The eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family look for love and happiness in London high society. Inspired by Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels.
The eight Bridgerton siblings, unfortunately named in alphabetical order by age – i.e. Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, etc. – are coming of age and on the hunt for love in Regency-era London. At least, Daphne Bridgerton is. The eldest Bridgerton daughter has been named the diamond of the season – the ton’s greatest catch. Every man in town is trying to claim his stake. Meanwhile, Simon Bassett has finally returned to town after his father, the Duke’s, death. The newest Duke of Hastings is a sexy piece of high-ranking man meat, so every mama of the ton is trying to get him to marry their daughter. In an attempt to get everyone off their backs, Simon and Daphne pretend to be courting–but we all know how fake dating turns out in the end.
Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton
Younger fans might recognize Phoebe as Josh’s Irish girlfriend. I tried not to let my dislike of that character muddy my impressions of Daphne but HAHA too late, because I also read the books and Daphne sucks. Phoebe makes her marginally more likable, but overall, I found Daphne to be the least exciting part of this whole show.
Rege-Jean Page as Simon Bassett
Can you believe this man has the AUDACITY to be this fine?! Rege-Jean Page plays the newest Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett, who has to be this sexy for us to not roll our eyes at his insistence that he won’t marry or have children because his dead dad was mean to him. This was my first time seeing Rege-Jean in anything, though fans spotted his face in a Harry Potter movie. One can only hope he’ll be cast in EVERYTHING now, I mean, look at him.
Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington
I loved Nicola as Penelope so much that I finally started watching Derry Girls just for her! In Bridgerton, she plays Eloise’s best friend who has had a long-standing crush on Colin Bridgerton, and whose mother insists on dressing in hideous yellow colors. You’ll root for her SO HARD.
Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton
If the show’s seasons follow the order of the books, eldest Bridgerton Anthony will probably be the focus of next season’s storyline. Anthony is a bit of a rake who has so far managed to avoid taking on his familial responsibilities to marry and produce an heir. But I bet that changes soon! Jonathan Bailey has credits in Doctor Who, Broadchurch, and tons of West End theater.
Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton
The show’s other MVP, Claudia plays 16-year-old Eloise, best friend to Penelope, who cannot imagine why all these people are jumping over themselves to get married. Eloise becomes dead-set on finding out WHO is behind the Lady Whistledown Scandal Sheet and HOW babies are made. Though her filmography is already lengthy, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of Claudia in the future.
Polly Walker as Lady Featherington
I pulled up IMDB the moment I saw Lady Featherington’s face, because she’s one of those actresses that you know you know from somewhere but you can’t quite put your finger on it. TBH, IMDB didn’t help much. I think she just has a really memorable face and a lot of acting credits from the 1990s.
Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury
Andoa is one of those British stage and screen actors who has been in a little bit of everything, including Invictus and Doctor Who. In Bridgerton, she plays Lady Danbury, the best friend of Simon Bassett’s deceased mother and a mother-type figure to him. And yes, she CAN pull off a velvet top hat, thankyouverymuch.
Julie Andrews as the voice of Lady Whistledown
Our good bitch Julie Andrews is the Gossip Girl of Regency romance. We may not see her face, but the one and only Queen of Genovia narrates the show as the voice behind London’s hottest scandal sheet/gossip rag, Lady Whistledown. And she’s got the tea on EVERYONE.
(There are SO MANY MORE familiar faces in this show, but the days are short and our photo uploader is slow, so I’ll keep things brief.)
Couch-Sharing Capability: Cozy
Listen, Bridgerton has some seriously sexy sex scenes, including one sex montage that feels both too long and not long enough. *ahem* Here’s who I don’t recommend watching it with: Your mom. Your dad. Your in-laws. Any aunts, uncles, or grandparents. Brothers. Your boss. Casual acquaintances. Your pastor or any member of the clergy. Keep your watch party cozy – we’re in a pandemic after all. Or better yet, watch alone to keep the em-bare-ass-ment factor low.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Low
I assure you, if you are even remotely drunk, there is NO WAY you’re going to be able to tell the three oldest Bridgerton boys apart. I couldn’t do it sober. Plus, you’ll want to be coherent enough to pick out the modern day pop songs adapted into classical music for the soundtrack. (I’m looking at you, violin version of Wildest Dreams during a sex scene in the rain.)
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Hopeful Trailblazer
Full disclosure: I hated these books. Many of us at FYA did, and we talked about how much we disliked them at length during last year’s Grown-Up Guide to Romance Novels. (Read more on that here.) So when it was announced that Shonda Rhimes was behind a Netflix adaptation, we were both excited that someone was FINALLY giving us the big-budget Regency romance TV show we’d been longing for, but also disappointed that of all the great series to choose from, it was this one. We were watching with one eye closed, but are there better hands to be in than Shonda’s? The production team managed to make the men sexier, the women funnier, the sets and costumes lovelier, though they weren’t able to do much for That One Scene That Made Me Want To Throw The Book Across The Room. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s an article about it, just beware of spoilers.
Overall, the show is an easily bingeable, eight hours of eye candy. And yes, I need season two immediately. But more than anything, my hope is that Bridgerton‘s wild success on Netflix will have Hulu, Prime, and HBO Max scrambling to adapt other beloved romance novels. (My personal wishlist includes Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflowers series, anything by Sarah MacLean, or Beverly Jenkins’ Destiny series.) If anything, it’s the perfect show to watch during February, the month of all things romance.