When it comes to period dramas, we all know the drill: safe, family fun, until Colin Firth appears in a wet shirt – and that’s as risqué as it gets. But super-producer Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, doesn’t like to adhere to rules, and so it may come as no surprise that Bridgerton – her first foray with her production company Shondaland into costume drama – caused a huge stir when it arrived on Netflix.
Set in London during the Regency era, where women’s futures are made or broken on the marriage market, the series follows the rise of debutant Daphne Bridgerton, played by newcomer Phoebe Dynevor (think of her as a sensational nu-gen Keira Knightley), who falls for the commitment-phobic Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page. Narrating the drama is none other than Mary Poppins herself, Julie Andrews, AKA the secretive journalist Lady Whistledown, whose periodical spills the tea on the latest society kiss ’n’ tells – and cancels people at will in a Jane Austen-esque version of social media. The ‘romance’ will have your grandmother clutching her pearls, and the pitch-perfect representative casting – with both the leading man and the queen, portrayed by Golda Rosheuvel, played by black actors – makes Bridgerton a period drama that finally reflects the world we live in.
Phoebe on representation in Bridgerton
The representation is something Phoebe is very proud of, she tells me, as we chat via Zoom from the living room of her family home in Manchester – which doubled up as the backdrop for her GLAMOUR UK cover shoot. “If we’re not seeing ourselves reflected in art, then we’re not going to engage with it, and that’s what’s so brilliant about Bridgerton. For me, it also shows that feminism doesn’t come in one form. Daphne isn’t your obvious feminist but she’s still in charge of her own destiny,” says Phoebe.