TV in 2021: escape into breeches-busters and fantasy

Adaptations of novels have provided distraction from the pandemic and there are plenty to come

04 February 2021 - 20:41 By Jan Dally

Plague stalks the Earth, economies teeter — but never mind all that. Huge swathes of the  public have better things to think about: the naked gluteus muscles of Regé-Jean Page, beefcake star of Netflix’s ludicrous, unstoppable Bridgerton. The miniseries is a mash-up of several books by Julia Quinn (who also scripted), but in essence it’s cod-Jane Austen with added rumpy-pumpy. Petticoats and petty intrigue, lace and lasciviousness, with dialogue so gasp-makingly terrible as to be entirely hilarious — what more could we want as a distraction from current realities?

Is it the book we wish Austen had written? There have been several of these: it comes hard on the heels of last year’s Belgravia (same costumes) and Sanditon, only slightly less ridiculous than Bridgerton, and this time indeed partly written by poor, abused Austen herself (who gave up, like me, well before the end). And further proof that the breeches-buster genre, heir to the now outmoded bodice-ripper, is as potent as ever. Look out for others before the year is over...

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