Based on Julia Quinn’s fabulously successful book series and a personal all-time favorite of my own, Netflix’s Bridgerton debuted on Christmas Day with the adaptation of the series starter The Duke and I. Which I will readily admit was never my favorite book in the series, to begin with, but loved just the same.
Now I am not going to bog this down with details of the story, since one can only assume that if you have watched or plan to watch, then you already have read the books and know what to expect. What I will do instead is give my 100% honest opinion, because Lady Whistledown would have it no other way.
The sad truth is, I was feeling a little deflated by the end of the first few episodes and nearly stopped watching altogether. Why? Because the characters being portrayed on-screen we’re simply falling short of the ones brought so vividly to life inside the pages of Ms. Quinn’s books. By which I refer to Anthony being portrayed as a total ass, Colin a dim-witted fool, Lady Bridgerton as the stereotypical matchmaking mama vs. compassionate matriarch, and the canny and cantankerous Lady Danbury, felt like a watered-down version of her book series counterpart. But the most glaring issue was a complete lack of chemistry between Simon and Daphne. That undefinable spark was simply not there and even the lively banter that was such an exciting part of their courtship in the books felt wooden at best.
The other reason was one that I find commonly annoying in many books, but never before in regard to the Bridgerton’s, was too much focus being given to side stories that have no real impact on the main story being told.
While I realize Netflix needed additional material to flesh out what amounts to eight mini-movies, some of that time could have been better served making Simon and Daphne’s evolution as a couple feel more like an emotional journey vs. something out of a Hallmark movie. Was it interesting delving into some of the behind the scenes drama of the Featherington’s household or Eloise’s determined quest to uncover the identity of Lady Whistledown? In these cases, I would have to say yes. But even those aspects could easily have been pared back a bit to help keep the focus where it belonged. However, the running story with Anthony and his mistress (which in my opinion, casts a pall on the later story of him and Kate) plus so many scenes focused on the Queen—who plays only a minor role in the series—I could have done without, entirely.
To be perfectly honest, I only continued to watch in large part to know how well they portrayed the friendship between Eloise and Penelope and my overall love for the Bridgerton series of books.
Thankfully—THANKFULLY—I did come back for the final half and was delighted to see most of the characters finally fall into sync with their proper personalities and most importantly, a more mature Daphne emerged to finally ignite the emotional spark that had been missing in her relationship with Simon at the beginning.
I finished watching the final episode feeling quite satisfied and even excited by the prospect of the series continuing to tell the rest of the Bridgerton sibling’s stories in the future and very happy that despite the stumbles of the beginning, the creators eventually got it right to make this adaptation worthy of Ms. Quinn’s phenomenal creation.