Shonda Rhimes makes it quite clear from the outset that we shouldn’t anticipate a history lesson. The historical authenticity of Bridgerton has never been a priority, despite the fact that George III and Queen Charlotte were actual persons who lived in the Regency era, and this spin-off is no exception. To my astonishment, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story delivered one of the most realistic depictions of mental health I’ve seen in recent memory. I went into the film anticipating a sharp break from realism.
By the time George is introduced to us in Bridgerton, it is clear that he is dealing with dementia in addition to other inexplicable mental health problems. ‘Mad King George’ is generally thought to have experienced sporadic periods of bad mental health until a collapse caused him to resign from the Crown permanently, thanks to gaudy works of historical fiction that play mental illness off for laughs or shock.
Bridgerton, popular culture, and history have laid the foundational elements on which Rhimes builds her tale. Queen Charlotte is unflinching in its honest portrayal of mental illness, despite the fact that it is undoubtedly more fiction than history.
In recent years, our culture has become much more comfortable talking about concerns like anxiety and depression. But when it comes to dealing with more difficult illnesses like psychosis, there is a lot more ambiguity. Mental health disorders that require a departure from reality are frequently compared to a scary movie plot device or a surprise in a suspenseful novel.
Consequently, depictions in films and on television frequently fail to treat their characters with respect. They never go into the identity of the individual harbouring these illusions or the experience of loving someone going through a psychotic episode. However, Queen Charlotte distinguishes herself from the competition by not only tackling these subjects but also treating them with the highest care, empathy, and reality.
Like George in the Regency era, the young King’s illnesses are never precisely identified. However, Corey Mylchreest gives the character a deep vulnerability by depicting his famed, medically inexplicable “madness” as just a part of him rather than as a caricature that consumes him.
A really difficult aspect, sure. although not quite. It’s possible that Rhimes takes her time exposing this facet of George’s life because of how important that distinction is. The audience knows it’s going to happen, but we don’t witness it until we get a chance to get to know George personally.
This is obviously made easier by Mylchreest and India Amarteifio’s natural chemistry as a young Charlotte. The couple’s chemistry makes you want to cheer for them from the first episode, much as the other love tales that propelled Bridgerton seasons 1 and 2.
However, as their connection and other factors become increasingly intense, Queen Charlotte explores uncharted territory for Bridgerton. The writing and topics of the TV series are darker than those of its parent programme, but it succeeds because of the sympathetic performances of Amarteifio and Mylchreest.
Making an established figure your own is a challenging task, but India Amarteifio and Arsema Thomas both succeed with this. With their body language and mannerisms, they consistently pay homage to Queen Charlotte and Lady Danbury whom we know and love. However, they combine their mature personalities with the vivacious spirits of young women who are much less jaded by life, lack the benefit of hindsight, and are therefore much more driven by their emotions than they are by propriety. They are the lifeblood of the programme because they are gloriously unpolished, daring in their aspirations, and so on.