I've watched all of Netflix's Bridgerton.....twice. What do I do with my life now?
Dear Reader, this is a fair question. Upon its arrival on Netflix on Christmas Day, Bridgerton has taken the ton by storm and its popularity is spreading faster than a juicy piece of gossip among ladies maids. But why has this period drama made such a splash among viewers? And what are we to do with ourselves once the season is over and we are forced into a show hole so lonely we cannot help but wallow? This author is here to help.
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What's all the hype about Bridgerton?
Yes, we have been starved for new entertainment after a year of being unable to go the movie theater, saunter through a bookstore, attend a live concert, take a vacation, fly on a plane……well; you get the idea. But that does not take away from the brilliance that is Bridgerton.
Set in London somewhere between 1813 and 1827, the new Netflix series is based on a series of novels by Julia Quinn, but at the healm of this ship is the incomparable Shonda Rhimes. Thanks to the magic of Shondaland, the London high society in the world of Bridgerton has a Black Queen (as in, an actual Queen who is married to the King and is very much in charge of all the shenanigans taking place) and a diverse upper class taking a promenade in the park as the marriage market heats up during the social season where eligible young noble ladies who have come of age attend balls and entertain suitors with the goal of finding themselves a match by season’s end. It’s like a period romance novel jumped off the page and onto our screens, but SO. MUCH. BETTER. The dialogue is witty and sharp, we see both racial and body diversity on the screen, the chemistry between the leads is straight fire, and the show provides a masterclass in the art of building tension to a……ummmmm…..satisfying release, to say the very least.
Make no mistake, gentle reader. This show is SPICY.
Steam Level: 4.5/5
But, what are you to do if you have already torn through all the current episodes, perhaps even more than once? Not only are you now strolling about the house speaking in an affected British accent to your whelps in leading strings and making an appointment to have new gowns fashioned, but you are also left forlorn and lonely, wondering what can satisfy this newly discovered longing for 19th century British society and romance! Let’s help you with that, shall we?
What to Watch if You Loved Bridgerton
Even if you never thought a period drama/romance would be your cup of tea, Bridgerton may have opened you up to a whole new genre to explore. Here’s some suggestions of other TV shows you might want to check out and where to find them.
Outlander (STARZ + Netflix)
The first three seasons of this time-traveling drama/romance series are currently on Netflix, but you’ll need a subscription to STARZ to watch the fourth season and the upcoming fifth. Essentially, this series centers around a World War II army nurse who accidentally travels back in time to 1743 Scotland where she meets an outlawed Scottish laird and sparks fly in a BIG way. The first two seasons focus on the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 where the House of Stuart makes its last attempt to reclaim the British throne so history buffs will love following along. Then in Season Three, we travel to the colonial Americas. Trigger Warnings – Sexual assault….like, a lot of it. PRO TIP: The final episode of Season One is a DOOZY. As in, if you are a highly sensitive person, do not go in unprepared.
Steam Level: 5/5
The Tudors (Netflix)
Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. Originally airing on Showtime, The Tudors chronicles the life of the infamous King of England, Henry VIII, and takes place in the sixteenth century- focusing on his relationship with Cardinal Wolsey, his newfound romance with Anne Boleyn, and his desire to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in order to secure his dynasty. Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones fame is exquisite as Anne Boleyn, all the way to the scene where she *spoiler alert but if you know history, you knew this was coming* she loses her head. Yes, the show takes a lot of creative liberties, but if you are looking for a historical drama with a bunch of good looking people have sessy time, this is a great pick. Leaving Netflix in January 2021, so hurry!
Steam Level: 5/5
Originally a BBC drama, the Poldark series centers around the life of Ross Poldark, a lovable bad boy in a Tricorn hat and with a scar across his cheek that he got while fighting in the American Revolutionary War. Most of the 37 years that the novels span take place on the ragged cliffs of Cornwall on England’s far Southwest Coast. The first three seasons are currently on Netflix. Poldark is a lot slower moving than Outlander and Bridgerton, but it’s a beautiful story and amazing characters. Deep feels, but you’ve got to give it time. Where Bridgerton is more soap opera, Poldark is more like reading great literature.
Steam Level: 4/5
Think Game of Thrones meets Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars. Originally from the CW, this one is a highly fictionalized American historical romantic drama television series following the early exploits of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary has to contend with changing politics and power plays, as well as her burgeoning feelings for Francis and the romantic attentions of Francis’s bastard half-brother, Bash. Super entertaining and fun, but you don’t necessarily get super wrapped up in the characters as much as some of the others on this list.
Steam Level: 3.5/5
The White Queen (STARZ)
This one is the first miniseries in a collection that follows the shenanigans of that begin during the War of the Roses for the English Throne all the way through the ascent of the House of Tudor. The White Queen begins in war-torn 1464 and is uniquely told through the perspective of three different, yet equally relentless women- Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville. In their quest for power, they will scheme, manipulate and seduce their way onto the English throne. Fun Fact: I started watching this after using Ancestry.com to trace my lineage all the way back to this very family! So it was really cool to see my direct ancestors portrayed on screen!
After you’ve watching this one, continue on to The White Princess, The Spanish Princess, and then you’ll be all up to date with Catherine of Aragon married to Henry Tudor for the start of The Tudors!
Steam Level: 4/5
Victoria (Amazon Prime)
Originally a Masterpiece from PBS. For Bridgerton fans, this show centers around the woman who was Queen of England in real life from 1819 to 1901. Three seasons are currently available on Amazon Prime. Victoria has vibes similar to The Crown from Netflix, but presents the title character as a must more likable, nuanced character than Queen Elizabeth II.
PRO TIP: If you like these kinds of shows, check out our affiliate link for the 7-day Free Trial of the PBS Masterpiece add-on for Amazon Prime Video. It’s jam-packed with lots in this genre that might be a great fit!
Steam Level: 3/5
What to Read if You Loved Bridgerton
Yes, we could continue to click “Next Episode” until we melt into the couch, but what should we be looking to if we maybe want to read a book that tickles that same fancy as Bridgerton?
The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn
This is a no-brainer. If you loved the show, pick up the books the show is based on! Each book centers on a different Bridgerton sibling, so we will continue to be taunted by the titterings of Lady Whistledown while following the exploits of Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth. Start with The Duke and I so you can compare book vs. show and then keep ’em coming. PRO TIP: The first three books are available as a bundle for Kindle so you can get them loaded and ready to tear through!
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .
Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.
Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.
Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . .
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.
Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?
Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….
A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.
His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.
But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
This one is NOT a historical romance, but it crushes in the Fake Relationship trope. Featuring a diverse cast written to perfection by an author of color, this one and its predecessor, Get a Life, Dani Brown, are steamy and wonderful!
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.
When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?
Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.
Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
The word on the street is that we will be treated to more seasons of Bridgerton in the future, but hopefully this list has given you a lot to chew on in the meantime! We shall see you around the ton, gentle reader!
The Great on Hulu is also a very good candidate for this list. It’s starting to get a lot of award nominations!