Hello hello, and welcome to Episode 18 of LIfe On the Brink!
Today we're talking about BRIDGERTON. Perhaps you’re like me (and SO many others) and have absolutely flown through this Netflix series. It was just so lovely and colorful and romantic and fun and dramatic, I think you get my point. So now that it’s done, I think a lot of you might be looking for something similar to add a lovely little spark to your day or week.
To that end, today, I am sharing lots of shows and movies and books and other little miscellaneous things that I have grown to love, or that I am looking forward to trying in the weeks to come.
So before we get into it, I do want to give a little disclaimer. Maybe Bridgerton wasn't your thing, for one reason or another, and that’s ok!
I know one of the main critiques that has come against this show is that it's so historically inaccurate. However, I personally think that it’s so intentionally inaccurate, so much so that it works. Naturally, no one finished Bridgerton and thought it was actually what it was like in 1813. It's sort of a fantastical version of it. What’s more, this fact is heightened by the inclusion of some modern music, the costumes are so very colorful, and everything is quite romanticised. There are also elements of the show that are historically inaccurate for the sake of the plot or the visual storytelling. Women would never have been able to go to boxing matches and would never wear short-sleeves or have their heads uncovered during the day.
There are also people of color that are in positions of power and wealth, which was not the case in Regency era England. But it does give opportunity to actors who otherwise might not ever have the opportunity to be a part of a period piece like this, and I think it’s beautiful, adding a much-welcomed variety to this historical setting. I hope that it will even continue and grow in the seasons to come.
All this in mind, Bridgerton is clearly set in a sort of Regency fantasy world. But within this world is (in my opinion) a great story that talks about family and friendship and marriage. Plus Julie Andrews narrates it and makes my heart soar.
In no way is this show meant to be an accurate period piece. And I think that is what has made it so appealing. There are people that maybe wouldn't have ventured into some of the things in the list below if they hadn't had a little taste of Regency from this show. Think of it like a Starbucks matcha latte. Is it going to be the best matcha quality? Goodness, no. But it makes a unique tea accessible to people that might not seek it out on their own, and might inspire them to look into it a little more.
So today, we're not going for historical accuracy. The things I’ve included in this list is by no means extensive, but I really wanted to focus on was what I think made this show so addicting: the beauty of the scenery, the buildings, the costumes, the cinematography, the music, and the romance. I’m a firm believer that we don't have to only feed our minds with high art. I think we are allowed to watch something just because we like it, and I think Lady Whistledown would agree.
Ok, if you’ve gotten this far, I’m assuming it’s because you did like the show and are ready for more, so make your tea and let’s get started!
What's in my teacup? A blend of Lidl brand chai black tea and the now-extinct Teavana "samurai chai mate" blend. You can get a copycat of it here.
SHOWS AND LIMITED SERIES:
-Sanditon (2019, PBS Masterpiece). This is probably the closest thing to Bridgerton in terms of time and place, and a great place to start. Set in 1819, this one season is based on Jane Austen’s unfinished final novel. I personally am looking forward to it both for the coastal scenery and for the inclusion of a Miss Lambe, an heiress from Austen’s original manuscript that was clearly described as being of mixed race, and who has been cast in this show by Crystal Clarke, a black actress. I’m here for the diversity. This series is 8 episodes long, though it’s unknown whether PBS plans to extend it into further seasons.
-The Paradise (2012-2013, PBS Masterpiece). I’ve seen this show at least twice and just love it. It takes place a little later in time, around 1875, and takes place in London’s first department store. It has so many beautiful interiors and a touching love story, and even though the show was cancelled after two seasons, I found the ending resolved enough that I continue to recommend it.
-The Great (2020--, Hulu). Ok so this one is a bit more raucous, a little more graphic and dark, but is such a stunning and hilarious show. It’s set during the events leading up to Catherine the Great’s coup and ascension of power in Russia in 1762. This is another show that lets you know right off the bat that there’s a lot of artistic license being taken. One thing’s for sure, the costumes are gorgeous. I mean, the pink dress alone. Also, this show is ongoing, so you have time to catch up on the first season, which only came out last year.
-Downton Abbey (2010-2015, PBS + now available on Peacock). Wow, what a show. There’s a reason it’s so beloved. If you’re a fan of all the intertwining stories going on in Bridgerton, this show is made for you. It’s set 1912-1926 and really showcases the end of the English aristocracy as it existed for centuries. Come for the exquisite costumes, stay for the stories. It’s 6 seasons, plus a movie that was released in 2019, and all of it is gorgeous. I’ve seen it like 3.5 times and will continue to rewatch it forever.
-Gran Hotel (2011-2013, Antena 3). I’ve been facing lots of peer pressure from my family about this series, as I haven’t seen it yet. According to them, it’s like Downton Abbey on steroids, as it’s a Spanish series and contains a lot more drama, backstabbing and so forth. Set in 1906 in Spain, it’s going to be a good one for practicing my Spanish, and might be perfect for you if you need a little more action than Downton affords.
-War and Peace (2016, BBC). This limited series is set from 1805-1812 in Russia and follows Leo Tolstoy’s immortal book. So this one is right around Bridgerton era (set in 1813), but in a different part of the world. Nonetheless, the costumes look divine, and while I’m sure this one is bound to be a little more on the heavier side (with all the war and all), I’m really excited about this one.
-The Crown (2016--, Netflix). Definitely a little different from the rest of this list, but wow the castles. There are so many gorgeous interiors, and the cinematography is so very intentional. This series starts in 1955 and focuses on Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family. I’ve only seen the first two of the four seasons, and two more are on their way. Even though it’s a very different show, it still has that magical addictive quality that Bridgerton has, probably all the tea and beautiful sitting rooms. That’s my guess.
