I’d like to start this blog by thanking Netflix for letting us end 2020 with the Bridgertons. Cheers, pals, you’re the real MVP.
I also want to note that while I’ve read the series by Julia Quinn, it isn’t my favourite. Having read the entire series in March, it’s been a minute. Unlike my other fave series by other authors, I haven’t had the opportunity to reread these books. That being said, I don’t know them as well as I would if I had. So, please bear with me as I navigate through this book to screen adaptation. I will be doing my best.
Anyway — was I absolutely excited that The Bridgertons was being adapted? Yes, but that was mostly because this is a HUGE deal to all of us who love a historical/regency romance. Contemporary always gets a movie or a show, but never historical. I am hoping that the adaption of this series will lead to more adaptations of other series. Some of which are much better than this one. *FINGERS CROSSED*
For a little background, here is the series in its entirety (see below) and check out a reading guide I put together. There are eight books and the first season of the Bridgertons is supposed to be focused on the first novel, The Duke and I. Of course, since this isn’t a limited series, the show made a point of setting up future storylines for the Bridgerton family. In fact, Anthony’s book is next and you’ll notice how much his mother, Violet, brings up the fact that he hasn’t made getting married a priority. Even Simon points it out to him.
From what I understand, Quinn wrote these novels with the intention that they could be read as stand alones. Ok, I mean, it’s always nice to be able to pick up a book in a series and not be lost. However, it is bound to create some interesting difficulties for the people adapting the series into a show. There won’t be smooth transitions from one book to another. So, I tried to keep this in mind when I was watching the show. Creative liberties will be taken!
Book vs. Screen – The Quick List
To be honest, I could talk about the differences between the book(s) and the first season of The Bridgertons until I am blue in the face. However, to save us all some valuable time and to keep my fingers from falling off from all the typing, here is a quick list of notable differences. No, the list isn’t here to point out negatives. Differences aren’t a bad thing. A book and a television show are two very different things. Instead, the list is just to satiate anyone who is curious without having to read the books.
- Simon didn’t box. That means the characters of Will and Alice Mondrich only exist in the show.
- Simon was under the care of his nurse (or nanny) who helped him overcome his stutter. Not Lady Danbury.
- Simon never speaks to his father on his deathbed. He only comes back after his father dies. Otherwise, all contact was severed long ago.
- While Simon’s dad is a big ole bully, his parents are said to have been friendly. No, it was not a love match, but there was respect and a desire on both their parts to fulfill their duty of begetting an heir.
- Lady Featherington is a widow in the books. So, Lord Featherington, his gambling problem, and his demise was added to the show to add some drama. Also, she is the mother of FOUR daughters, not three. Yes, Penelope has a younger sister and the only one who doesn’t have a name beginning with P. Hm, so where is Felicity? She is really good friends with Hyacinth, but I guess some people needed to be cut.
- Marina Thompson is a distant Bridgerton, not Featherington, cousin. We don’t meet her until Eloise’s book (fifth in the series). Yes, George dies which is how she ended up married to his younger brother Phillip. No, she was not pregnant with George’s love child. (More on her below!)
- Queen Charlotte, while a real historical figure who was married to King George III, is not featured in the book. I find her presence in the show pointless. If she were eliminated, the show would still be fine.
- Nigel Berbrooke is a silly, harmless man in the books. I was sad to see him portrayed as such an ass in the show, especially as he eventually marries a Featherington. While those girls are silly, I don’t want them to be with someone like him. Ew. Let the silly, happy couple be silly and happy! Ugh.
- Colin is never engaged to Marina Thompson or any other woman for that matter. Though he does go on a European tour. Poor lovesick Penelope.
- SPOILER ALERT Penelope is Lady Whistledown, but we don’t learn this until the fourth book. I’m sad they took away the mystery of it. I wonder how long they will let that play out since she is Lady Whistledown for TEN years before she retires.
- Anthony is definitely not as overbearing as he is in the show. It’s almost laughable. Take a pillllll, bud!
- Cressida Cowper is given more screen time. Fair enough, we need a bully to take down a notch. Though, I mostly remember her as a problem for Penelope, not Daphne.
- The sex scene that has everyone talking about — ya, the one where Daphne prevents Simon from pulling out (I am so sorry I didn’t know how else to word it). In the book, Simon is drunk. In the show, Simon is sober. In both cases, Daphne is an ignorant girl who doesn’t know how babies are made. I am not going to share an opinion about it, but I encourage you to do a bit of Googling, read all the articles, watch the show, read the scene, and form your own informed opinion. It’s a good discussion piece on the topic of consent. Though, I will say, keep in mind it is 1813, not 2020. Women were VERY sheltered and ignorant. So, I don’t think Daphne went in with a game plan, per se.
- Prince Friederich – I know he is mentioned in the series. However, I mostly remember that he is mentioned in one of the accompanying series to the Bridgertons. The Smythe-Smith series is in the Bridgerton universe (I am sure we will meet them at some point if the show continues). Though, for the life of me, I can’t remember if he is mentioned in the Bridgertons. Sigh. Shows how minor of a character he is. Please comment if you remember!
- Lady Whistledown obsession – while everyone wants to know who the lady is, no one is super obsessed. At least, not until the fourth books, which makes sense. Eloise, while curious, never becomes that set on finding out who she is. It’s a fun topic of conversation for people, like all of us who had Game of Thrones theories. Anyway, I can see why they played it up more as it adds more tension and mystery.
- Daphne and Simon meet for the first time during Nigel’s proposal to Daphne. They do not bump into one another beforehand. I’m sad they changed it because the original exchange was hilarious. Nigel was knocked out and mumbling how he loved Daphne, Simon was trying to use his smolder on Daphne and failing, and both of them bicker over what to do.
