Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story Review - Bridgerton does it again! | Rock & Art
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Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story Review – Bridgerton does it again!

Dearest gentle reader,

The trusted voice of Lady Whistledown once again brings us back to the world of Bridgerton with the newest spin-off coming directly from Shondaland: Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.

However, this time, the Bridgerton spin-off does not take us back to the Regency era the audience has grown to know and love with the past two seasons. Instead, we travel further back in time to the Georgian era, as evident by the costumes and fashion that have always defined the Netflix series, to follow a young Queen Charlotte as she marries King George III and subsequently becomes queen.

Queen Charlotte´s Story

In the historical fiction style that characterises a product like Bridgerton, the audience is promptly informed at the beginning of Queen Charlotte that this is not a history lesson but, rather, “fiction inspired by fact.” And perhaps that is the key to its success. In fact, Queen Charlotte’s story truly is the beginning of the Bridgerton universe as we know it, as established in Bridgerton season 1, and the critical moment that separates its fictionalised tale from history. Going deeper into Bridgerton’s worldbuilding, Queen Charlotte finally shows us what Bridgerton has told us all along the Great Experiment.

Queen Charlotte

With what may be one of Bridgerton’s most interesting plot points, Queen Charlotte succeeds in bringing the Great Experiment to life. What started as an explanation for the inclusion of people of colour in a period drama such as this one becomes a building block of Bridgerton’s rendition of Georgian society. In fact, it is thanks to Charlotte and George’s wedding that Black people obtain all that seemed to matter to the society of the time, namely fancy titles and lands.

However, Queen Charlotte shows us that, while this may be a stepping stone towards equality, there was still much more discrimination and segregation afoot in the Bridgerton world than the audience may have initially thought watching the main series. 

One of the most unique and interesting aspects of Queen Charlotte is, in fact, the inclusion of the discourse around race and discrimination in a period drama. More specifically, this is done mainly through the characters of the titular protagonist Queen Charlotte and Lady Agatha Danbury. While the two are subject to similar constraints due to gender and race-biased prejudice in the society of the time, they differ in social status, which is often highlighted in the juxtaposition of the two characters throughout Queen Charlotte.

 On the one hand, we have Lady Danbury who has to fight for her place in society and, later in the show, to maintain the title bestowed upon her family with very calculated moves. On the other hand, Charlotte is Queen and, as such, can afford more liberties: while she still has an antagonistic relationship with Lady Augusta, her struggles and battles are personal, rather than involving the whole ton. In fact, part of the key juxtaposition between the two is the question of love and marriage.

Both women may have been destined for an arranged marriage but the show poignantly makes clear that not everyone finds love in an arranged marriage through Bridgerton’s most talked about element: the sex scenes.

Another significant way Queen Charlotte stands out from the main show Bridgerton is in its portrayal of mental illness. While King George III is famously and historically known as the Mad King, the Bridgerton spinoff is able to shed new light, albeit fictional, on this theme.

This is particularly significant in this day and age when men’s mental health is still severely underestimated, it is now more than ever that a show like Queen Charlotte is needed. Not only does the newest Bridgerton instalment treat this topic with grace and compassion, but it also functions as an important reminder of what life as a mental condition really is like and how it is only a little percentage of what a person in their entirety is.

Queen Charlotte - Bridgeton

Similarly, Queen Charlotte also manages to shine a light on other untold stories, thus making it further stand out from other period dramas as well as its counterpart, Bridgerton. In a world where older women’s stories tend to be left aside, Queen Charlotte successfully represents three different types of women and their stories with the intertwining stories of Violet Bridgerton, Lady Danbury, and Queen Charlotte herself in the future timeline featured in the Bridgerton prequel.

In fact, their different struggles include not only three types of marriage in such a society but most importantly multiple examples of loss and grief: whether it is a beloved late husband, an unhappy marriage, or a distant husband, all of these women have lost something and struggle to move on from it. 

Moreover, this allows Queen Charlotte to discuss the most interesting plotline of all: the one that gives a voice to the untold stories of older women. As we look at past and modern media, it becomes extremely evident that women can only be protagonists in their youth. It is only recently that we have started seeing movies like Good Luck to You, Leo Grande where older women and their desires and wants can finally take centre stage. 

However, it is only fair to admit that Queen Charlotte too falls into this trap: while underlying this issue, Queen Charlotte predominantly focuses on its titular protagonist, Queen Charlotte in her youth, leaving this only as a supporting element in the dual timeline of the show.

And while the dual timeline is an ingenious idea to keep the show interesting and tied to events of the main series Bridgerton, it does sometimes read as a secondary, perhaps somewhat forgotten, plotline whose time jumps can appear sudden and confusing due to the similar styles that Bridgerton and Queen Charlotte share. 

While Queen Charlotte is able to give most of its supporting cast interesting plotlines aside from the royals themselves, it still seems to create a too narrow focus on none other than Queen Charlotte. While this may be expected, some plotlines do end up suffering. In fact, the introduction of young Violet Ledger remains somewhat irrelevant in the whole array of plots Queen Charlotte offers, only there to remind the audience of the future importance of the Bridgerton family to the universe and perhaps to suggest the focus of a future second season of the prequel. 

Similarly, if you are one of the fans who loved the relationship between Brimsley and Reynold, you may be disappointed to see that there is no real ending to their love story, which is abandoned in the future plotline. A

lbeit sad, this is a clear reminder that not everyone can marry for love nor find love in marriage: the Bridgerton world may have made some progress in terms of race, but the same inclusion is seemingly not granted to the LGBT community, which does not bode well for those Bridgerton fans who were hoping to see a gay romance with Benedict in a future Bridgerton season. 

Ultimately, however, Queen Charlotte wins the complex test that making a prequel is. Although most of the audience conceptually knows where the story is going to go, the stakes are still incredibly high when watching Queen Charlotte.

All in all,  Bridgerton still manages to keep things interesting and fresh thanks to its clever script, masterful acting, and stunning cinematography while giving a powerful insight into one of the most interesting characters of the previous two seasons of the show.