-Emma (2020). Of course, we need to give Jane Austen that which is due, but with so many adaptations of her books, it can be hard to know where to start. This is my first recommendation, as it is absolutely one of the most gorgeous films I've ever seen. The story is so well told, and Emma is an interesting and relatable heroine. She has to go through some real personal growth. Wow, the movie is stunning. You just go ahead and start there.
-Pride and Prejudice (2005). My personal favorite. It has all of that beautiful cinematography that we love, the costumes are lovely, and the music is indescribably beautiful, so suited to the film and the story. Plus, this love story is really sweet and poignant and powerful. Always my #1 when it comes to Austen stories, just buckle up for the romance of the age.
Just a tip, you might need subtitles for it. I watched it recently with Josh and realized that it is kind of hard to understand what they're saying if you don't know what they're going to say already.
-Marie Antoinette (2006). This one is purely for aesthetics, and wow does it deliver. It’s a film that very clearly lets you know it's not even trying to be historically accurate, but it's just so fun. And I mean, spoilers, it's not going to end super well (if you know anything about history, you’re already aware). But all of the scenes of the clothes and the parties and the GARDENS are absolutely stunning. So even if you just want to watch the first two thirds of it just to get inspired, I'm okay with that.
-Little Women (2019). Now, if you listened to Episode 17, you'll know that my sister and I have feelings about this particular adaptation and prefer the 1994 one, but I will say that, because we're here for aesthetics and all of the good feelings today, this movie is beautiful. I love the scenes at the beach and in the woods, and all the color and music choices really make for a truly aesthetic experience. It may not be exactly the same era or type of story as Bridgerton, but if you really enjoyed watching that show because of all of the beautiful scenery, give Little Women a go.
-Cinderella (2015). The reason that I associate this movie with Bridgerton is mostly because of the costumes. I just really love the way that colors can sort of personify or color a character (ahem, Penelope), and there’s a lot of that in this film. There’s a clear fusion of modern fashion and historical styles in the architecture, the scenery, and the costumes, but all are breathtaking. So it just creates this beautiful little smoothie of an aesthetic that really transports you. And with just such a sweet story! I love it.
-The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn. That's right, Bridgerton is based on a series of books! There are eight of them, each one following one of the Bridgerton children as they find their way in the world. The first one, “The Duke and I”, is obviously about Daphne and provides the story for the first season of the show (Just a heads up, the second is about Anthony). Of course, there are people who didn't like the show because they said the book was better, but I liked the show so I’m really excited to read the books!
-Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. While I recommend starting with Emma when it comes to adaptations, the actual book is the longest of Austen’s novels. Instead, I recommend starting with Northanger Abbey, one that is a little shorter but also not as slow-moving as some of the other books. It’s a bit of satire on gothic fiction, and presents it’s own set of twists and turns. And Mr. Tilney is worth every page.
-Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore. Goodreads synopsis:
“She’s a suffragette at oxford who needs to recruit men of influence, and the duke who’s not for it but they dig each other. 1879
England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.”
-Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. Goodreads synopsis:
“Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she'll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.”
-Austenland by Shannon Hale. I personally loved this book (and it’s sequel, and the movie that they made out of it), and it’s perfect for someone who’s completely hooked on these types of books and films. A woman in modern times heads to a 1800’s-style retreat that is completely immersive, complete with suitors and a ball and all that. I don’t want to give away any more than that, but let me tell you that I definitely didn’t see it coming! But also there’s a really cute love story that gives hope to hopeless romantics.
EXTRA LOVELY THINGS:
-The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This is basically a 100 episode web series that tells the story of Pride and Prejudice from a modern-day, self-documentary-style perspective. I’ve seen every episode, along with their second series based on Emma. This series also sparked a Youtube channel called Pemberley Digital that is full of these sorts of retellings of classic books (peep Frankenstein). I just thought it was lovely and super clever.
-A teacup and saucer. Such a simple delight, but completely essential for enjoying these historical stories (in my opinion). If you don’t yet have a teacup of your own, check out this collection or try scouting out antique shops or thrift stores. A cup of tea is always lovely, but drinking it out of a proper teacup just evelates it a little bit. We’re all pretending that we’re there with Daphne a little bit, and the teacup helps with the illusion.
-Lemon lavender shortbread. I found this recipe not long ago and they just look so dreamy. Lavender is such a great flavor all year round, but especially as we head into spring, I think. Something to sit next to the tea.
And there you have it! Hopefully these little delights will help hold you over till season 2 of Bridgerton finally arrives, and maybe introduce you to some new characters and take you to exciting new places.
This Week’s Little Joy: This Little Joy is two-fold. Firstly, we got SNOW. I'm in the Virginia Beach area and we don't see a lot of snow, but in the past week or so it's snowed three times! For me, it's a big deal and I've been loving it. And on top of that, one Sunday morning I was looking out over the snow and spotted five garlic sprouts! I planted it about 2 months ago and have seen no sign of life whatsoever, but then all of a sudden, up through the snow were these little chutes and it made my heart so happy.
What I’m Listening To: This is the official Spotify playlist for Bridgerton, which contains not only the (stunning, emotional) score, but also the string quartet arrangements of modern pieces and a few other classical selections used in the series. Feel free to put on at any time and add a little romance or romanticism to your day.
Dear reader, I hope you are inspired with a mindful of lovely things to watch and read. Feel free to leave a comment with your favorites! Until next time, friends, stay warm and have a lovely week!