This review of The Buccaneers is incredibly entertaining for fans of Bridgerton.
I am a fan of Edith Wharton’s work, even though I have never actually read one of her books. I hope that is acceptable. My admiration for her has only grown since the release of The Buccaneers on Apple TV+, which is based on her incomplete novel of the same title. The show features a talented cast of young actors who, in my opinion, blend together under my watchful but aging gaze. They portray characters who wear historically inaccurate costumes and find themselves in various predicaments, but their youthful energy drives the story forward.
In the upcoming eight episodes, we will follow the romantic journeys of a group of girls as they prepare for the extravagant New York wedding of one of their own, Conchita (played by Alisha Boe). While she is known as Connie in the book, she is referred to as Conchi here, which personally bothers me and makes me feel like an etiquette or language expert should have intervened. Anyhow, Conchita is set to marry Lord English of Englishtown (played by Josh Dylan), although his real name is Lord Richard Marable. However, what’s important is the overall atmosphere, not the specifics. Conchita almost backs out of the wedding due to objections from her future in-laws, Senior Lord and Lady English (played by Anthony Calf and Fenella Woolgar, respectively). Nan (played by Kristine Froseth), Conchita’s best friend and the main protagonist, comes to the rescue just in time because Richard has already gotten his fiancée pregnant and time is running out.
Miss Testvalley, the governess, asks him to bring them to London for the debutantes’ ball so they can show up the snobbish New York elites and keep Conchi company while she is pregnant with his child. Nan’s mother, Mrs St George, is happy that she can fulfill her duty as a mother to her two daughters, Nan and Jinny. Nan is energetic and curious, while Jinny is more insecure and traditional. Jinny pleads with Nan to stop being so captivating all the time, something that older sisters can understand.
We embark on our journey across the Atlantic, with the intention of infusing lively American energy into the rigid upper class society. Conchita cautions us about the potential treachery of this environment, comparing it to a pit of snakes. The girls experience the highs and lows of love, accidentally drop shoes into desserts, mix up identities, long for love and then regret it, navigate through disappointing marriages (and beware of terrible husbands!), question their own sexual orientations, cope with sexual assault, reject dukes, uncover family secrets, and surprise dull old men with their unexpected knowledge of art.
Bridgerton is a combination of Jane Austen’s writing and the popular show Gossip Girl, set a century later. It can also be compared to the show The Royals, but with better execution. If Julian Fellowes had the ability to infuse the humor of Edith Wharton into his series The Gilded Age, while keeping it lively and appealing, it would be similar to what creator Katherine Jakeways has accomplished with Bridgerton.
While it may seem nonsensical, the focus is not on accurately portraying the time period. The only important detail is that during the turn of the century, the English upper class would often marry wealthy American women despite their lack of refinement. This story is primarily a romantic comedy rather than a deeply insightful social or proto-feminist critique in the style of Edith Wharton.
However, we are permitted to indulge in some frivolity every now and then, and nothing is more delightfully rejuvenating than when it is executed as skillfully as it is here. It is incredibly entertaining without losing relevance to modern issues. Despite progress, young women still face limitations in their aspirations for life, love, and independence. While the number of aristocrats may have decreased, sexual violence remains prevalent. The Buccaneers emphasizes the value of female camaraderie and allows it to provide comfort.