TV Binge: Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (Mini-Series, 2023)

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (2023)

Creator: Shonda Rhimes

Cast: India Amarteifio, Adjoa Andoh, Michelle Fairley, Ruth Gemmell, Corey Mylchreest, Golda Rosheuvel, Arsema Thomas, Sam Clemmett, Freddie Dennis, Hugh Sachs, Julie Andrews (voice), Tunji Kasim

Betrothed against her will to King George, young Charlotte arrives in London on her wedding day and faces scrutiny from the monarch’s cunning mother. – IMDB

Queen Charlotte is a spin-off mini-series for the Bridgerton TV series which is adapted from the book series by Julia Quinn. While the main series focused on the ton of the society and the romances of the Bridgerton children, Queen Charlotte is a prequel and bridge to the next season about how Queen Charlotte and the palace became the way it is as well a glimpse of the origin story of Lady Danbury and the connection to Violet Bridgerton. It even adds a side story of the Queen’s secretary Brimsley and his little romance with the King’s man, Reynolds.

Its a great angle to take because the world of Bridgerton is not only fascinating for the steamy and attractive romances that the two Bridgerton children that we’ve witnessed so far but one of the things that I personally love are the characters of Lady Danbury and Queen Charlotte who are incredibly dynamic characters in their mature years in the present and now their origin story helps craft their characters further, not only giving some substance to the inner workings of the characters of the palace, answering those questions about why King George is the way he is and what his affliction is but also how Queen Charlotte has taken over with much of the ruling and responsibilities of the palace while also sharing how Lady Danbury got her title and her respect in the society. There’s some secrets and scandals along the way but intertwined it also reminds us that the present world is more than the Bridgerton children and the Palace also has its own issues with a much welcome Lady Whistledown narrating that bit as well.

Running at six episodes, Queen Charlotte is well-paced and in the heart of period films, provides wonderful outfits and hairstyles. Queen Charlotte herself sporting some of the truly beautiful ones as they are much less extravagant in her younger years but in the present, still having some creative ones in the mix. While this Bridgerton story is primarily drama and romance, there is a good deal of comedy in there. The present day scenes focus around Queen Charlotte trying to get her fifteen kids to finally settle down and give her another royal heir when Princess Charlotte unfortunately dies. The conversations she has in her encounters with her offsprings are done in a serious manner but harness a lot of comedic elements. Its probably one of the more entertaining parts of the mini-series especially when paired with Lady Danbury and Violet Bridgerton’s blooming friendship as Violet starts having new desires in her life that she isn’t quite sure what to do about.

The cast is relatively well selected. Queen Charlotte played by India Amarteifio in her younger days and still Golda Rosheuvel in the present day is a wonderful fit for the character. There is a true development in the character of a princess from Germany who ends up marrying to another country and trying to find her footing especially with a husband that sells her a beautiful relationship at the start but ends up leaving her alone. What happens to her soon crafts the Queen she chooses to become in order to hold up the responsibilities of the palace but still protect her husband when his delusions set in. From the start to the finish, its mostly about her merge into the status of Queen but also how she gained her respect and how her friendship with Lady Danbury solidifies. The young Lady Danbury also has a similar origin story but on a less fortunate spectrum and played very well by Arsema Thomas who essentially has her story show that she is the one that chooses to be alone because of her past.

Looking at the male cast, its sad to say that the romance of this one is rather well done and unique but King George’s character, despite his ailments is not quite as immersive. Its probably just the writing bit more female-centric that his character progresses in struggle and therapy for most of the series. Corey Mylchreest is a handsome and charming choice for the role. However, its definitely the Queen’s secretary Brimsley that truly stands out played rather well by Sam Clemmett. Brimsley may be the subordinate of the Queen but despite the initial rejection, he does remain very loyal and honest to her.

