Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Bridgerton first reviews: Critics call Netflix’s period drama a ‘frivolous but fulfilling present’ to open on Christmas Day

Shonda Rhimes’ historical romance series comes to Netflix on 25 December

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 22 December 2020 09:45 GMT
Bridgerton trailer

The first reviews are in for Bridgerton, Netflix’s big Christmas Day launch, with critics declaring the series exactly the light-hearted fun the world needs this Christmas.

Based on Julia Quinn’s series of historical romance novels, the show follows the young men and women of London’s high society as they enter the marriage market for the first time.

At the centre of the show is the Bridgerton family, led by matriarch Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell), whose eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) is hoping to find a husband.

The eight-part series is created by Shonda Rhimes’ production outlet Shondaland as part of the Grey’s Anatomy writer’s new deal with Netflix.

Vanity Fair’s Sonia Saraiya called the series “delightful trash”, writing: “Bridgerton is like all of [Jane] Austen’s work thrown into a blender with Gossip Girl, after Austen’s restraint has been carefully set aside for use at some other time. Flashy, wildly anachronistic, distinctly American in its conception of British mores… it’s brilliantly perverse, a loving embrace of the period romance that sends up every Austen trope along the way.”

Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) and her court (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

“At the end of an awful and exhausting year, let us give thanks for it at least having the good grace to end with Bridgerton,” Variety’s Caroline Framke wrote in her review, calling the show’s mix of “age-old tropes and distinct Shondaland sensibilities” a “formidable love match”.

In her four-star review describing Bridgerton as “the sort of series that slips down as easily as a glass of pre-dinner champagne”, The Daily Telegraph’s Sarah Hughes singled out Derry Girls’ actor Nicola Coughlan for her “scene-stealer of a performance” as Penelope Featherington.

The Daily Mirror’s Lewis Knight called the show a “festive treat” in another four-star review, while Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk called the series “a heady, inviting fantasy of pleasure and true love”.

“At the end of this miserable year, at least there is Bridgerton, arriving this holiday season like a frivolous but fulfilling present,” VanArendonk wrote, declaring the series “a beguiling example of what can happen when romance is allowed to belong to characters who aren’t all straight and white, and a fanfare-and-confetti reminder of what the genre can be at its best”.

However, Vox’s Aja Romano took a more critical approach of the show’s light-hearted nature, writing: “[Bridgerton] promises a story of upper-crust debutantes with secrets and their fight to marry well in Regency London. But instead of filling that opulent, 19th-century setting with true passion and heart, the show comes off like many of the aristocrats it’s skewering: soulless and vapid.”

Bridgerton comes to Netflix on 25 December.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in