In the nearly 20 years since The Bachelor aired its first episode, the myriad copycat dating shows that have popped up in the wake of its success have gone to increasingly bizarre lengths to differentiate themselves from competitors in the saturated reality dating show market. Love Is Blind put prospective lovers in “pods” and encouraged them to get engaged sight unseen, Sexy Beasts rendered contestants unrecognizable in elaborate, kind of disturbing animal costumes, and now Peacock’s forthcoming series, The Courtship, is transporting its cast back in time to the Regency era for a Bridgerton-inspired reality dating show.
Of course, anyone could’ve seen this coming a mile away. Regency-era romance has been all the rage since Bridgerton premiered in late 2020, with the show’s steamy sex scenes prompting a rumored spike in four-poster bed sales and inspiring increased talk of “courtship” on dating apps. Now, naturally, it’s the subject of a full-blown reality dating series in which “a group of eligible hopeful suitors” will compete to win the heart of the series’ heroine, with approval from her “court,” according to a series description.
That heroine is a woman named Nicole Remy, who the series describes as “a modern girl tired of modern dating,” who wants to find “the one” and is willing to see if love can be found the old-fashioned way. You can watch the new trailer for the series, which premieres March 6, below.
Look, I obviously get the obsession with fictionalized versions of historical romance. We’ve all fantasized about Regency-era love stories since Jane Austen invented the marriage plot in the actual Regency era, giving birth to several centuries’ worth of historical romance novels that have left readers nostalgic for a presumably more romantic time. I also get the frustration with modern dating. While I myself am a big fan of dating apps and probably would have been single for my entire life without them, I get why so many people find the seemingly endless cycle of swiping and ghosting exhausting and pretty unromantic.
Still, I can’t help but feel that this nostalgia for a centuries-old form of dating is a bit misplaced. Yes, Bridgerton is a heavily romanticized portrayal of early 19th-century courtship, but beneath the glamour and fantasy and four-poster bed sex, it does still provide a glimpse into the horrific realities of marriage and mating back then. Women were literally sold and traded like chattel, they had to have the approval of a male authority figure to marry, and if they didn’t manage to bag themselves a husband, that was basically it for them — they were destined to be old maids, a burden and embarrassment to the family. Oh, and that was just the rich women, by the way. Poor women basically just had to marry the farmer next door or literally die in the street because they couldn’t get a job and had no other options. Romantic!
Call me unromantic, but modern dating works just fine for me, thanks.