Overall, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is a decent mini-series. There does seem like a little bit of a perpetuity issue when looking at the present day since this Queen Charlotte isn’t what it seems but then, it feels like its deliberate to give her a different side because this time, most affairs of dealt with behind the palace doors as family matters which makes her re-evaluate herself as a mother. The series itself is rather binge-worthy but the whole series truly culminates for the touching final moments in the present which reflects the relationship through the years between her and King George despite how it always seems like she is waiting for her husband to pass away. It gives the audience a little bit extra to consider that maybe those emotions are much more complex. Its a welcome fun entry to bridge the wait until Season 3 of the series itself.

TV Binge: Bridgerton (Season 2, 2022)

Bridgerton (Season 2, 2022)

Creator: Chris Van Dusen

Cast: Jonathan Bailey, Claudia Jessie, Julie Andrews (voice), Simone Ashley, Charithra Chandran, Luke Thompson, Luke Newton, Nicola Coughlan, Ruth Gemmell, Polly Walker, Golda Rosheuvel, Adjoa Andoh, Kathryn Drysdale, Phoebe Dynevor, Calam Lynch

Wealth, lust, and betrayal set against the backdrop of Regency-era England, seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family. – IMDB

Following the steamfest that is the first season of Bridgerton as it followed eldest sister of the Bridgerton family as she becomes Duchess and learns from Duke Hastings how to get in touch with her sexuality and sensuality and also helps him embrace his past so that they can move on better in the future, Season 1 comes to a pretty decent close and doesn’t have the appearance of the Duke as many already know since the real life actor has other projects so basically has been phased out with just the Duchess, played by Phoebe Dynevor making a few appearances to guide her older brother Anthony as he looks for his wife. You can check out my review of Season 1 HERE.

Season 2 dials things down on the steamy department quite a bit and Anthony’s story is one very similar to that of Pride and Prejudice and the familiar despise to love sort of story between Anthony and the previously disgraced Lady Mary’s family as they return to debut the younger sister, Edwina into society and find her a husband. Trained perfectly by her older sister Kate, Edwina is basically what Anthony is looking for in criteria as he searches for a wife to fulfill his duties as the eldest son and the Lord of the household and not for love. Right off the bat, Kate forms a strong prejudice against him based on a conversation he overhears at one of the balls and strongly goes against his pursuing Edwina however at the same time, their hatred and constant brush-up with each other creates strong feelings between them that soon turn into love. Season 2 is basically their journey for this season to their marriage at the end. Its much more familiar and tame than the first one but it has a lot more substance especially for Austen fans as Kate is a headstrong woman and she manages to bond well with Eloise, who reluctantly has entered society as well. It gets a little wishy-washy in parts but they do create a nice contrast between Kate and Edwina building on their sisterhood and their family background but also have that nice chemistry between Kate and Anthony that develops pretty nicely.

Bridgerton isn’t just about the love triangle between Kate, Edwina and Anthony. In fact, the story extends further into that Lady Whistledown plot where now, as the audience for the big finale of Season 1 was revealed to us and its just a trek for this character (not saying the name in case you haven’t seen the first season) to hide her tracks as Eloise is once again enraptured by trying to track down this character which leads her to another side of town, meeting people who are opinionated the way she would like to be. Talking about that, I do still love that Lady Whistledown is voiced by Julie Andrews. Lady Whistledown’s facade has a lot more at stake especially since this character isn’t only a part of scandal that the ton love to read but also has stepped on the wrong toes like the Queen who is also adamant on tracking the identity behind this character who constantly challenges her decisions. The final piece of the plot is the story with the Featheringtons as the household of women and girls wait for the new man of the house to show up which creates an interesting sort of side story and if anything builds up on Lady Featherington’s character the most.

Season 2 Bridgerton is much better than the first one. It takes on a different tone and while the material itself feels familiar, it fits so well into this society and how we come know and love this sort of Austen-like scenario. Not to mention that the acting is more refined with all the characters also having more substance to them as they tie up loose ends from the first and the Bridgertons, Lady Danbury and the Sharmas all have some really human moments where their somewhat of a demise separates them from the ton but also makes them embrace each other in some fun. If you’ve watched it, you know which scene I’m talking about. As a final note, I’m hoping that Lady Danbury hangs out for more of these seasons because she is a fantastic character, one of the best of the series as she’s filled with personality and guidance. Overall, a much welcomed step up in season 2.

