Expectations are a tricky aspect of watching films and television. As a critic, I try to keep them at bay because they can unfairly influence my take on the project I’m watching; however, I am only human and can’t always help myself from catching hype for a film or series. In the case of Netflix’s new spin-off series Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story I don’t think I will be alone in finding the show to be disappointing and not in keeping with the established tone and genre of the series. It’s not necessarily bad just not what I want when I sit down to watch Bridgerton.
Part of the problem is this is loosely based on a true story where the Bridgerton series is based on the novels by Julia Quinn. There is some conflict in the boddice-ripping books but the main appeal is a campy, bit over-the-top love story with a little bit of mystery involving the town gossip Lady Whistleton thrown in. In contrast, with Queen Charlotte we get a relentlessly grim period piece light on the romance and heavy on a marriage in crisis and King George getting tortured for his mental health problems.
All of the performances are good particularly from India Amarteifio as young Charlotte who makes for a convincing younger version of Golda Rosheuvel as the adult Charlotte who we have come to know in the previous Bridgerton series. We do see the older Queen, and get a very dry subplot of her trying to convince her 13 children to produce legitimate heirs but it’s nothing to fun or exciting.
We also have a young Lady Danbury (Arsema Thomas) who struggles in a loveless marriage. She plays a double agent of sorts both befriending Charlotte and sharing information she learns with Princess Augusta (Michelle Fairley.) I thought more drama would come from this betrayal but it really didn’t. Adult Lady Danbury’s story with Violet Bridgerton is also underwhelming.
I don’t want to spoil the series but suffice it to say I found it dry, dour, and frankly no fun. Literally the only light scene of the series is the meet-cute between Charlotte and George they show in the trailer. If people are going into it expecting a grim, dark, sad period piece than they may enjoy it more than I did, but especially with how precious my series watching time is, I can’t recommend this experience. We all know about the madness of King George but that doesn’t mean I want to spend 6 episodes wallowing in it.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story does have some steamy scenes, but they are mostly a part of royal duties to create an heir so not that romantic or exciting. I am sure some people will appreciate the realism here but it isn’t for me and was a big disappointment.
4 out of 10
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