At long last, Bridgerton is finally here as a holiday present for viewers wanting some scandal and romance in their Netflix queues. Based on the Bridgerton series of novels by author Julia Quinn, the show is akin to Gossip Girl meets Jane Austen and follows the lives of a powerful high society family as they navigate the world of Regency London to find love and happiness.
Here are the must know moments from the first three episodes.
Daphne Bridgerton’s 5-Star Rating at Court
The series begins with many a young debutante being presented to Her Royal Majesty Queen Charlotte at court. This signifies that they are officially out in society and are now eligible to be married. The queen though is super bored by proceedings as every young miss is hoping to catch the favor of the monarch. However, only Daphne Bridgerton is singled out as Queen Charlotte calls her “flawless.” But of course, that comes with its own challenges as her peers now see her as the ultimate competition in the marriage mart.
On the first edition of the gossip sheet Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, Daphne is given glowing commendations as this season’s diamond of the first water because of the Queen’s favor. However, the bigger they come, the harder they fall. Sure enough the young lady’s marriage prospects take a dismal turn no thanks to her eldest brother Anthony who sees it fit to scare away every suitor because he deems them unworthy of his sister. Soon the gentlemen move on from Daphne to Miss Marina Thompson whom Lady Whistledown now writes as the real incomparable of the season to the error of the Queen.
Simon and Daphne’s Agreement
Daphne is getting desperate as her brother is unrelenting in his protection and the only suitor she now has is the odious Nigel Berbrooke. In comes Simon Bassett, the newly situated Duke of Hastings who has returned to London after his father’s death. Simon is considered the Ton’s most eligible bachelor and thus the prize of matchmaking mamas for their unmarried daughters.
At another party, Nigel attempts to accost Daphne after she goes off by herself for a few moments. Simon hears the commotion and is about to come rescue her when she punches Lord Berbrooke in the face and knocks him out cold. The duke then laughs that Miss Bridgerton has a great swing and then has an idea that could be advantageous for the both of them. He suggests that they form an attachment to each other so that Lady Whistledown and the other society mothers will think he is unavailable while Daphne will be seen as desirable by other gentlemen. The two must make people believe they are madly in love with each other and that will require that they be seen together at various functions, he sends expensive flowers, and they promenade.
Nigel Berbrooke’s Blackmail Plans Go Awry
After the dowager Viscountess Violet Bridgerton scolds her eldest son for sabotaging his sister’s marriage prospects she says that if his father was still alive Daphne would already be married because he would have made arrangements for his daughter. She wants Anthony to do his duty as head of the family and not just as a brother. However, Violet was expecting that he support her and Lady Danbury’s plans of pairing Simon and Daphne but instead the viscount picks Nigel Berbrooke. That is just gross.
Anthony tells his mother and sister that it’s been settled and that he’s come to an agreement with the much older nobleman. Understandably both women protest but he will have none of it. Later at a party, Simon finds out what Anthony has planned for his sister and he relents and tells his friend about how Nigel tried to manhandle Daphne which effectively ends their agreement. Lord Berbrooke then follows the duke outside and demands to be told if he’s already slept with Miss Bridgerton and then taunts him about his own family history which leads to Simon beating the fool.
Not to be deterred, Nigel then comes to the Bridgertons at the park with a special marriage license and effectively threatens them if he doesn’t marry Daphne don’t marry he will reveal to the world that they had been alone together to ruin the young lady’s reputation and thus affecting the entire family. However, Violet is invited to tea at Buckingham Palace with Queen Charlotte and it is the monarch who offers some subtle advice on how to deal with the Berbrooke problem.
Violet invites Nigel’s mother over for tea and a Bridgerton housemaid discovers that the horrid man had gotten one of his own servants pregnant with a son and sent them both away without supporting his child. Armed with this knowledge, the women of the Bridgerton household spread the gossip like wildfire and soon enough it is featured in Lady Whistledown’s paper and Nigel is called away for urgent business. That was a pretty damn satisfying solution.
Anthony Bridgerton’s Dilemma: Responsibility vs. Paramour
Meanwhile, eldest Bridgerton Anthony has been harboring a not so well-kept secret of a mistress that even his mother knows about. He has been sleeping with the talented opera singer Sienna and even set her up in rented apartments across town. He had promised to always protect her and yet after Violet tells him that he’s skirting his own responsibilities of providing an heir he ends his relationship with the singer because he has to do what is necessary. Anthony had initially thought that with three other brothers he could count on one of them to provide a child to inherit the family title.
