From Bridgerton to Pride and Prejudice why we have spent the last twenty years falling in love with period pieces. Between the romance and duels, period pieces have it all.
The scarcity of technology
In a time where our phones are glued to our hands and various forms of media attack us everywhere, escaping into a time without the distractions of the modern age can seem absurd yet freeing. Consuming a form of media that describes a lifestyle without technology, the pinnacle of our society, is perhaps why we love period pieces. It provides a glimpse of what life could be like if we were released from the clutches of our tech-centered outlook on life. Period pieces also demonstrate a lifestyle of complete absorption, even the simple act of brushing hair or walking through the countryside becomes romanticized and completely absorbs the person involved. Perhaps it is this absorption we crave, and perhaps it is the distraction of technology that prevents us from obtaining it.
The whimsy of it all
I had someone tell me recently that we forget to be whimsical in our everyday lives. There is no frolicking, giggling, and certainly no blithering in our lives, hence the playfulness we see in period pieces is innately alluring. Being able to paint the past as whimsical allows us to immerse ourselves in the creative freedom while helping us see the whimsy in our own lives. The beauty behind shows like Bridgerton is the fictional reality that is based on fact. Although 1840 did truly occur and many of the societal norms portrayed in the show did exist, the creatives behind the show are able to add beautiful embellishing features. Features that successfully convince us that a time in which people had holes instead of toilets and women had no rights was enviable and beautiful. Period pieces reveal the whimsy in the everyday and force us to see it too.
The impractical yet beautiful fashion
Every day in the world of Bridgeton people dress like they are about to head to the MET Gala. Based on the regency period of England’s history we see typical outfits of the time, dresses with low and wide necklines, high waistlines, and the babydoll dress styles. Despite the obvious classic elements of this clothing, modern-day influence through the use of pastel colors and intricate design is clear. This is likely why Birdgerton in particular has had such an influence on the fashion world and the uptick in Tik Tok trends surrounding regency fashion. Although I greatly admire it, this wouldn’t be my wardrobe of choice when going about my daily life, as I doubt the corsets and floor-length gowns would be very cohesive with my lifestyle. In fact, it wouldn’t work for any modern-day woman’s lifestyle, perhaps there are a few very well-informed opinions behind the eradication of such attire in modern societies. However, watching Keira Knightly play dress up for an hour and a half does cause one to become slightly jealous that she is living out the Jane Austen main character dream.
The everlasting characters
The beauty of the classics that we now consider period pieces like Little Women, Emma, and Wuthering Heights, is that these characters are everlasting. Elizabeth Bennet is quite the ever-living charter, as she has essentially become the blueprint of all strong female leads, a woman who understands what she wants and will never settle for less. I know the conversation has slightly veered from the exclusivity of period pieces and turned towards the classics but we wouldn’t have period pieces without the classics. Truthfully, I’m not sure period pieces would be popular if Jane Austen had not been such a successful writer who created such fantastical yet relatable characters. This is something special about period pieces, each character has an in-depth story, although there is typically one main storyline with a clear lead, we also have very influential side characters that become essential to the development of the text. This alluring suggestion that everyone is the main character of their own story adds to the universal appeal of this form of media.