Apple TV’s The Buccaneers Is Not Quite Bridgerton

The Buccaneers
The Buccaneers /

For fans of Bridgerton who are looking for something a little less sophisticated, Apple TV’s The Buccaneers is a good show for you. It is easy to draw a comparison between the two period pieces that take place surrounding the British season of dating and marriage.

The main difference between the two shows is that The Buccaneers follows a group of rebellious and outgoing young American women who struggle to fit into the elegant and strict English society they are suddenly surrounded by.

The central characters, Nan, Conchita, Lizzy, Mabel, and Jinny take on different roles in English society, from wives to engagements. Of course, love triangles play a role in the adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel.

However, if what you are looking for is rebellion in high society England, Bridgerton has that covered as well, and in a way that makes the series far less confusing to comprehend.

The Buccaneers wants to be available to the present-day audience, and in doing so, uses a mix of dialogue from 1800s England to phrases and behaviors that would likely be far more used in the present-day world. The music wants to be contemporary, but in a time where songs like these would not have existed, just comes across as if the audience is hearing a drastically different tune than whatever song would be played at the actual ball the group is attending.

Bridgerton smartly worked around that problem, including modern-day music into the story in an instrumental format. Leaving out the lyrics and only using an instrumental melody allows the audience to recognize the familiar song. But, as it leaves out its original format and lyrics, the song feels more proper in the background of the dance and allows the sense that the characters and audience are all hearing the same song.

Granted, The Buccaneers is not the first period piece to blend dialects. Dickinson actively incorporates different ways of speaking into the characters. But Dickinson is meant to be a comedy, and the show’s approach allows it to work in a way that The Buccaneers does not pull off.

The Buccaneers is fun enough. The show’s central female characters fully embrace a desire to have fun on their own terms beyond being married to whatever man or suitor approaches them. The theme of independence is very present. The conflicts Nan faces regarding her family and what that could mean for marriage add an extra layer of interest to her character.

The Buccaneers
The Buccaneers on Apple TV+ Nov. 8, 2023 /

Unfortunately, The Buccaneers is not doing enough with its central romances to compete with how Bridgerton has already taken claim to such an important part of the story.

Bridgerton is all about working up to the romance. While there may be an immediate connection, it takes time for the feelings and attractions to work their way into the characters. It gives the audience something to root for until the grand love confession.

The Buccaneers, even though only the first few episodes have aired, have already delivered on two married couples, an engagement, and a love triangle. None of them are particularly easy or exciting to root for.

The stable marriage between Conchita and Richard bounces from in love to argumentative and back far too many times to figure out just where their connection lies. Are they good for each other, and they can survive the troubles surrounding Richard’s family’s expectations? Or, is Conchita’s hatred for being silenced and placed in a corner just too much to bear for a role in high society? Can Richard truly embrace Conchita for all she is? Or will he keep allowing her to be silenced for the sake of society?

Jinny and James are problematic and impossible to root for. Instead, it is far easier to hope for a divorce, given James’ treatment of her and Lizzy. There are just so many red flags here.

As for the love triangle between Nan, Guy, and Theo, The Buccaneers does work to make sure that it is never necessarily an easy determination to pick who, if either of them, is the better for Nan.

Neither of them is far more developed than the other, so it allows for potentially mutual interest in becoming curious and invested in her romance with either of them. Far too often, there is an obvious choice and one who is only there for drama.

Nan definitely has far more to worry about than a romance, as a massive reveal about her past has her questioning her identity.

As for Mabel, a growing romance with Honoria is only just starting to grow, but it also has one of the slower developments of any of the show’s pairings, which allows it to be one of the more intriguing ones.

The Buccaneers
The Buccaneers on Apple TV+. /

Unfortunately, they tend to pale in comparison to Bridgerton, which thrives on slow builds and explosions of passion. Each couple in that series has been given more time to get to know each other before they actually claim to have fallen in love. The audience gets to experience the ups and downs of their relationship with them.

The rebellion in that series comes from Eloise, who is completely uninterested in society and finds more fun in mocking it than participating. However, she does it with a sense of humor, enjoyment, and charisma that still allows her to be an integral part of the show.

Nan’s comments about the young women being treated as cattle rather than smart and funny human beings is an important acknowledgment. Women are people, not objects to buy or bid on.

The Buccaneers is a fun enough show, and trying it may offer the chance to enjoy something new. But, if what you’re looking for is a romance worth getting emotionally invested in and characters that promise complex relationships, you are better off watching Netflix’s Bridgerton.

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