We have come a long way since the days of gender inequality and corsets.
There’s no denying we still have a long way to go on each of these fronts and many more. Yet, millions of us around the globe consistently and repeatedly gather around to watch an aesthetic, glamorised view of our human past. Whether it’s for Simon Basset of Bridgerton, Elinor Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility, or the ever-enduring Mr. Darcy.
So, what’s the allure? It’s likely a combination of factors.
They hark back to a simpler time.
In this new mid-pandemic world, where the prospect of home confinement seems always around the corner – a period drama represents an escape to a ‘simpler time’. Similar to the rise in prominence of cottagecore lifestyles and aesthetics, period dramas represent an idealised world where one’s only concerns appear to be the colour of their slippers and the empty spaces on their dance card. Obviously, this isn’t the whole truth, and the people of the 19th century faced numerous epidemics with no known cures, killing millions. Still, a period drama does a great job of letting us bask in nostalgic bliss.
They remind us of what’s important
While daily life in the 19th century couldn’t be more different from the realities of daily life in 2021, we cannot help but recognise ourselves in the character’s lives. The reality is people haven’t evolved much in the last three centuries – at least in the relationships front. We are all people, with our own faults, who make mistakes, and we’re all searching for the same things. Meaningful pursuits, and meaningful relationships.
The stakes were higher in the 19th century. Love wasn’t just a fling. Finding love was a passionate, romantically all-consuming pursuit that filled the minds of women and men alike. With underlying tension and lust, each conversation was an opportunity to confess undying love for one another – it’s no surprise the passionate conversations between lovebirds in a period drama keep us glued to our screens.
The charm of a period drama is timeless. If Bridgerton making history as Netflix’s most-watched series ever is anything to go off, there is much more to the show than Simon’s abs. You only have to compare Bridgerton to say, the abs in Magic Mike to understand the sticking power of 19th century Europe.
“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; – it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen