Wonderland – Man About Town (2021)
January 4, 2021
On the cover of Man About Town, the star of Bridgerton gives us eight reasons to watch Netflix’s most bingeable and rauchy new period drama this Christmas.
Regé-Jean Page may be on the verge of global stardom thanks to a leading role in Netflix’s new show Bridgerton but he has no intention of shirking personal admin for the sake of fame. It’s the Thursday before Bridgerton hits the silver screen on 2020’s one true constant in everyone’s life and Page is having trouble juggling laundry with his interview schedule.
“I’m terrible at timing my washing load,” says the 30-year-old in a pronounced British accent and a charming smile. “I haven’t quite got the hang of balancing any of this.” All is forgiven as we quickly get into all things Bridgerton with him.
Inspired by the Julia Quinn novels and produced by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal), Bridgerton is set in 1813 Georgian London and alongside Page stars dreamboat Jonathan Bailey (Broadchurch), Phoebe Dynevor (Dickensian), the brilliant Nicola Coughlan (Derry Girls), Adjoa Andoh (Doctor Who) as well as Julie Andrews’ voice. And fortunately, given the year we’ve had, it isn’t your average period drama; unlike Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice or anything Jane Austen, Bridgerton doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s raunchy, refreshing and pokes fun at the snobbery and cleverly draws parallels to today’s society in a way that makes all its pomp and ceremony feel relatable in some way. Indeed, the fact that historians might wince at certain historical inaccuracies bodes rather well for everyone else.
“We’re delivering a really, really fun, hoot of a show for Christmas,” Page surmises. And he’s right.
Here are eight reasons why you should go and binge-on this period drama over Christmas…
It’s not your average period drama
“If you don’t really want a period drama this is the period drama for you because the whole point is to be something we haven’t made a hundred times over. We wanted to bring in perspectives that feel fresh, contemporary and highlight this universal thing of ‘people haven’t changed.’ We want the same things, we want to express ourselves, we want to come out from our parent’s shadows, we want to learn how to love people and how to be people worth loving. That is the year 1000, 1600, 1800, 2020, the year 3000. Those are the consensus, always. But for some reason, a lot of that hasn’t permeated the walls of this specific genre and so that’s where we saw an opportunity and that’s what hooked me. I’m excited because we’ve made something that brought light into the world at the end of a very, very long and exhausting and dark year.”
Bridgerton gets representation right
“Every single moment you’ve been educated till this point has primed you into a certain way of thinking so there’s a conscious effort to change that perspective [in Bridgerton] and that’s one of the things TV can contribute to. When you no longer centre whiteness as the default of all stories of humanity, it’s incredibly simple to include everyone in your perspective because everyone has always existed and had an inner and an outer life that has been fascinating and worthy of stories.
Masculinity is full of contradictions
“I hope that it shows masculinity has always been complex, somewhat at war with itself. When you’re dealing with a heavily patriarchal society, which is what we enjoy indulging in with period pieces, it’s worth seeing that with everything we’ve learnt in the past 200 years and what oppressive power structures do to people. They not only restrict women in society but also eat away at the inside of the people who are supposed to be at the top of the ladder. Enforcing a false power structure will eat away at you and deform you in its own contradictions. That’s what you see a lot of the men of the piece struggling with. So many of these problems would be solved so quickly if men could hug each other – that’s what Bridgerton says about masculinity.”
Adolescence in a nutshell
“Your parents see the world one way and you come through and learn new things and destroy all kinds of views your parents held. There’s a tension to that because you don’t want to betray your parents, you love them, and this is adolescence in a nutshell. How can you say your parents are wrong while not thinking they’re bad people? Every generation goes through that cultural revolution, it’s universal in 2020 but also 1813 and those parallels are what we work so hard to gently inject into the show without you realising they’re there until afterwards.”
The rakish Duke of Hastings
“Simon is very much an 1813 fuckboy, that’s what we’re dealing with here. We’re talking about what ideals are held up for men and celebrated but aren’t necessarily healthy, that are certainly hypocritical in terms of what behaviour is celebrated in men and chastised and shamed in women. That’s kind of where rake sits, in the middle of that. I have many feelings about that, probably too complex to put into words so instead we made some telly about it.”
Men need to stop suppressing themselves
“Emotional literacy is seen as a threat to masculinity but the second you stop doing that and just let it out, that’s what allows Anthony and hopefully Simon [by the end of the series] to be romantic heroes because they simply release the things that are generous and intelligent and sensitive and attractive to a 2020 sensibility. They just need to relax into them and stop suppressing them.”
Challenging the status quo
People of colour in Bridgerton do challenge the status quo but not necessarily as a form of calculated rebellion. It’s important to include black people and not just black skin on screen because then you see what a black life is and sometimes that challenges the status quo. We’re just out here living our lives but the difference is now we’re starting to do it in the same light as everyone else. It’s a beautiful, fun, Cinderella fantasy and the only difference is everyone gets to play.”
Regency style is restrictive
There is a whole other power to constantly being in riding boots and carrying that weight with you – people wore more restrictive clothing because the culture was more restrictive. Everything holds everything in and affects your body language in that way so Simon is constantly pushing against these self imposed, sartorial restrictions that are holding him in, restricting his movement, which is as much a conscious metaphor as it is just the fact that the times will dictate how you express yourself.”