I’ll straight up admit that I ADORE Bridgerton. I adored the books, I adore the series even as it differs from the books. I love the costuming and the characters and the vividness with which it’s shot. If I told you how many times I’d watched seasons one and two your jaw would likely drop.
So it makes total sense that when Netflix and Shondaland and Julia Quinn decided Queen Charlotte was going to be a thing, I was all over it. It’s the Bridgerton version of “Droughtlander” – if anyone knows a clever term that matches the Bridgerton-verse let me know. Season 3 will be out late this year; this was just the thing to bridge the gap.
It must be noted that while Queen Charlotte and Mad King George DID exist, this is a fictional story. As a historical fiction writer, I’m fond of proper labeling. As long as I know going into something that it did or did not happen, I adjust my expectations and settle in for enjoyment. It’s what we, as readers and viewers need to do when we sit down to read or watch…but that’s a whole other blog post on fiction vs fiction inspired by real events vs fiction based on real people, etc.
Okay, that was a lot of preamble, but here’s my take. As much as I have loved seasons 1 and 2, Queen Charlotte is different. There is a seriousness and gravity to it that I think, for me, was because we know how the story ends. We know that George is ill. We know that the marriage has massive challenges because of his health, and that their road as a couple is not an easy one, so there’s not going to be a happily ever after at the end. What we’ll get is an unbreakable bond, a love that stands the test of time. We know we’re seeing marriage vows in action.
*** SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD ***
More than that, though, is that the series really delves into what love means, what marriage means, and how everyone carries their own baggage that defines and shapes them. It’s not just about Charlotte and George, past and present. It’s about Violet, who adored her father, had a fairy-tale wedding, and has mourned her husband for well over a decade. Her view on love and marriage is very different from Lady Danbury, who had no love for her husband, and who found love for a fleeting moment in time in the arms of another. Those memories are what have stayed with her, even as she reveals she never wanted another husband. It’s not the flush of young love but the fullness of love that can only be created through the echoes of years together (or apart). It’s about Brimsley and Reynolds and their forbidden love; it’s about loving someone even when they’re not with you anymore (the scene with Brimsley at the end made me cry). It’s about Violet and Agatha’s friendship, and how it is tested. It is, ultimately, about female strength and courage, resilience and endurance.
And in the end, it is not about a queen and a king, but a woman who is Charlotte and a man who is Just George.
There is a bittersweetness to this installment of the Bridgerton series that gives it more maturity. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend…and bring tissues. 🙂