Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Why Netflix’s Bridgerton Should Be Hollywood’s Next Cinematic Universe

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Netflix’s gift to the world this Christmas is Bridgerton, an eight-episode season based on Julia Quinn’s bestselling romance saga. Shondaland’s first offering after extraordinary showrunner Shonda Rhimes stint on the streaming service, Bridgerton is a lavish adaptation of one of the genre’s most popular Regency romantic series. (Be sure to read our Bridgerton live review.) It’s a real romantic goodies bingo card: a fake relationship that becomes so real; mingle with families; burning jokes; societal drama; petticoats in abundance; and, of course, sex. It’s the kind of show that, once you’re done watching it, makes you wonder why it took a network (or, in this case, a streaming service) so long to do something. like that. a billion-dollar-a-year industry, made almost entirely by and for women, but the genre remains the black sheep of literature. It is the widely accepted punch bag of fiction that has never commanded the legitimacy of even previously ridiculed genres like science fiction and crime. The general image of romance fiction is, even in 2020, an assembly line of poorly written bodice dinghies designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. To rub salt on the wound, the strongest reaction to romance usually comes from people who haven’t read a single romance novel and proudly admit it.

Regé-Jean Page as Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, and Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton

It’s easy to forget that, in the old days, comics weren’t seen by skeptics as worthless (and potentially dangerous) until a critical renaissance paved the way for the multi-billion dollar industry of the Expanded Universes. that we have today. They were seen as lacking the leverage to tackle weighty topics, despite the obvious and deeply rooted socio-political foundations in work like the X-Men and Captain America.

Romance continues to surpass sci-fi, fantasy, and detective fiction, and just like the comics there is a romance novel to suit your type: historical, paranormal, suspense, western, horror, religious, fantasy, even dystopian. . The options are limitless. Sarah Marrs, writer for Lainey Gossip and Decider, notes that romance is ready for the big and small screen:

“As to why more romance novels should be given the same treatment, there is no reason not to. We are talking about one of the most popular genres of fiction which falls into several sub- genres such as paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy. All of these things are popular. Romance is popular. Why do not adapt romance novels, which are the links between all these things? “

For many years, romantic comedies were rife on the big screen, typically as star vehicles for actors like Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon. The genre fell out of favor in the mid-2000s when box office revenues plummeted, and eventually such stories seemed to disappear from the screen altogether, especially as the hit mold evolved to encompass the current trend. superheroes. In recent years, however, rom-com has seen a revival thanks to an unlikely source: Netflix. Some of the platform’s biggest hits in recent years have been romantic comedies like Always Be My Maybe, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and The Half of It, so it’s no surprise that this or the platform to broadcast the first. Honest adaptation to the goodness of novels – and trust the genre tropes enough to get things so good on the first try.

Netflix’s Bridgerton: Official Season 1 Photos

That’s not to say that romantic stories don’t exist in movies or on television; it’s that stories by and for women that put the interests, desires and aesthetics of women at the forefront are always seen as “niches”. Time and time again success stories in Hollywood should have proven otherwise, from the explosion of young adult romance adaptations like Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and The Fault in Our Stars to how networks like Lifetime, Hallmark and now Netflix have made entire seasons of their vacation-themed romantic movies. Still, when it comes to the romance genre, it’s rare to see something like Bridgerton get the nod, let alone embrace all the drama, costume and – again, of course – without excuse. the sex that helped make the books so successful.

As comic book stories aren’t just for men, romances aren’t just for women: everyone wants to watch Captain America save the day, but only girls care if Daphne Bridgerton and Lord Hastings will make their love come true. one for the other? To make the comparison more relevant, many popular romance series are as interconnected to their own multi-layered worlds as some comic book arcs. The stories intertwine and the characters reappear through several stories and places.

“Quinn’s novels are great for adaptation because it’s an interconnected world that’s not unlike a comic book universe, which viewers are really used to at this point, so that’s a point of ‘easy entry for the uninitiated,’ said Sarah Marrs of Lainey Gossip and Decider.

The Quinn series gives each of the Bridgerton siblings a book, but also explores the changing world around them. We do see this indeed in the series as various plot threads intermingle and new ones are introduced, setting the stage for other stories. Characters you’ve met or who have been the subject of another book appear in a sibling’s love story later, and there are even “second epilogues” that skip over. a generation ahead to offer new material to mine. It’s not unlike what Marvel Studios has done with their now iconic cinematic universe, though there are, admittedly, less explosions.

Most of the hottest romantic series spans many novels, spin-offs, prequels, and short story additions. They encompass dozens, sometimes even hundreds of characters, spread across time and place, with intertwined relationships that shape the world they live in. Meljean Brook’s Guardians series, for example, is eight books (plus several short stories) and teases a lush and skillfully developed world of angels, vampires, and demons that would bring shame within the grasp of George RR Martin. Like comic book arcs, these series spin in multiple directions, shift focus to encompass various characters, and always leave room for more.

Bree Bridges, co-author of the bestselling dystopian romance series Beyond, hopes the buzz surrounding Bridgerton will open doors to romance beyond the familiar. “While we’ve seen a pretty cool romantic comedy revolution on streaming media recently, I get frustrated at times that the vision for adaptable romance to the screen is so narrow. While romantic comedies are a kind of classic movie, they’re the smallest part of what the romance genre has to offer.The Bridgertons are a crack in that wall, but I’d love to see it burst big.

We’ve gone beyond treating sci-fi, detective novels, and superhero stories as tatting, but romance is left behind, both in the public imagination and in the public eye. vision of the entertainment industry. Female audiences have proven time and time again that they will be dedicated to such material and be the kind of fanbase that has become crucial in the oversaturated landscape of Peak TV. Just check out Twitter to see how well the hype for Bridgerton is working. MacKenzie Walton, an editor for Carina Press, notes the “ravenous audience” for romance that the worlds of film and television have, willfully or not, totally ignored.

Whatever trend the TV world is looking for, there’s a good chance there will be a bunch of romances that would be perfect for what Hollywood desires. Much like there are countless superhero stories to be pulled for content, romance has a ton of offerings on the table next to it.

The possibilities are endless, but only if Hollywood is prepared to pay attention. Like the world of comics, however, such adaptations can only be wholeheartedly undertaken. We must have suffered a lot of shlock with capes before we got to The Dark Knight and Black Panther, but once those stories found their way to the creators and producers with the focus, dedication and genuine love of the source material (as well as the funds to get it right), the game has changed forever. Put romance novels in the hands of people like the Bridgerton team, writers and directors who don’t give a damn about the romance stories and drama in them, and the magic won’t take long .

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