Jan. 14, 2021

The New Ton: Bridgerton & Sanditon

The New Ton: Bridgerton & Sanditon

Who knew that Empire-waist dresses, waistcoats,  cravats and women discovering their own power could be so sexy? Well, fans of Regency romance know. It's all about the debs and the Dukes in this episode. These two shows are the place to start your new, fresh, modern costume drama love affair.


Fascinating interview with Bridgerton showrunner Chris Van Dusen. He talks about adapting the books, the mostly female writers' room, the female gaze throughout and a controversial sex scene.

The Duke and Daphne's first dance. With all kinds of fireworks.

Every costume drama dance scene is the best dance scene to me, but Oh This Dance. It's worth watching the entire season of Sanditon for this moment.


This is Confessions of a Closet Romantic, a podcast where I celebrate my favorite romantic TV shows, movies and books and talk in detail about why I love them so much. Without embarrassment or shame.  Mostly! This is Poppy and in this episode, the New Ton: the fresh costume romances of Bridgerton and Sanditon.

Have you all binged Bridgerton yet? I'm betting most of you have. This is the Netflix series  based on the series of Regency romances by Julia Quinn. It has been number one on Netflix for a few weeks now and has  a ton of people talking…

Okay, I planned on contrasting Bridgerton with Sanditon, another series set in the Regency era, and i'll definitely get to that later but on second viewing of Bridgerton, I can deny this overwhelming passion no longer.

Bridgerton is set in Regency London during the season, when marriagable young ladies of a certain class are presented to eligible young men. 

The gowns! The tiaras! The pomp! The handsome! The pretty! 


Luxurious houses, covered in wysteria dared into blooming.. Parties! Perfectly synchronized dances! With fireworks! Pop songs by Maroon 5 and Billie Eilish arranged for string quartet! Classy people living pampered lives!

People of romance, there's something for everyone here. Gender fluidity, open relationships, class warfare, ravenous sexual appetites, sexy times that polish every bit of furniture in the house, did I mention the kissing and lovemaking?


From the moment Simon, Duke of Hastings trots up on his black steed and uses the warrior dismount, you know you're in for some delicious romantic fun. The series has such a playful sexy tone. And the diverse cast is so great to see.

The action focuses mainly on the large Bridgerton family. Daphne Bridgerton is a typical debutante of her class — She knows she needs to marry but wants to marry for love, not money or position. 

Her brother suggests a dolt named Nigel, but he’s no match for smart, spirited Daphne. 

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When the dolt finds her alone in the garden one night, he presumes too much and tries to assault her, so Daphne punches him right in the eye. The Duke of Hastings is hiding out in the garden too, trying to escape an equally bad bargain.

So the Duke has a better idea. This long scene ends with them pressed up against each other, scheming and dancing, staring into each others eyes, shot from above, then in intimate close up. “Stare into my eyes. Closer…’ Did I mention that Bridgerton is a sexy show?


Whewwww. Two gorgeous people “pretending” to be attracted to each other. People of romance, we know how this is going to end, right? Yeah with both of them pretending that the whole aim is to find a partner for the other when the perfect one is staring them right in the face.

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And the pretend hotness doesn't end there. They keep fanning the flames of the charaaade as Daphne says —oh the look of distressed confusion on the face  of this curious, sheltered hothouse flower as Simon tries to explain the birds and the bees.

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 Oh I'm back —just drying my hair after my cold shower.

Lots of people are recommending Sanditon as one way to climb down from the Bridgerton high. Let me compare and contrast.

Sanditon is also set in the Regency era, it’s fresh and modern feeling, a bit  more serious and satirical, based on an unfinished novel by Jane Austen written at the end of her life. 

It's definitely less satisfying to watch if you’re not a fan of the slow burn, non-HEA romance.

But we're talking about Theo James as the romantic hero Sidney Parker , so… the meandering  journey is captivating for many reasons. 

The story follows brothers Tom and Sidney Parker, who are trying to develop the seaside town of Sanditon into a modern health resort. 

Charlotte Heywood is a young marriageable gentlewoman from the country who's invited to stay with them. She's more interested in having adventures than men courting her. She also has lots of smart ideas and opinions to share.

Oh how this rubs Sidney and all of society the wrong way. He’s arrogant and callous especially toward Charlotte, but  he gradually sees the light with the help of… guess who?… that's right.

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Hateful man. But Sidney Parker and Simon, Duke of Hastings have super satisfying emotional growth arcs in these stories. They learn that yielding just a bit, honesty, respect,  and a touch of vulnerability brings the intimacy they’re yearning for. 

Oh Sidney—poor sweet Charlotte saw the good in you under that gruff exterior and waited a long time for this moment.


Oh but Simon, you get the top personal growth prize.


in Sanditon,  the tension builds until Sidney finally realizes Charlotte is no fool, actually his perfect match as he takes her into his arms at a town ball. It's the most romantic scene in the whole show.

 Charlotte and Sidney are only inches apart and at one point her gloved arm snakes around his waist—It's intimate, sensual, lit by candlelight. Her eyes are in close up and never leave his face, drawing us right into the moment.

it's one of the most gorgeous dance scenes I've ever seen in a costume drama, next to the dances plus intimate dialogue in Bridgerton. All of them are unmissable. I know I say this a lot but really – I'll put any links I can find in the show notes.

Bridgerton is exuberant. It's the story of a powerful duke who won’t marry, banding together with a beautiful woman who must marry so they create a fake commitment—then fall for  each other anyway. It's full of romantic drama—pure romantic sugar.

Sanditon is a slow burn, still romantic, even if it does end with a mature “everybody grows up and learns that things don't always work out.” How clever of the writers to end  an unfinished story with a unresolved ending. Hmmmm... maddening, because Sydney transformed by love is a sight to behold.

Let's leave the ultimate transformed by  love scene to Daphne Bridgerton and Simon, Duke of Hastings, who reveal the raw romantic truth we crave. If we’re being honest.


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 Find show notes with links to what I've been babbling about at  confessions of a closet romantic.com 

Special shout out to my listeners in Australia hey it's So nice to have your company…until next time, wishing you shame-free transformative passionate romance!