Why are Regency-era romances so popular?

·3 min read

Regency-era romances have been growing increasingly popular since the 2020s began and people are loving it.

One critically successful release showcasing Regency-era romance was the 2020 film “Emma,” a film adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel of the same name starring Anya Taylor-Joy. It’s widely considered to be the best adaptation of Austen’s “Emma” to date.

Another popular release is Netflix’s “Bridgerton.” It’s based on Julia Quinn’s book series which follows the Bridgerton siblings as they find love in Regency period England. The release of the first season and second season spawned an influx of “Bridgerton”-inspired memes, TikToks and trends online, turning the drama into one of Netflix’s most popular ongoing series. The third season is already in production and is highly anticipated by audiences.

Netflix’s “Persuasion” starring Dakota Johnson is the latest release to dip into the world of Regency and is a film adaptation of another one of Austen’s novels.

So what is it about romance during the Regency period that’s gotten viewers so hooked?

Old-fashioned romance

People have a lot of ideas about what romance was like back in the Regency period in England, most of them stemming from romance novels which grew popular during this time.

Works from authors like Austen and the Brontë sisters helped solidify the historical romance genre in the 1900s and are still being read today. They’ve gone on to inspire countless works, making their lasting mark on pop culture.

Exchanging handwritten letters, dancing in opulent ballrooms, being courted by dashing gentlemen, promenading through towns and subtle looks across rooms full of gossiping nobles all contribute to this fantasy of an epic romance bound by societal restrictions. This makes expressions of love all the more satisfying to watch unfold on screen.

The old-fashioned notion of romance as depicted by recent period films and dramas is ever enduring and rather appealing when one is already disenchanted by what passes as romance today.

An escape from reality

Fantasizing about frolicking around in beautiful dresses and being treated like princesses by well-mannered gentlemen is par for the course when watching Regency-era romances. In these fictional worlds, women are dressed in stunning empire waist dresses with elegantly styled hair. Men are smartly dressed and behave in a manner dictated by honor and etiquette.

Characters live in lavish mansions or beautiful cottages, free of social media and Covid-19. For people fed up with both, disconnecting from the internet, fleeing from society and setting up in the countryside sounds pretty nice.

Although these recent productions focus more on the romance and don’t often accurately depict the harsher realities of the period, they all have a more modern take on the genre, introducing new, diverse characters of race and sexual orientation and even touching on topics of feminism.

Ultimately, Regency-era romances give audiences an escape from reality—an opportunity to lose themselves in a world marked by a vastly different culture and lifestyle from their own.