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There is a moment in Queen Charlotte, and we are swept up in the moment with them, when they are suspended in the bliss of each other and world around them fades away; in that moment he is Just George and she is Charlotte who did not go over the wall. It is a moment filled with an eternity, although fleeting, it lasts and lasts and lasts and carries us through.
Queen Charlotte is a timeless love story, one for the ages, it is there, in the mere presence of both characters, in the way they look at each other, a look reserved only for each other, in the slight of touch of their hands, in moments of madness and pain… the love sings off the screen by the two of them just being on our screens. What Shonda Rhimes and Julia Quinn have created from scratch is a story wrapped up in love, for love and only love, its many layers and complications and heart breaks and happiness this is all about love. Push and pull, smash to pieces and put back whole, crash and burn, and in the midst of the chaos they find each other and it is just “you and me” in their world but we are right there with them.
This is a story of a young queen who leaves her home and all she knows and loves, is brought and bought into a foreign land to marry a young mad king, saves his kingdom, adopts a new country as her own, with its foreign language and food and mannerisms and quirks and for better or worse, in the loudness of the madness, love is loudest.
Let’s take it from the top; this is the back story of the much loved older characters, a series that gives them a life before the lives we have come to know them in. This cast, this darling cast, India Amarteifio and Cory Mylchreest need to be cast in a romcom asap because I will watch the hell out of it. She plays young Queen Charlotte and he, young King George. This cast is sublime, between the old and young there is a perfect semblance right down to the gait, the feelings they evoked, their mannerisms. There was no disparity, no question, because what young George felt, we felt with old George, what older Queen Charlotte felt, we felt with young charlotte… we were rooting for Young Lady Danbury and hoping she grew old with Lord Ledger, good times and sad times, the King’s madness and his fears, we felt it, we lived it, we loved it all.
As with every love story, it is a tale as old as time, boy meets girl, and gets the HEA at the end but this is so much more because this story explores the layers of love, in the present and after life, the layers of love in grief, love of a loved one who will not always be in the present with you but you will be assured they know you are there with them and for them. Love in the age of mental health, at a time when there were no words to lend to its description, love in widowhood, self-love, love of a life time, love and sex, love and companionship, love in an age when it was forbidden, love forgotten but making its way back to you… get it ? It explored the many complex layers of love. How does one learn to love again after losing the love of their life? How does the sexual awakening happen? How do they make do with it? Queen Charlotte explores this.
This limited series gave life to a lot of our faves from the original Bridgerton series, the characters whom we have grown to love; Lady Danbury, now I was not really so keen on young Lady Danbury for the simple fact that I wanted her to be more for Queen Charlotte. An ally, a friend, not simply a channel by which she can elevate her newly inherited status in the Ton. I liked her a lot, I just wished she was a better friend to her, I wanted what she has with Coral her maid, I wanted them to plot together, I wanted her in on Charlotte’s secret so it didn’t feel like she, Charlotte, carried the weight herself… I simply wanted more of a bestie vibe. Whilst we got some of it in the end, and yes I understand it was a mode of survival for her and her gross husband and the wider community of people of Colour who were newly being recognised in society… I get all of that and yet, yet, I wanted her to be the one soldier in Charlotte’s arsenal that she could rely on. Now old Lady Danbury, will always have my heart and having survived all she did, I get it, I absolutely get… sorry I am complicated like that. The much loved and lovely Dowager Bridgerton has some of her story fleshed out; we see her as a young sweetheart, her darling relationship with her father, her bitch of a mother, and we are thankful she took after her darling Papa. I love that we got to see her grappling with loneliness and trying to come out of the grief and heartbreak that has held her hostage for so long having lost her husband. How does one even begin to love again whilst trying to hold on to the memories of the past?
There is a complication in certain types of friendships that garners a particular kind of love between friends, I found this to be the case with Lady Danbury and Dowager Bridgerton because you see, young Lady Danbury had an affair with the Dowager’s father and I for one, was here for it because her mother was a bitch and a racist. I mean, it is more than that, it is more than her deserving of this, but Lord Ledger and Lady Danbury were soul mate and life partners, for all of five seconds too late if only they’d met in an alternate universe five seconds earlier. And she has never really stopped loving him. She kept that silly paper hat stored away for years, because it reminds her of a love and the glimpses of a time when it all felt possible. The master chess move is the scene when the Dowager, having seen the hat after a visit to Lady Danbury, invites her to tea and there is a moment where their conversation skirts around, but both knowing exactly what the other was talking about, Good God! What a scene, a masterclass; in saying so little it said every single thing that needed to be said.
Brimsley… my entire heart for that man, young and old. It is something to behold when we understand the depth of his service to the Queen, telling especially in the moment when she asks about his family, and there is almost a tsk in his tone when he answers, as if wondering if she did not know that she is his family and will remain so until the day he dies. It is a life of service and love, he might just be her one other true love because his entire life is given for Queen and country, to the death. And always five paces behind. But his love story with Reynolds the Kings footman, is truly where some of the more quiet scenes pack a punch and I wish we had more of Reynolds in this, I wish they’d grown old together. The scene where Young Brimsley dances to I Will Always Love You with Reynolds and it transitions to Old Brimsley dancing alone, but still holding on to Reynolds in his imagination, has to be the second best scene of this entire series but this is really is an epic love story between the two of them and this scene encapsulates everything.
I love, absolutely love that all these characters get a fullness of life in these series, they are not cast in the shadows of Bridgerton Seasons 1 & 2, Shonda Rhimes does not bother to do too much, she simply goes back in time to weave supremely the threads and origins of a love story we have already seen transcended. It is rare that flashbacks be the meat on the bones but in Queen Charlotte they provide a scintillating story that gives us a look at the origins of the Ton, giving the denizens their own back story all the while enhancing the entirety of its franchise and what a treat this is.
I love a love story, and this is a love story told so beautifully and true and pure. The story of Queen Charlotte and Farmer George, because of all his iterations, I love Farmer George the most, is simply beautiful to behold. The hard fought love of two people from different worlds almost, who find each other at the right moment, six minutes to pledging a lifetime to each other… this is about heart and soul, coming as you are and seeing the other person for what they are from the second you meet them. And it takes me right back to the beginning, that darling opening scene, because there are many scenes in this series that move us, this first scene encapsulates a love story for the ages, it is in that small sigh from George when he meets Charlotte for the first time, that first touch… I always say Shonda tells a story through hands like no other, this scene goes on for several more minutes and it sets us up for the series, locks us in and gains our trust, because there and then, they are between the heaven and the earth; she tells him who he is by him telling her who he is and he sees her for who she is because the choice of a life with him is entirely hers to make. As if he knows, as if he’s always known.
They always knew.
Queen Charlotte, A Bridgerton Story is now streaming on Netflix