Fans of Regency-era shows would be forgiven for looking doubtfully at Bridgerton’s depiction of that age. Black nobility, dizzyingly tight corsets, the Bridgerton family, and Ariana Grande tunes don’t seem part of this period. However, the drama on the series is so good that it swiftly masks any concerns you had about the show’s inaccuracies.
Bridgerton season 2 is still the talk of the town following its release in late March 2022. The new series sees an Indian family join the Bridgerton sphere looking for a suitor. Anthony Bridgerton finds a lover in the family, but as expected from Bridgerton, his route to love is fraught with scandal.
The Bridgerton family didn’t exist in England’s Regency era
Julia Quinn, the author of the Bridgerton books inspiring the series, made up the Bridgerton family. There’s no evidence that such a family existed during England’s Regency era.
“Bridgerton—it’s not a history lesson, it’s not a documentary. There were not actually any real Bridgertons in 1813 Regency London as far as I know,” showrunner Chris Van Dusen told The Daily Express.
“It’s a reimagined world, and what we’re really doing is marrying history and fantasy in what I think is a really exciting way.”
However, this revelation doesn’t dampen our love for the family. The depiction of British high society in the series is also somewhat misleading.
As brought out in the series, women did make money in the 1800s in occupations such as teaching and dressmaking. However, some of the costumes created by Genevieve Delacroix in Bridgerton didn’t exist during the Regency era.
In the first season, we see Prudence Featherington faint before the queen due to the tightness of her corset. However, corsets weren’t in vogue during the Regency period; they came to prominence later in the Victorian era.
The depiction of racial equality in Bridgerton is hugely exaggerated
In Bridgerton, Queen Charlotte’s ascension to power alleviated the oppression of black people and marked their inclusion into British high society. Queen Charlotte is based on the actual Queen Charlotte, who some historians believe had black ancestry.
“That’s something that really resonated with me,” Van Dusen told Entertainment Tonight. “I started to wonder what that could have looked like. What could this queen have done? Could she have used her power to elevate other people of color in society?”
However, the depiction of racial equality in the show is hugely exaggerated. People of color lived in England in the early 1800s, and some of them were part of the nobility, but like today, they were few and far between.
Black people gained freedom in England in 1833; in Bridgerton, they mingle freely with their white counterparts, walk the halls of power and hold great wealth. As Van Dusen stated, this depiction is a fantasy and not even remotely accurate.
Critics have offered differing views on the depiction of race in Bridgerton, but to fans, we are happy to see diversity on screen. Rege-Jean Page, a black breakout star of season 1, told Entertainment Weekly that he was delighted to star in a Regency show where his race didn’t dictate his storyline:
“With color-conscious casting, I get to exist as a Black person in the world. It doesn’t mean I’m a slave. It doesn’t mean we have to focus on trauma. It just means we get to focus on Black joy and humanity.”
The creators wanted the show to reflect modern times
Bridgerton is set in an era nearly two centuries back, but the show’s creators say they wanted the show to reflect modern times. Perhaps now the Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande tunes make sense. Van Dusen said that the show is rooted in the Regency era, but everything is turned up.
“The look of the show is also very modern and feeling in terms of things being bright and vibrant and fresh,” Van Dusen said. “There’s a little bit of sparkle with everything, and I think that’s true with everything from our set design to our costumes.”
Per Van Dusen, sometimes one forgets that the show is set in the 19th century. “I think you sometimes forget about that, because what we’re exploring I think the modern audiences will be able to relate to,” he told Heart.co.uk.