Keri Lumm reviews the first season of Bridgerton for Paste, which you can watch in the video above or read the transcript of below:
Turning a book into a movie is a popular thing to do. You have a built-in fanbase, but if the adaptation is confusing to those fans, look out.
Shonda Rhimes has turned Julia Quinn’s bestselling romance series into a television series for Netflix. The following review is for people who loved the books and hope the show is the same.
Spoiler alert: It is not.
One of the things I personally love about a historical piece is the costuming. With a story like The Duke and I, I hope for that classic Pride and Prejudice-type bonnet-drama look. While some of the styles of dress are similar, there are no hats.
Hard to imagine.
And what’s more—the colors. The fabrics are colors that I don’t think people even really knew existed back then. It takes some adjustment to be sure, but you get used to it, even if it is a bit disappointing.
They also dance the quadrille to an Ariana Grande song played on strings.
One change that isn’t a big deal: The cast is diverse, with the Duke of Hastings played by the gorgeous, Rege-Jean Page. It’s not a hard sell at all.
Ultimately, all of these changes are easy enough for the book reader to eventually get used to. Especially when you know ahead of time that it is not going to be like Outlander where they specifically cast people to look like their characters. They aren’t trying to do that in Brigerton, which is fine.
What I did hope was that they would keep the tone of the story the same. As I tried to flush out what it was that just didn’t sit right with me, it’s that there is so much going on. They tried to set up all the books at the beginning.
There are also storylines that are not from the book at all. Maybe I’m just not remembering correctly, but I do not remember a pregnant Featherington cousin. There are already so many Bridgerton family members, I didn’t need another person to keep track of—especially when they are starting so many stories at once.
And while the Queen plays a large role in the show, she comes off as a caricature—and maybe that is the right word for the wrong tone. This does not come off like a window into the world of the aristocracy in historical England. It comes off as kind of a joke about days gone by. Which would not bother me so much if it was explained that way, kind of like The Great. While this show is not nearly as overt in its creative license, it almost feels kitschy. Which is not at all how the book reads.
But this is a stereotype readers of romance novels often face: that they are ridiculous for escaping into books that end with happily-ever-after.
So my recommendation to you: If you have read the books, try NOT to compare them. You can’t. They are completely different, except for the names of the characters and a vague sense that you are in a historical England.
The books are the books and the show is the show. But if you want to see the books brought to life on the screen, simply trade in your paperback for a Kindle.
Keri is a professional chatterbox who loves watching TV & movies, reading about pop culture, and gawking at any craziness on the internet. You can follow Keri on Twitter.
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