Netflix And Shonda Rhimes' Bridgerton Could Be The Most Scandalous Period Drama Since Sanditon

Netflix is wrapping 2020 with a brand new TV period drama in the form of Bridgerton, and it's safe to say based on the trailer that the most scandalous thing to happen won't just be a gentleman and lady dancing without wearing gloves or meeting without a chaperone. Despite the fashion looking like it could be right out of a Jane Austen adaptation set in the Regency era, Bridgerton promises to live up to its legacy as a Shonda Rhimes production, and it looks scandalous enough to rival Sanditon far more than a Pride and Prejudice or Emma.

And not just because the trailer (seen above) quite literally repeats the word "scandal" multiple times, nor because it seems to be framed by the writings of the mysterious gossip known as Lady Whistledown. The footage indicates that there will be at least three separate love scenes and at least one party that definitely doesn't look like something Lizzie Bennet would have attended. In fact, the relative raciness of the trailer is what had me flashing back to Sanditon even before I learned that Bridgerton too is based on a book.

Sanditon is a unique period drama in that it is partially based on a book written by Jane Austen, but Austen died before she could finish it, and I've read enough Austen to be pretty confident that there were some elements (including a touch of incest) that wouldn't have made it to the page from her pen. The leading man had a habit of looking at the leading lady with more heat than expected from the typical Regency adaptation, and I think the trailer footage is enough to suspect that Regé-Jean Page's Duke of Hastings isn't going to be especially shy with his eyes either.

Of course, Sanditon was also pretty anachronistic, and Bridgerton definitely seems to be doing the same, but seems unlikely to be a bad thing. For fans of Sanditon, which aired in late 2019 in the U.K. and early 2020 in the U.S. on PBS, Bridgerton could be just the thing to attempt to cope with the lack of a Season 2 to deliver some closure on the immensely frustrating Season 1 finale. In fact, as a Netflix production that doesn't have to abide by network standards, Bridgerton could deliver elements that Sanditon only touched on, but in extremes.

Plus, while this upcoming season of Bridgerton seems to be based largely on Daphne Bridgerton and therefore the first book in Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, there are another seven novels in that series. Netflix has a lot of potential ground together, and Shonda Rhimes has the magic touch when it comes to producing hits. Just look at Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal!

As somebody who has watched my fair share of Jane Austen adaptations going all the way back to all-girls high school assignments, I felt like I should be clutching my figurative pearls watching Emma and Knightley dare to kiss before tying the knot in Emma (2020), so I'm excited to see where the apparently scandalous Bridgerton is going and what it could mean for the genre. Also, as somebody who had myself convinced until the final moments of Sanditon that the show surely wouldn't actually end with the main couple in such dire romantic straits, it feels good to know than this is a Shonda Rhimes production.

All things considered, Bridgerton appears primed to deliver some period drama action for viewers who like a little edge to their Regency era stories, whether or not they were burned by Sanditon's unsatisfying ending. The full first season of Bridgerton releases on Netflix on Christmas Day at 12:01 a.m. PT. For some viewing options that definitely won't involve Regency scandals that would make Jane Austen heroines blush, check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).