Did Shonda Rhimes’ version of Bridgerton work for you or do you prefer the book by Julia Quinn?
Did Shonda Rhimes’ version of Bridgerton work for you or do you prefer the book by Julia Quinn?

HT Brunch Sunday Debate: Play it by the book

A bookworm and a bingewatcher who’ve watched and read the books Bridgerton is based on argue which version works better
By Vivek Bhattacharyya, Ritika Passi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 06:54 PM IST

“The show was too sensationalised”

By Vivek Bhattacharyya

According to Vivek, the show is sensualised in classic Shonda Rhimes style because the vibe he got when he read the book
According to Vivek, the show is sensualised in classic Shonda Rhimes style because the vibe he got when he read the book

Bridgerton wasn’t gripping. There was no cliffhanger and I finished it in about five days. They reveal the narrator at the end of Season 1, which isn’t done in the book. This takes away from the plot too, because having a nameless narrator brings about another sense of intrigue.

The show was too sensationalised but then again that’s what Shonda Rhimes does – sensuality and seduction. When I read that she had said in an interview that she was drawn to the book due to the sensuality, it left me nonplussed because I didn’t get that vibe when I picked it up at the airport, a few years ago!

But what the show did get right was that the actors have been cast pretty spot on, at least according to my mind’s eye picturisation from when I was reading the book. Except for the diversity – that was impossible in the era in which it’s set.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo book was far ahead than the film adaptation: her bisexuality was highlighted unnecessarily. Game of Thrones and The Lord of The Rings adaptations had the same problem – filmmakers didn’t control their universe and it became chaotic. The Harry Potter universe has been well done as things aren’t just randomly put in.

I’m saddened to see TV shows replacing reading. It’s also triggering the reverse trend of reading the book after watching, but the ratio remains woefully inadequate.

Vivek Bhattacharyya, 29, is a government employee based in New Delhi, who finished reading the first two instalments of The Lord of the Rings in a day-and-a-half

The plot’s faithful, but for one jarring bit…”

By Ritika Passi

Ritika prefers Jane Austen adaptations though because there’s no one definite adaptation
Ritika prefers Jane Austen adaptations though because there’s no one definite adaptation

I binge-watched Bridgerton the day it released because I loved reading the Julia Quinn series, and I was curious what a Shondaland treatment would look like. The Duke and I, the first in the series and the focus of Bridgerton’s first season, isn’t my favourite, but I’m sold by Dame Julie Andrews as the narrator.

And the show doesn’t disappoint: it’s fun and frothy, visually appealing. The contemporary twist is delightful: a diverse cast, folded in very inventively; modern songs that get classical covers. And even though there are new characters, the plot points remain largely faithful – save that one jarring moment related to consent that I remember the author dealing with much better in the book. 

I generally stay away from screen adaptations of books that have struck a chord, but Jane Austen adaptations are a weakness – possibly because there’s no one definite adaptation. Autumn de Wilde’s Emma was refreshingly tart; The Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series shows the characters of Lydia and Mary in a way not done in Pride and Prejudice. North & South is another favourite: in this rare case, I prefer the BBC adaptation to the actual book.  

Watching adaptations of ‘lighter’ classics works for me, and while I’ve loved reading Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books, I’m looking forward to Anthony’s story in the second season of the Netflix series!

Ritika Passi, in her 30s, is a Delhiite working as an international affairs analyst, whose Christmas gift to herself was bingeing on Bridgerton

From HT Brunch, February 28, 2021

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