Friday, December 25, 2020

REVIEW: 'Bridgerton' - Daphne Enters the World with Lavish Praise Before Meeting Simon in 'Diamond of the First Water

Netflix's Bridgerton - Episode 1.01 "Diamond of the First Water"

Daphne debuts on London's marriage market as a new gossip sheet sets high society atwitter and Simon, the eligible Duke of Hastings, returns to town.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Netflix's Bridgerton.

"Diamond of the First Water" was written by Chris Van Dusen and directed by Julie Anne Robinson

Daphne and Simon don't genuinely like each other. However, they concoct a plan to appear as a couple in order to prove to the society at large that they are what they were previously deemed not to be. Daphne starts on a high note in the marriage market. She earns praise from Queen Charlotte. She is seen as the most desirable young woman amongst the nobility. The longer she stays on the market though the more it seems like something is wrong with her. People start to doubt that she is as desirable as she seemed to be early on. Those high expectations are set for her early and often. She comes from a family that has produced handsome and poised children. The Bridgerton family is respected in society. Moreover, it appears that their mother is genuinely interested in embracing who her children are. Across the street, Lady Featherington just wants to go through the motions of what is expected. Some of her daughters have that same ambition and drive. However, some are quirky and don't see the need for all of this pressure to be placed on them to prove themselves to the world at this point in time. Yes, the narrative highlights the sexist double standards of what is expected of women in this time period. And yet, it presents a radical version of the past as well. The racial politics could be at the forefront of the narrative as well. That could be a tool to discuss desirability while highlighting the heinous views that are still all too common when it comes to interracial relationships. Instead, everyone presents on equal footing. Everyone maintains a core sense of desires. That is refreshing. It presents this world as completely colorful. Simon is seen as the most eligible bachelor in town because of his title and his good looks. He has no interest in engaging with the formality of this entire process. He doesn't want to marry. His life is destined to take him elsewhere. He is given the luxury of making that decision for himself as well. Meanwhile, it's expected for the women to be presented to the queen and deemed acceptable amongst society in order to maintain the titles that have varying degrees of worth. Lady Featherington is annoyed that she has to take in a distant cousin of her husband's. That irritation grows when Marina Thompson captures the hearts of so many. She comes from a completely different world though. One where she had the freedom to choose what path she wanted to take. One where she wouldn't be destroyed by the thought of becoming a spinster or having a child out of wedlock. Members of her family insist on presenting things in the proper way though. And so, she is on the marriage market to hopefully find a husband fast enough to convincingly have her child and no one question it. People view all of this as a big deal. It's a trivial concern as well. It's a way to pass judgment onto women for the behavior they have taken in pursuit of their own pleasure. Daphne doesn't need a man to save her when Nigel makes unwanted advances towards her. However, it's helpful that Simon notices Daphne's disgust while her own brother, Anthony, thinks she should just suffer through it to embrace the deal he has made. Anthony believes he understands the world so well. His opinion matters more than anyone else's. He has to be the one to make the perfect match for his younger sister. It's his responsibility as the head of the household. He is cold and mean though. He tells people that he will protect them no matter what. And yet, his actions only increase the damage inflicted on them. Daphne loves her brother. He gets in the way of her pursuing her obligations in society in a way that will also make her happy. The final dance with Simon shows that something great can possibly bloom from this connection. Lady Bridgerton and Lady Danbury earnestly want it to happen. The core deceit Daphne and Simon agree to makes it a little hard to believe in the connection. It's all built on the chemistry between Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page. It works for now. There isn't a whole lot of depth to the proceedings so far. The premise seems a little thin. And yet, it's also a fun and colorful world that can offer a welcome escape from the dire world that seems overwhelming to so many right now as well. Gossip dictates how people around this town act at any given moment. They given credence to it because they fear how others will perceive and judge them. That is meaningful. But it will be more personable and rewarding to the audience once we see more nuance amongst this ensemble.