown to The Queen’s Gambit, the streamer’s biggest series this fall have been period pieces with memorable leading ladies. This holiday season continues the trend with a brand-new show for which Netflix has spared no expense: Bridgerton. The series puts the costume in costume drama with some 7,800 outfits over eight episodes and a love story to melt your heart. But despite the historical nature of the series, Bridgerton isn’t based on a true story. It is, however, based on a book series.
Warning: Spoilers for Bridgerton Season 1 follow. The Bridgerton series is based on a set of nine novels by romance author Julia Quinn. It was the fourth series Quinn had written. But unlike most romances, in which every series takes place in a separate world, all of Quinn’s novels are connected in some way. They exist, for lack of a better term, in a single Quinn-created Regency Universe. The same side characters keep popping up in every story, from the dressmaker who creates society’s gowns to Lady Danbury ruling over their ballrooms.
But even though this is a detailed universe, none of these people exist in real life. There is no Duke of Hastings, for instance, nor is there a titled family with Basset as a last name. (There is a noble Hastings line, which still exists today, but Bridgerton is legit a work of fiction.) Likewise, there is no titled Bridgerton family; though there are 270 or so Viscount titles in the UK today, none of them are The Right Honourable Bridgerton family.
Instead, this series is the dramatization of a fantasy version of Regency England, starting with Quinn’s novel The Duke & I. Published in 2000, it is the first of the Bridgerton series, diving into the Bridgerton family from the middle, chronicling the story of the fourth-born child and eldest daughter, Daphne. The Netflix show changes things up a bit, making this Daphne’s first season out in society. In the novels, she’s been out and failing to snag a husband for a while. But the outcome is the same: the newly returned Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset, agreeing to a ruse with her. By pretending they are madly in love, Daphne will become more desirable to other suitors, while the debutantes’ mothers will leave Simon alone, thinking him taken.
As for where potential further seasons may go, there is plenty of material. In Book 2, the Bridgerton series circles back to the rest of the family, starting in order by age. The Viscount Who Loved Me is the story of Daphne’s eldest brother, Anthony, and his quest to settle down and produce a family heir. Second son Benedict then follows his brother down the aisle in An Offer From A Gentleman, and Colin comes after them in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton.
By the end of the fourth book, enough time has elapsed that the younger Bridgertons are old enough to start falling in love themselves. As for who all of Daphne’s siblings wind up with, fans will have to either read the books or wait for later seasons to find out.
Bridgerton Season 1 is on Netflix now.
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