He’s torn between his affection for Sienna and his duties of always putting family above all else. To be honest I can’t really ship them as I really want to see Anthony’s storyline in The Viscount Who Loved Me play out on the show. Though I sympathize with Sienna’s character because she’s just trying to survive with the very limited options she has. As she said to Anthony, not all women have the luxury of being protected as his sister has.
Miss Marina Thompson and Her Shocking Secret
Newcomer Marina Thompson is the unexpected belle of the season having come from the country to stay with her distant cousins the Featheringtons. Lady Featherington is of course displeased as she has her own three girls who are on their first season. But her husband commands it so that Miss Thompson also be included and because of her beauty becomes the object of affection of many gentlemen.
However, it is discovered that Marina harbors a very big secret: she’s pregnant and has been since coming to London. The housekeeper realizes that the young lady hasn’t had her period in the entire month that she’s been in residence and relays the info to the lady of the house who then confronts her guest about it. Marina though doesn’t cower and stands up for herself, saying that she didn’t even want to be here to begin with and that earns her a slap across the face. Lady Featherington is more concerned about how the news will adversely affect her own daughters by association and so she decided to keep Marina confined to her room until she can figure out what to do.
Youngest daughter Penelope, who is the only Featherington with a brain and a kind heart, befriends her cousin and learns that she loved a man named Sir George Crane who was currently fighting for king and country in Spain. They have been secretly in correspondence with each other though Marina hasn’t heard back from him in quite some time. Soon though a letter from Spain does arrive but it’s one that seems to confirm what Lady Featherington has tried to tell the younger woman that men often do not want the responsibility of a child out of wedlock. The missive breaks Marina’s heart but in truth it had been penned by the mistress of the house with her housekeeper to make certain that the chit moves on and finds a proper husband. The elder woman needs her to get married asap to a man who won’t ask questions so that her own daughters won’t be compromised by the situation. Marina finally relents and is determined to move on and find herself a match.
A Prince Arrives
Queen Charlotte introduces her nephew the Prussian Prince Friedrich to the Ton and he becomes the most eligible bachelor now, replacing the Duke of Hastings. Friedrich genuinely seems like a nice guy and at his first London party tells all the young ladies he is introduced to that their gowns are exquisite, earning a snorting laugh from Daphne after Simon explains to her that this is a generic line. She though instantly catches his eye though Cressida Cowper has her own plans for the prince.
Cressida taunts Daphne at the modiste soon after the other young lady was just told by Simon that he was ending their arrangement because she now has a bevy of suitors and he was planning to leave London asap. The snide debutante thanks Miss Bridgerton that if she hadn’t been occupied by the duke then she (Cressida) wouldn’t have been able to snag the prince. This though has the opposite effect on Daphne and fuels her to secure the prince’s affection. She dresses up purposely for the royal at the very next party and he is naturally smitten and forgets all about Cressida. Queen Charlotte looks super pleased by this turn of events while Simon who ends up attending the event is shocked and leaves.
The first three episodes of Bridgerton were a delightful and I’m definitely hooked in. I especially loved the subplots with Eloise and Benedict who share some similarities as two characters looking for more than what society expects of them. Eloise doesn’t want to get married, wanting to do more with her life and become a writer, while Benedict dreams of being an artist and not just the second son of a noble house. Both love their family of course but struggle with the roles they are meant to fulfill. Eloise though aptly points out that Benedict is a man and is afforded the freedom to live boldly should he so choose it. She isn’t given that option at all.
I also really loved the friendship between Penelope and Eloise because it is such an important part of the book series. Nicola Coughlan and Claudia Jessie were perfect in their roles and had great chemistry with each other as bffs. Noticeably missing though was Francesca Bridgerton whom I only recall seeing in the first episode. We saw more of youngest Hyancinth than the third daughter.
Still the characters were perfectly captured from the outspoken Lady Danbury to the cruel Cressida Cowper. The tone of varying relationships were also presented well from the friendship and growing tension between Daphne and Simon, Simon and Lady Danbury’s surrogate parent-child setup, the Bridgerton family’s close dynamics, Penelope’s discomfort with her own mother and sisters, Anthony’s secret relations with Sienna, and more.
Perhaps though my favorite part of the show so far has been Julie Andrew’s voice overs as the enigmatic Lady Whistledown. Very curious to see how the show will eventually reveal the identity of the author, though hopefully it’s not going to be done ala Gossip Girl because it was accomplished so beautifully in the books.
Now onto to episodes 4-8!