Brief Character Discussion
Now, if you are like me and read these books a while ago or are in the process of reading the entire series or just read the first book in, there were probably moments where you went, “Huh, who the heck is that?!” Or, “Where the hell is this [insert character name?]” Ya, me too. So, let’s talk about characters who were given more screen time than “page time” or no screen time at all.
Miss Marina Thompson
The character that threw me the most was Marina Thompson. It took me almost the entire season before I was able to place her. Why? Well, Marina doesn’t appear until the Eloise’s book, To Sir Phillip, With Love, which is fifth in the series. In fact, when Sir Phillip introduces himself to the Featheringtons it reminded me of the title of the book and that is how I was able to make the connection.
More on Marina: she is actually a distant Bridgerton, not Featherington, cousin. She is brought to our attention when Sir Phillip writes to the Bridgertons to notify them of her death (suicide due to depression). It is this letter that ignites a correspondence between Eloise and Sir Phillip. Additionally, while it is correct that Marian marries Sir Phillip after his older brother George dies (they were engaged), she was not pregnant. So, when we meet Sir Phillip, he has twin seven-year-olds (I believe that’s their age) that are his. Anyways, at least Marina got her moment in the television show because she definitely didn’t get it in the book. We never interact with her except to learn about her marriage and tragic death. I’m interested to see how they play this out in the show because Phillip is Eloise’s future husband.
Okay, I have questions. There are eight Bridgerton children, right? All of the children made appearances, but Francesca is absent the most. I mean, we even get more Hyacinth and Gregory, the youngest of the brood and furthest from our minds. After all, their books are the seventh and eighth in the series, so it will be a while before they become the focus.
Now, what I always liked about Francesca’s book, When He Was Wicked, is that she is a widow when we meet her. Yes, we get a prologue to meet her first husband, but that’s all we get. Additionally, she isn’t in London. Instead, she is in Scotland grieving and getting a second chance at love. Is her disappearance to Bath (I believe it is mentioned in passing in the show) supposed to help establish a relationship off screen with her first husband? She is never this absent in the book. Francesca, where are you?! Why did they cut you so much?! She should be close in age to Eloise, so why not have her around more?
The. Music. Need I say more? Covering popular pop songs and putting them into a regency romance was something I didn’t know I needed. I know the movie Marie Antoinette tried to use modern music but I don’t think it was as effective. Here, the songs are completely instrumental. It. Hits. Different. Could you imagine Simon and Daphne dancing to T Swift as it’s originally recorded, lyrics and all? Nah.
Here are the cover songs:
- Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” by Vitamin String Quartet
- Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” by Vitamin String Quartet
- Shawn Mendes’s “In My Blood” by Vitamin String Quartet
- Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” by Vitamin String Quartet
- Celeste’s “Strange (feat. Hillary Smith)” by Kris Bowers
- Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” by Duomo
And, of course, what is music without dancing? The choreography was stunning and it didn’t hurt that the customer design was next level! The dresses were absolutely beautiful. Actually, everything was beautiful. Those sets, gah! If it weren’t for the lack of plumbing and electricity, I would LOVE to go back in time walk through those houses in those close. Though, with my luck, I’d be the maid stuck emptying chamber pots.
Oh – did you notice the hair! There were some outrageous hairstyles. Sometimes, at the ball, it became overwhelming, but if you pay attention there are some really cool and intricate designs going on. I may rewatch the show just to look at clothes and hair. I think Cressida may win for the most intricate. Makes me think of what the modiste says to Siena about how no matter how beautiful the dress, it can’t help that scowling face. I think the same can be said about her hair.
Some scenes were steamy enough to fog up my reading glasses. Call me out on it, that’s fine, but one of my concerns was that they were going to cut out the sex scenes. Seems like a silly worry, but one of the biggest components of a lot of romance novels is the physical aspect. Who doesn’t love some sexual tension?! I’m glad they didn’t do a fade to black. Although, I wasn’t expecting that montage of sex scenes. Jury is still out on that one. And some of the angles were weird. Some scenes were longer than I anticipated so it was an interesting moment of just watching two people fake humping one another. I don’t know, folks. What did you think of the sex scenes? I think they needed more build up, but that is also something missing in the novels. People just have sex in the them. Where is the shocking flirting? I’m happy they added that to the show — it added to Simon’s rakish reputation.
Did you watch the show? I certainly have no shame in admitting I binged it on Christmas Day. Let me know in the comments what you thought of it!
4 thoughts on “Book Vs. Screen: Bridgerton Review”
I’ve just finished the show today so have loves reading your post! Is each book based on an individual sibling then? And would you say they are worth reading?
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Yes, each book is based on a sibling. I liked the first four books well enough. After that, I struggled to maintain interest. I think it’s because of the large age gap between siblings — you just don’t get to know Hyacinth and Gregory, for instance, in their older sibling’s novels before you get to them. I don’t know if that helps. It’s not a bad series by any means, but I have read better. I hope you liked the show! I loved it and I’m hoping more historical romance series get adapted 😄
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Ah okay, thank you! Hopefully I’ll get round to reading them. I love the show and yes fingers crossed we get more!
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I love this show! I have watched it over 20 times now. It is the books I grew up on since middle school. During high school a friend and I traded a historical/paranormal romance novel almost everyday and would finish it within 24 hrs. It reminded me so much of Jillian Hunters series which I hope gets made into a show. Susan Krinard would also be a interesting series. But I am dying for Sherilyn Kenyon’s books to made into TV or movie.