TV Binge: Bridgerton (Season 1, 2020)

Bridgerton (Season 1, 2020)

Creator: Chris Van Dusen

Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Jonathan Bailey, Ruby Barker, Nicola Coughlan, Ruth Gemmell, Adjoa Andoh, Claudia Jessie, Luke Newton, Luke Thompson, Polly Walker, Golda Rosheuval

Wealth, lust, and betrayal set against the backdrop of Regency-era England, seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family. – IMDB

Based on Julia Quinn’s first book of the Bridgerton book series called The Duke and I, Bridgerton’s first season is like a Regency London’s era of Gossip Girl. Its scandalous and there’s a mystery lady called Lady Whistledown writing on everyone’s gossip and spreading her speculations about different situations. Set during the beginning of the season where the debutantes go into society to look for their suitors, the first season is all about Daphne, the oldest daughter of the Bridgerton family as she enters into society and navigates her way through everyone’s different opinions before hatching a plan with the newly arrived Duke Hastings who wants to craft a fake connection with her to avoid having to deal with other mothers of available daughters as he doesn’t want to marry while creating the smoke screen for Daphne that will make other men desire her more because of already being desired. Of course, its no doubt that Daphne and Duke Hastings form a real connection eventually and it becomes quite the push and pull relationship, full of drama and soapy elements as well as the many sex and intimate scenes going on.

Bridgerton is thoroughly a guilty pleasure. There’s no other way to put it. Its not exactly untapped territory especially for myself that watches a ton of Chinese dramas which revolve around crafting fake relationships that turn into real connections and so on so forth. What makes Bridgerton fun is of course the Regency London era with its beautiful houses and lovely clothes and the very innocent and protected debutantes who are protected from everything about sex and intimacy. At the same time, the world that its crafted is a racially integrated Regency era London where (according to Wikipedia because I haven’t read the source material) it differs from the book’s setting. However, they do a great job and justifying how it all came to be briefly in conversation. The story itself definitely has those expected frustrating moments where the two misunderstand each other and then there’s some scheming that creates them to diverge in their feelings and its a whole roller coaster ride in terms of the few months of the season that Daphne and Duke Hastings go through.

Other than the setting, Bridgerton is all about the characters. For starters, the main couple Daphne and Duke Hastings has a ton of chemistry and that reflects well as their connection grows stronger and they love each other more. The sex scenes are done incredibly well and very believable. Above all of it though, its about Daphne’s sexual awakening and the gradual revelation and learning about how sex works and how getting pregnant works and all that comes together that crafts her character in a certain way. Aside from these two, the story does also deliver some other great characters. The favorite going to Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) who is Duke Hastings aka Simon’s mentor. Hands down the best character in the whole first season. The first season also laid down the foundation of the Bridgerton family whether its their widowed mother Violet or the three brothers, Anthony, Benedict, Colin and Gregory or the younger sisters Eloise, Francesca and Hyacinth who all make an appearance, big or small. Seeing as the following seasons will be about the other members of the family, that foundation is rather important plus the first season also follows some of the relationships and character development for a few of the siblings especially for Anthony, Benedict, Eloise and Colin.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the 10 episodes of the first season of Bridgerton. For those who like Regency era London settings, this one is a pretty decent choice. The first season’s most compelling parts are the scenes that build up the relationship between Daphne and Simon. The slow connection and the comfort; the change from disapproval to love; the fake relationship to real; what they teach other and grow together: it has its frustrating moments but then it also has some well-crafted moments. The second compelling element has to be trying to figure out who is Lady Whistledown especially when she’s voiced by Julie Andrews. When I finished watching it the first time, I had some mixed feelings about it but when I watched it a second time around, I realized that there is something there that does work.

As an aside, Season 2 has been confirmed and its going to follow the brother Anthony who had his tangent in season 1 although, I was rather lukewarm to the whole thing. However, the season ended hinting that it would be focused on him finding a wife so we will see where that goes. In the meantime, I’m going to catch up with the series when I have a moment see how the series match up to the source material.