Editor's note: The below contains spoilers for The Buccaneers.
Apple TV+ released the first few episodes of earlier this month, and in spite of initial appearances and trailers, it's surprisingly not that similar to . Although both projects tackle the difficulties of the marriage mart during the 19th century, the latest adaptation of Edith Wharton's unfinished novel takes a much less glamorizing approach to the balls and matchmaking culture of the time. Instead of focusing on the blooming romance between two leads, a formula that is well-known for, the Apple TV+ original is centered on with their less conservative ideals and burning desire to win over the eligible British lords.
is set several decades after 's Regency era, but the urge for young girls to get married is present in both period dramas. However, the portrayal of the marriage mart couldn't be more different between the two shows. who have grown up free-spirited and less preoccupied with posture and sewing. They are much more accustomed to running around in their bare feet than taking an afternoon tea, so it comes as no surprise that these characters face culture shock when they arrive in England. Although some can camouflage their way into the British setting (especially Imogen Waterhouse's Jinny St. George), others (like Alisha Boe's Conchita Closson) face more of a never-ending nightmare. Yet, in order to fit in, they must adhere to England's more conservative customs to earn the appeal and approval of the eligible bachelors.
While the marriage mart is portrayed as ruthless for ' lively American girls, places less focus on the trials that its female characters face in trying to find a husband. The two seasons of the Netflix series portray couples who fall in love and successfully find happiness as a result of the matchmaking culture. Daphne Bridgerton () receives the title of "diamond of the season" early on and ends up married to the Duke of Hastings ( Regé-Jean Page) out of love. In Season 2, isn't the heroine who earns the Queen's ( Golda Rosheuvel) approval, but she still sees a happy ending with Anthony Bridgerton ( Jonathan Bailey). Although the circumstances that lead to both couples getting married aren't simple, they find a way to overcome their personal struggles and have a joyous family life after marriage .
The positive experience of marriage portrayed in is far from the reality that characters face in . The first Mrs. of the bunch is Conchita, and her marriage to Lord Richard Marable ( Josh Dylan) is constantly tormented by his family's unmet expectations and the frigid English culture. Jinny is the second to get wed, and she doesn't get that lucky either. Even though the character might've been successful at charming her in-laws, it is clear that her husband is always analyzing her every step and wants her to set herself apart from her American friends.
Both Conchita and Jinny are shown as victims of a system that they didn't quite anticipate when they accepted their marriage proposals, making them question their roles in society. Does being a wife equal a lack of freedom of expression? This is something they constantly question themselves as they try to fit into British female stereotypes, despite growing up with different morals and values. As Nan St. George () sees her sister and her best friend having to set their personalities aside to become the perfect wives, she wonders whether a wedding is even worth her time. After all, Nan doesn't see a lot of good coming out of the examples of marriage in her midst.
In addition to their differences in the portrayal of the marriage mart and its results, and tackle race and society distinctively. Despite having a diverse cast, the series itself doesn't bring up racism and prejudice that often. In the story, Queen Charlotte's powerful position in society as a woman of color allows members of the ton to embrace various races and ethnicities. However, in , the American girls are constantly criticized for their nationality. The Marables, for instance, mockingly attribute Conchita's loud and extroverted personality to her country of birth and her upbringing. She even has a meltdown in front of them during the ball in Episode 3, and arrives at the conclusion that their behavior is a sum of racism and prejudice.
The series also criticizes social class through Nan's storyline. Guy Thwarte ( Matthew Broome) catches Nan's attention from their first interaction, and likewise, he is interested in her too. Given that she comes from a wealthy American family, he finds her the perfect choice to be his wife. With a ring in his pocket ready to pop out at any second, Guy is taken aback when he finds out that Nan is actually a bastard, the product of her father's affair with another woman. He doesn't ask her to marry him, and when he changes his mind and tries to pursue her a second time, it is too late. By then, Nan has won over Theo ( Guy Remmers) with her humbleness and sweetness, and he proposes to her before revealing the fact that he is a duke. Now, Nan is left at a crossroads between following her heart and telling her fiancé the truth, which could ultimately ruin her chances of becoming a duchess. This social class dilemma in the series is also distinct from , where all the main couples onscreen don't have clashing social standings that could get in the way of their meant-to-be romance.
Although it might be easy to compare and at first glance, especially given their bright, modern aesthetic and a , they are unique in their own sense. More than that, they're equally worthy of appreciation for their diverging takes and the increased range they bring to the period drama genre.
The first four episodes of are already available to stream on Apple TV+, with the remaining episodes premiering weekly every Wednesday.