Making fun of anachronisms, this beautiful and rebellious Victorian series sparkles as much as it entertains.
It is a strange mix, often delightful, sometimes disconcerting, that offers The Buccaneers, a new Apple TV+ series which has just been launched – also in France on Canal + (the first three episodes are available). A drama from the Victorian era, which plays with the codes of the genre with sparkling playfulness, while embracing its (very) numerous references.
Because The Buccaneersit is clearly the Apple version of Bridgerton (Netflix) coupled with The Gilded Age (HBO Max), without forgetting the stainless influences of the classics Gossip Girl Or Sex and the City. The story takes place in 1870. The St. George family comes from the common American people, but has made a large fortune on the stock markets. Today is our wedding day in New York. All the elite are gathered to celebrate the marriage of Conchita Closson to an English Lord. The height of chic. In the process, Conchita leaves to live across the Atlantic, in the very conservative society of Queen Victoria, and the young girl, raised in a much more progressive United States, has difficulty finding her place. So she’s going to bring her friends. The St. George sisters (Nan and Jinny) and the Elmsworth sisters (Lizzy and Mabel) arrive in London. The gang of American girls aren’t really up to speed on the decorum of the British aristocracy. While looking for a blue-blooded husband, they will shake up good English society.
Anachronistic through and through, The Buccaneers has fun doing Bridgerton uninhibited pop. We find most of the essential markers of the genre, namely the famous “season” of debutante balls, where young girls in bloom try to seduce the right people. There are these extraordinary dresses, these breathtaking period costumes, this flashy and sumptuous decorum, and even this famous Duke who can no longer stand being courted for his status and who melts for the fragile beauty of a mischievous stranger…
Yes, we’ve seen this before somewhere. But The Buccaneers loosens the corset and leaves the stifling conventions of the traditional Victorian series, opting for a much more saucy approach. Sprinkled with very improbable feminist elements in this historical context, it makes fun of inaccuracies to get excited about a fantasy painting of the time.
Obviously, this is all very excessive. When Nan and her friends party by downing liters of champagne during a limitless party, we have the impression of seeing Blair Waldorf at a fancy dress party. The denunciation of the patriarchal society of the time becomes almost grotesque, as much as this crudely supported opposition between an America which would live with the times and a Europe which would have remained stuck in an archaic way of life.
Some enormities that we readily accept, as the series overflows with passion and charm. Produced with admirable care, The Buccaneers gets drunk with cruel low blows and grandiose disheveled romances in this quest for the best, where the young Kristine Frøseth (revealed in the series The Truth about the Harry Quebert affair) particularly hits the screen.
The Buccaneers, season 1 in 8 episodes to watch since November 8, 2023 on Apple TV+.