Top 10 Things Bridgerton Got Factually Right & Wrong

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Top 10 Things Bridgerton Got Factually Right & Wrong

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Shaina Higgins
Lady Whistledown let us in on what "Bridgerton" got factually right and wrong. Our countdown includes the power of the gossip papers, the costumes, regency decadence, and more!
Transcript

Top 10 Things Bridgerton Got Factually Right and Wrong


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things Bridgerton Got Factually Right And Wrong.

For this list, we’ll be picking up Lady Whistledown’s infamous pen to tell some truths about the real world inspiration behind the hit Netflix show. A slight spoiler warning is in effect.

What’s your favorite piece of hot Bridgerton gossip? Tell us about it in the comments.

#10: Mad King George (Right)


These days most people know King George III as the lovable tyrant from “Hamilton.” Historically speaking, he really did go mad, but it wasn’t from a bad colonial breakup. Throughout his adult life George struggled with fits of mania and delusions, causing him to periodically withdraw from public life. However, it was the loss of his favorite child, Princess Amelia, in 1810 that seems to have sent him over the edge. Deemed insane, George spent the last nine years of his life in seclusion while others took up the reins of power. Not his Queen, Charlotte, though. She may be Head Royal in Charge on “Bridgerton,” but in real life their son George stepped in as Regent, giving the Regency Era its name.

#9: Simon's End of the Line Vow (Wrong)


Rebellion pretty much goes hand in hand with Daddy Issues, but “Bridgerton’s” Simon Basset takes things to a whole new level. His vow to end his family line and destroy his toxic father’s prized legacy is...intense. It’s also highly unlikely from a historical standpoint. There was nothing more important to a man than being able to secure his family’s property and titles with an heir. Actively choosing not to would have been unheard of. Besides which, the value traditionally placed on masculine virility and the humiliation associated with impotence shouldn’t be underestimated. It strikes us as doubtful that someone as accomplished as Simon would have so little concern for his social reputation as a man.

#8: Women Earned Their Own Money (Right)


Women may not have had much in the way of legal rights in the Regency era, but they weren’t completely helpless either. In “Bridgerton” we see this in characters like Genevieve Delacroix and Siena Rosso, independent, unmarried women supporting themselves. And that’s not incorrect. Marriage was considered the ultimate achievement for a woman, but plenty still established themselves in other occupations. Education was a common field, as was domestic work. Modiste Genevieve represents the many women who were employed as dressmakers or in related trades. As an opera singer Siena would have been more unusual, not unlike those women who, like Jane Austen, were able to live by their pens. Women have always done just fine for themselves.

#7: Regency Decadence (Right)


Thanks to a million Pride and Prejudice adaptations, our image of the Regency tends to be a very prim one. “Bridgerton,” on the other hand, gives us a brief glimpse of the raunchy atmosphere that was thriving behind some closed doors. Between a sexual revolution in the eighteenth century and a Prince Regent who was all about having a good time, Regency Britain boasted a rollicking underground social scene similar to what we see at Henry Granville’s house. The society ballrooms of the era might have been all white gloves and perfect manners, but after hours there was a lot more sex, drugs, and rock and roll attitude than we ever would have thought.

#6: The Importance of the London Season and the Marriage Market (Right)


If “Bridgerton” gets one thing completely right it’s the historical significance of the London Season. For six months every year, the wealthy would descend on the city for an endless series of social gatherings designed to encourage mingling. Mingling of the young and unmarried members of society, that is. The Season’s most important function was as a marriage market, where individuals shopped for a partner who could either strengthen or improve their social standing. It was an especially crucial period for eligible bachelorettes. While men could take their time selecting a spouse, a lady who finished her debutante Season without a husband was viewed as a failure. “Bridgerton” does an excellent job of depicting the scramble to land a man.

#5: A Lady's Virtue is Everything (Right)


Okay, but SURELY it’s overreacting to shoot a guy because he took a walk alone with your sister. Not in the Regency it wasn’t. There’s a reason that unmarried ladies were supposed to keep a chaperone nearby at all times. A woman caught alone with a man could only save her reputation if he married her. Otherwise she was left open to speculation about what exactly had occurred away from prying eyes. With her virginity in doubt her marriage prospects would collapse. We’re not saying it’s fair, especially when Regency guys were expected to be “Men of the World.” It’s also not how we would have preferred Simon to marry Daphne, but we guess it’ll have to do.

#4: The Costumes (Right AND Wrong)


“Bridgerton” is a fantasy version of Regency England, and that is perfectly encapsulated in the thousands of eye-catching outfits created for the series. Most of the silhouettes are accurate to the period, but costume designer Ellen Mirojnick took deliberate artistic license using anachronistic colors, patterns, and embellishments to create looks that feel fresh to the modern viewer. Inaccuracies also feature in the creative hairstyling, and in the sheer amount of clothing that each character seems to have access to. And we have to talk about corsets, which were never the cruel torture devices we’ve been led to believe. Fashions of the Regency emphasized the bust, not the waist. Meaning there was no need to cinch anyone down to the size of a fruit.

#3: The Sexual Cluelessness of the Debutantes (Right)


Daphne, Penelope, and Eloise all seem a little oblivious when it comes to certain facts of life. It’s almost as if the show was playing up their naivete for effect. Unfortunately, it isn’t. With purity being considered the most important quality of a young lady, girls in the Regency were kept deliberately ignorant about anything to do with sex. Unless they had caught a glimpse of their farm animals demonstrating the circle of life, a Regency lady’s only sexual education before marriage usually came from her very uncomfortable, often unhelpful, mother. Lower class women tended to be more knowledgeable though; Daphne would certainly not be the first noblewoman asking her maid to fill in some missing information.

#2: The Power of the Gossip Papers (Right)


“Bridgerton” has earned more than a few “Gossip Girl,” comparisons, but both series owe their premises to a much older legacy. Gossip papers, or Scandal Sheets as they were called, were hugely popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth century as newspaper publishing started to take off. Using thinly veiled pseudonyms for their subjects, countless column inches were spent detailing the love lives and scandals of society’s wealthy and renowned. “Bridgerton’s” notorious Lady Whistledown even bears some similarities to a real life anonymous gossip writer named Mrs. Crackenthorpe, self-described as “a Lady that knows everything.” The appetite Regency audiences had for these Scandal Sheets just proves that whatever else may change, people have always been thirsty for a cup of hot tea. XOXO indeed.

#1: Queen Charlotte Was a Person of Color (Inconclusive)


One of “Bridgerton’s,” best features is its inclusive casting practices, starting right at the top with Queen Charlotte. But could that choice actually be based in historical fact? Well...maybe? Portraits of the Queen do seem to suggest someone of mixed ethnicity, and there’s some evidence to support the theory in contemporary descriptions of her appearance. Charlotte was also a direct descendant of a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House through Margarita de Castro y Sousa. That said, the connection was a distant one, and modern scholars remain divided on the truth of her race. With more than two centuries separating us from Charlotte’s lifetime it seems unlikely that we’ll ever have a definitive answer. We stan “Bridgerton’s” Queen regardless.
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