Tag Archives: Netflix

What Went Wrong with Netflix’s Persuasion?

What was it that Shakespeare said? “My kingdom for a decent adaptation of Persuasion?” Some versions have gotten close, but we’ve yet to land on a definitive take (unlike, say, Pride and Prejudice, which is done, now please leave it alone forever). The latest brave soul to take a crack at Jane Austen’s final novel is Netflix, who takes misinterpretation of the source material to soaring new heights in an adaptation that is not only just plain bad, but bafflingly off-base. And it seems that many of us have taken that personally. By now, plenty of hilariously dramatic thinkpieces have been written on the ways in which this version fails. But all the hubbub got me thinking: there have been plenty of terrible movie adaptations of beloved books before. Why is this one so offensive? 

First and most obviously, it takes Austen’s most mature, melancholic, pensive work about lost love and regret and tries to jam it into the shape of a romantic comedy. Then there’s the questionable dialogue, which switches wildly between the 19th and 21st centuries without any rhyme or reason (there’s a scene where protagonist Anne Elliot’s sister asks her how she would dance to Beethoven. Anne: “Alone in my room, with a bottle of red.” Where is the Beethoven playing from, in this scenario? Her Spotify account?), and also has the subtlety of a sledgehammer (I particularly enjoyed the scene where the mustache-twirling villain Mr. Elliot fully lays out his dastardly plans to sabotage Anne’s father’s relationship in the style of a Bond villain—and Anne has no problem going shopping with him later). The romantic lead Captain Wentworth—who carries himself with a dignified, wounded pride in the novel—has the air of a boxer who has taken one too many hits, always seeming a bit dazed; I have a hard time believing this version of him could craft the iconic “I am half-agony, half-hope” letter.  

Continue reading

Bridgerton: The Allure of the Regency

On April 12, join us for Lady Whistledown Presents: A Bridgerton Soirée for an evening of decadence and discussion as we take on the Ton of London’s high society! For ages 18+.

When Brigderton first premiered on Christmas Day of 2020, it wasn’t long before streaming numbers exploded and the historical romance was crowned the most-streamed show in Netflix history. Despite the period setting, it always had the makings of a hit: a Shondaland production, a Jane Austen-meets-Gossip Girl (with an R rating) plot, gorgeous costumes, and an even more gorgeous cast. Throw in the fact that we were all still locked in our homes and needing some form of breezy distraction, and voila! The show has since been bumped from the top spot by Squid Game, but let’s see where season two lands. If you’re like me, you’ve probably devoured season two of Bridgerton by now—perhaps more than once. 

Season two of the show is based on The Viscount Who Loved Me, book two in the Bridgerton book series by Julia Quinn. I confess that I myself have never read the books, so I can’t speak to the show’s faithfulness—but what I can speak to is the pivot to a more traditional Regency style: season two trades the graphic love scenes for simmering tension, barbed snipes, and charged glances. And honestly, the show is all the better for it. Our mains this season are Viscount Anthony Bridgerton, eldest of the siblings, and Miss Kate Sharma, who comes to England from India in order to find a match for her younger sister. It’s the enemies-to-lovers story we’ve been waiting for! Anyone who was despairing over the lack of season one’s Duke, do not fear: these two more than make up for the loss. 

I’ve long been a fan of period dramas, and I’ve seen just about every Jane Austen adaption to date (you better believe I’m already hyped for the upcoming Persuasion movie starring Dakota Johnson). And I’m certainly not alone! Regency is the most popular subgenre of romance fiction; next time you’re at the library, just take note of how many paperbacks feature dukes and women in period-inappropriate dresses. It’s a lot! But what makes this extremely niche time period so alluring, 200 years later? The Regency period was, quite literally, only nine years in English history (1811-1820). Nine! So what gives? 

Continue reading

The Grishaverse Comes to Netflix

shadow and bone coverOn April 23, Netflix will debut its newest highly anticipated adaptation: Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. As a Bardugo fan, I find myself to be both excited and a little apprehensive, which is par for the course for adaptations. Will the show do the book you love justice (e.g. Normal People), or will it be completely unrecognizable (e.g. The Turn of the Screw-turnedThe Haunting of Bly Manor)? Borne from a very specific, early 2010s trend in YA fantasy, this series has been a long time coming. For fans of YA literature, having your faves picked up by Netflix is like a dream come true, even if Netflix’s adaptation history is spotty (did anyone see the ending of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? What was that?!). Netflix is not beholden to the rules of network television, so there’s less chance that the story will be tampered with in order to appease a mass American audience—which is good news for this series, which tends towards dark subject matter and generally more “adult” themes. What’s more, without bending to please middle America, Netflix adaptations are more open to showcasing diversity (see their ultra-popular To All the Boys film trilogy, which previous studios had attempted to whitewash). 

Truthfully, I’m surprised the powers that be chose to adapt Shadow and Bone nowis it me, or is this sort of trilogy-based, post-Hunger Gamesone-girl-to-save-them-all narrative a bit passéIt has, after all, been about a decade since it first took off. Which is why I’m a bit miffed that, rather than simply adapt Bardugo’s (objectively!superior Six of Crows duology, Netflix has decided to combine the two series into one show. The two might take place in the same universe, but genre-wise and tone-wise they are drastically different: Shadow and Bone revolves around Alina Starkov, an unremarkable orphan who discovers she is actually very remarkable indeed. After the blossoming of her powers, she enters the high-society world of the powerfully magical Grisha, and attempts to take down The Fold, “a swathe of impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh” that is threatening the alt-Russia nation of RavkaSix of Crows, meanwhile, centres on a gang of disparate criminals called the Dregs in the Amsterdam-esque city of Ketterdam, after the events of Alina’s story have already concludedI think most fans would agree that between the two, Six of Crows is more worthy of an adaptation. In fact, its ingredients seem ready-made for television: illicit gang activity, a bunch of traumatized misfits finding family with each other, heist action, slow-burn romance, a city setting so fleshed out you can almost smell the corruption. In comparison, Shadow and Bonewhile still compelling, just doesn’t hit the same way 

Continue reading