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Bridgerton, Netflix’s new series, follows the same pattern as other British historical dramas about pompous elites. Grosvenor Square basks in sunlight. Beautiful carriages pulled by powerful horses glide majestically along a brilliant street. A well turned out man out walking greets someone passing by.

This is where you realize that “Bridgerton” (which debuts on Christmas Day like a flaming pudding) is not just another British period drama about high society folks. The rich-looking man is black; while the gaily attired woman has white skin.

While this story line conforms to many of the criteria that define novels of the regency romance and society drama genres that follow each other, something changes with this version of London. That “something” is Shonda Rhimes.

“Bridgerton,” created by Chris Van Dusen (a co-executive producer of Rhimes’s “Scandal”) and based on the romance novels of Julia Quinn, marks Shondaland’s first original series for Netflix, after being a staple in ABC prime time lineup for years.

As with Ryan Murphy’s productions also found only on streaming services following his exodus from Network TV to those gold-paved production lots, there is an incredibly obvious upgrade in terms of budget and scale. But some themes remain constant.

Firstly, there is a commitment to sexy intellectual popcorn books. Second, she believes that people of color can have just as much fun, agency and range – and be just as evil – as anyone else.

Now escapism: “Bridgerton,” opens at the beginning of 1813 London courting season within its formalized rituals among high-society families scheming to match their eligible young ones. Occasionally narrated or set into motion by obituary references by Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), whose real identity functions like Gossip Girl mystery.

The big game is particularly tough for Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) with eight children to marry off, including her starry-eyed eldest daughter, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), who inconveniently insists on marrying for love. Trapped by unwanted faces that beg a punch, Daphne makes a deal with Simon (Regé-Jean Page), the roguish Duke of Hastings, to stage a faux courtship. She buys herself some time, he remains free; both claim they are not interested in each other.

This plan goes pretty much where you think it will but with some detours that show contemporary sensitivities. There are scandals and seductions as well as promenades and pecs and bodices.

But there’s also an unstuffy pop aesthetic (those balls include orchestrated arrangements of songs like Ariana Grande’s “Thank U Next”). And there is quite a bit of streaming-TV explicitness too starting from the sight of young man pulling down his pants while his less-than-coy girlfriend rubs up against him in front of a tree.

However, the most intriguing thing about this series is how mixed-race nobility came to be present in mid-season accidently through history and love. King George III (yes, the mad one) married Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel), who was mixed race (as some historians have claimed). As such, the Crown offered peerage positions to many people of color including members of Simon’s family.

It may be seen as alternative history, but in this account a lot of comparisons with actual history are simply swept under the rug. Is this newly progressive Britain still finding new lands to colonize? How did the new aristocracy acquire these vast estates? So how long did it take for racism to — apparently — disappear from the kingdom?

“Bridgeton” offers an aspirational fantasy that doesn’t care too much about the fine print and not everything is super serious compared to “Hollywood” by Murphy (where the 1940s motion picture industry turns racially enlightened) or David Lindelof’s “Watchmen” (that shows apocalyptic backlash after reparations). Like many of Rhimes’ previous endeavor, it is obviously there, but not all over.

The point of race matters here, but it is not every character’s story. Yet a flashback wherein Simon’s authoritarian father (Richard Pepple) tells him his family “must always be extraordinary” to maintain their status evokes memories of “Scandal,” which had Olivia Pope’s dad say that black folks like them had to be “twice as good” as white people so they could get half

As with recent series such as Dickinson and The Great, Bridgerton has taken narratives detailing women from past centuries and given them a 21st-century attitude, while keeping an eye out for female agency.

These scenes of sex are assertive in terms of stating their objectives when presented from women’s perspective and pleasure. For example, in this society, women have been made ignorant about what happens during sexual intercourse so as to control them. As Daphne learns sexually knowledge; knowing about her body can be powerful.

How women find power within this society acts as a through line for “Bridgerton.” For Lady Whistledown and Daphne’s free-thinking sister Eloise (Claudia Jessie), it comes through letters. For the conniving Lady Portia Featherington (Polly Walker) and Simon’s commanding aunt, Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh), it comes through manipulation.

To Queen Charlotte — a Brit who thrives on messiness — this offers control over her mentally deteriorating husband that she lacks in their marriage. (Additionally, her hunger for gossip as she consumes the love lives of her subjects like a 19th century version of an extremely online superfan makes her an audience surrogate).

But in terms of its style, the actual story mechanics of “Bridgerton” are much more conventional. The various marriage plots and melodramas feel familiar (and get dragged out in the back half of the season), and upstairs-downstairs class-consciousness is under baked.

However, what is effective about it is sufficiently fizzy and fun to be worth overlooking some flaws. Page has that indefinable star quality, capturing both Simon’s iciness and smoldering heat, his emotional guardedness as well as vulnerability. Dynevor also balances Daphne’s romanticism against her independent-mindedness, while the bow-chicka-wow-wow physical chemistry between these two leads is practically another character.

It’s just a solid tale wrapped up in beautiful modern trappings. However, “Bridgerton” has its own old-newness; Thereby making a statement by itself. This isn’t your great-great-great grandmother’s Regency romance on one hand. But maybe your great-great-great grandmother wasn’t so different from you after all?

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