I feel I should add a clarification after my earlier post about Bridgerton wherein I went a bit bananas in critiquing the way the series played out. This part in particular haunts me:
After the Queen's Gambit, I was starting to enjoy my "predictable but sharply done" Netflix fare. Bridgerton reminded me that not all good ideas just naturally turn into good series. Even the best of the best can faceplant at the finish line.
I realized after posting it that I was breaking my own rules about commentary: promote, don't attack. The people who make art for our enjoyment put a lot on the line to get things done, and it doesn't always work out as perfectly as they'd intended. Trashing them for a near-miss isn't helping anyone, and can in fact do real damage to their careers. If you liked something, tell the world; if you were meh on something, talk about the good parts; if you hated it, stay silent.
(Obviously, this doesn't apply to media critics whose job it is to disassemble things for a living. Their responsibility lies elsewhere.)
I screwed up with my piece, and I feel bad about it. So here is my attempt at reconciliation: the good things about Bridgerton!
- Daphne and Simon: As individual characters, as actors and as plot devices, I loved the everliving crap out of those two — but never more so than when they were scheming and chatting together on walks in the park. I kinda would've loved an entire season of them just chatting and flirting like that, manipulating the whole world for funsies. Both actors are absolutely brilliant, and the writing was spot-on every step of the way.
- Marina: Ruby Barker did an astounding job of turning the show's punching bag into someone we really cared about. Lost lovers, lies, scheming that starts off despicable but then turns heartbreaking — and then heartbreak and heartbreak again. It's the kind of role that a lesser actor would mangle, but Barker kept Marina consistent throughout.
- Anthony: His character is, from what I've read, quite different than in the books, but from what I've read, this new version is a much better take for a first season of a TV show. He starts off being the obnoxious brother intent on obstructing Daphne's happiness, and then turns into a tortured but sympathetic character who has issues of his own (to be solved next season, I presume).
- The Casting: I mean, everyone is just perfect, from Golda Rosheuvel to Adjoa Andoh to the every-wonderful Polly Walker and especially Luke Thompson as a character I didn't think I'd like, but somehow did. This show looks gorgeous, and the actors make it all seem so seamless, it's kinda dizzying at times.
All of which is to say: Bridgerton was a great and fun show, despite my (writery) issues with the ending. It deserves a gold star, and also every bit of acclaim it's had so far.
And now I feel slightly less awful about myself.