‘Bridgerton’ Plays It ‘Fast and Loose’ With Regency-Era Etiquette, Expert Says

At this point, it’s safe to say Bridgerton has cemented itself in pop culture. The show, which is an adaptation of a novel of the same name, first aired on Netflix in 2020 and immediately garnered tons of fans. As to matters of accuracy, Bridgerton plays it “fast and loose” with Regency-era etiquette, one expert says.

'Bridgerton' actors (L to R) Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma
(L-R) Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton and Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma | Liam Daniel/Netflix

‘Bridgerton’ isn’t too keen on Regency-era etiquette

Bridgerton takes place during the Regency era London during the social season and follows the nobility and gentry as they participate in the social season where the children of marriageable age are launched into society.

The Netflix show focuses on the eponymous family, which is believed to have hit the jackpot in genetics as the members are all dashing in their own right. Experts have questioned Bridgerton’s authenticity and accuracy, and many have urged audiences not to take it as a history lesson but solely as an entertainment vehicle.

Vanity Fair recently consulted with an etiquette expert Myka Meier who examined several etiquette scenes in TV shows and movies. Of Bridgerton, Meier said:

“This period, the Regency era, they were so particular, and they were so formal. Bridgerton really plays it fast and loose when it comes to the day-to-day etiquette that you see in almost every scene. It is, what we might say, a bodice ripper.”

Meier further recounted several incidents where the ultra-popular Netflix show strayed away from historical accuracy in etiquette. Showing a scene involving the protagonists, Kate Sharma and Viscount Bridgerton, Meier said:

“It was especially important at this time that when the lady came to a table, a gentleman would stand. But where they didn’t catch the formal etiquette here is that he actually sits before Kate sits, which wouldn’t have happened.”

She also recounted another scene where Kate Sharma insists on tagging along with the men to hunt, calling them out on the backward rule that forbids women to hunt. Meier said:

“This would have been a real eyebrow raise for the time period. A lady would not be invited on a hunt. Let alone during a formal gathering in this gorgeous dress to go with the gentlemen of the household.”

Meier also called to question the several times the characters have had private interactions with one another despite that being considered inappropriate. She said, “We know it wasn’t appropriate to be alone as an unmarried couple, and let’s just say a lot of these characters find a lot of time to be alone.”

Another faux pas that Meier didn’t mention was the expectation that women were only to be seen and not be heard from. As The Sun UK notes, it was improper for a woman to raise her voice at any given time. In season 1 of Bridgerton, Daphne met Prince Friedrich and laughed so hard that she snorted. This would have been considered inappropriate for a lady at the time.

The ‘Bridgerton’ peerage ranks

Queen Charlotte falls at the very top of the peerage ranks on Bridgerton, and Prince Friedrich follows closely due to his direct relation to a monarch. The Duke and Duchess of Hastings follow in third place as they are a step down from royalty.

The Viscount and the Viscountess (the Bridgertons) come in fourth while the Baron and the Baroness place last. This explains why the Featheringtons are always eager to boost their social standing. 

Lord and Lady aren’t necessarily peerage titles and are often used as umbrella terms for anyone with a peerage title except a Duke and Duchess, so Lady Danbury doesn’t have a higher social standing despite Bridgerton’s suggestion.

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