Queen Charlotte review: A Bridgerton prequel that earns its pedigree

In the fifth year of her multi-million-dollar deal with Netflix, Shonda Rhimes added another jewel to her crown with the Bridgerton Extended Universe. Queen Charlotte, the new prequel to Rhimes’ Regency-era hit, is a sumptuous and thoughtful expansion of Julia Quinn’s world, delivering a story that flows as smoothly as a well-made blancmange.

At just 17, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Germany, finds herself betrothed to Britain’s King George III, a man she’s never met. Suspicious of the circumstances that led to her selection, Charlotte is thrust into a marriage with a distant husband and a demanding mother-in-law. However, as the first Queen of mixed race in British history, Charlotte realizes her position is more than just a personal matter; it’s a statement about the future of integration and equality in society.

Subtitled A Bridgerton Story, Queen Charlotte follows the established formula of the series. It portrays the challenges faced by George and Charlotte in their relationship, the pressures of society, and the personal struggles of the characters. The series expertly weaves in themes of interracial marriage, societal integration, and personal empowerment, providing a deeper exploration of the world first glimpsed in Bridgerton.

One of the strengths of Queen Charlotte is its portrayal of mature female characters. Characters like Lady Danbury and Violet Bridgerton are given more depth and agency, exploring themes of friendship, empowerment, and self-worth beyond childbearing age. These storylines add layers to the narrative and showcase the talent of the actresses involved.

Golda Rosheuvel shines as the present-day Queen Charlotte, balancing imperiousness with vulnerability, while India Amarteifio impresses as the young Queen, portraying a mix of confidence and vulnerability. Newcomer Arsema Thomas also stands out as the young Lady Danbury, bringing a sharp intelligence to her role.

While Queen Charlotte is only six episodes long, it leaves plenty of room for further exploration of its rich universe. Whether or not Rhimes and Netflix decide to continue the story, Queen Charlotte’s story is a compelling and engaging addition to the Bridgerton saga.

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