10 Ways Netflix’s Bridgerton Is Better Than Downton Abbey (& Vice Versa)

As two of the biggest historical dramas of the past decade, comparisons between Downton Abbey and Bridgerton are inevitable - so which is best?

Netflix has really been bringing the heat this year, which might just be maybe the single highlight of 2020; we needed a win this year. Television lovers have been spoiled with shows like The Umbrella Academy, Ratched, Anne with an E, and Tiny Pretty Things, and documentaries like Tiger King, Alien Worlds, and Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez. Netflix has also capitalized on people’s love of period pieces with the series Bridgerton.

Bridgerton, a show based on the books of the same name, is quickly becoming a fan favorite, binge-worthy flick. Many compare it to Downton Abbey, and while the two shows share some underlying similarities, fans are enjoying comparing the differences. Which one reigns supreme, however? The jury is out regarding whether Downton Abbey is the better period piece or if Bridgerton has unseated it.

10Bridgerton’s Better: Much More Scandal

A good period drama will have some scandal and intrigue, but many claim that Bridgerton brings drama to a whole other level. Some are comparing it to soapy television favorites like Gossip Girl. Not only are the storylines daring, but the narration in Bridgerton is narrated much like the narration in Gossip Girl. Bonus: An icon and treasure takes over the narration role as Lady Whistledown.

9Bridgerton’s Better: The Scores Are Catchy

Bridgerton is a period drama, showcasing plot lines, characters, and costumes from another time, but one aspect of the show sits firmly in the modern era camp. The songs used in Bridgerton are very up to date.

The series’ creators chose to use songs by Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Maroon 5, and Ariana Grande for a very good reason. They wanted to make it clear that Bridgerton is not the same as former comparables. It’s edgy, modernized, and full of surprises.

8Downton Abbey Reigns Supreme: Exquisite Cast

Bridgerton clearly took a note from Downton Abbey’s book when it landed Dame Julie Andrews in the role of Lady Whistledown. Downton Abbey has its own OG actress working behind the scenes, and that is Maggie Smith. Smith is an acclaimed actress, to be sure, starring in movies like Harry Potter, Gosford Park, Hook, My House in Umbria, and Becoming JaneDownton Abbey also has several well-known cast members who help make the series impressive, including Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery, who also starred in Anna Karenina.

7Bridgerton’s Better: It’s Progressive

The time period that shows like Bridgerton take place in are anything but progressive and female-centric. They take place at a time where women were often thought of as second class citizens. After watching a few episodes of the series, it is easy to see that the ladies of Bridgerton are anything but wallflowers. The show stays true to the period but gives fans elements of feminism and progressive thoughts and attitudes.

6Downton Abbey Reigns Supreme: It Broke Molds

Because the PBS series is considered the kind of show that broke molds and introduced fans to something new and exciting, many will always consider it supreme. Yes, Bridgerton takes a known premise and twists it up, but some fans of the genre claim that Downton Abbey broke those molds first, and everything else that ever follows will only be a spin on the fantastical original series.

5Downton Abbey Reigns Supreme: Celebrity Following

To be fair, Bridgerton has not had ample time to garnish a celebrity following, and only time will tell if it reaches the heights of such status. Downton Abbey quickly became a sensation among the public as well as celebrities. The pop-cultural icon and cult classic is a favorite series with stars such as Katy Perry, RuPaul, and Michelle Obama. With fans like them, it hard to deny that Downton Abbey has that something special.

4Bridgerton’s Better: More Diversity In The Cast

Downton Abbey is a spectacular work of television art, and many consider it to be the best period drama to date. However, those who think Bridgerton is better point to its modern upgrades as why this new series is edging out the old favorite.

Not only is the music modern and the plotlines more feminist and progressive, but the cast is far more diverse than Downton Abbey’s. Leave it to the great Shonda Rhimes to present race in a period piece.

3Downton Abbey Reigns Supreme: Some Fans Appreciate Downton’s Authenticity

Bridgerton strives to be outside of the box compared to its predecessor. While Downton Abbey references racial issues, it doesn’t make them a key point in the series as Bridgerton does. The leading actor in the new period drama is a British-Zimbabwean man. Downton Abbey steered clear of pushing such boundaries, with the show’s director even pointing out the fact that Britain was not as multicultural in the 1920s. While some feel Bridgerton is progressive, others might appreciate how Abbey sticks to the authenticity of British aristocratic society in the ’20s.

2Bridgerton’s Better: Two Words: Julie Andrews

Bridgerton has many elements that place it above that of Downton Abbey. It has plenty of scandals, and it pushes the storyline boundaries. Bridgerton meshes components of traditional period dramas with modern upgrades like racial elements, current music scores, and one of the very best minds behind the projects (looking at you, Shonda Rhimes.) It also has its series narration done by the wonderous, spectacular Dame Julie Andrews. Take that Downton Abbey.

1Downton Abbey Reigns Supreme: Sticks With A PG Format But Handles The Heavy

A great thing about Downton Abbey is that the entire family can snuggle up and watch it together, and this is because it pretty much sticks to a PG format. While adult issues are mentioned, they don’t play out in the way that they do in Bridgerton. Bridgerton might be one of those shows that mom and dad only tune into long after the kids have fallen asleep. That said, Downton Abbey deals with its fair share of non-kid friendly moments and does it better than Bridgerton. Both shows contain sexual abuse. Downton Abbey does a far better job at not minimizing such a heavy incident. 

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