‘THE BUCCANEERS,’ SERIES ONE: APPLE TV GOES NEEDLESSLY MODERN IN PERIOD DRAMA

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From Apple TV+, Edith Warton’s classic story The Buccaneers gets a new life in this splashy 8-episode series. Like some of its peers, the series embraces modernism, but is it too much?

The Buccaneers, Series One (2023) Apple TV+ Review

Getting married is something Conchita Clausen (Alisha Boe) is ecstatic about. The American girl from a new money family caught the attention, and the heart, of an English lord who comes from old money. What she never anticipates is that her fiancé may not show up. When he does, it takes Conchita’s best friend Nan St. George (Kristine Froseth) to remind Richard (Josh Dylan) how much the two love each other. Nervous over the idea of the exciting and vibrant Conchita not fitting in with his prim stiff upper lip family, Richard has good concerns for their marriage, but he marries, and the pair leave for England and his ancestral estate. 

Months pass, and by invitation, Nan and her beautiful sister Jinny (Imogen Waterhouse), along with their friends Lizzy and Mabel Elmsworth (Aubri Ibrag, Josie Totah) head to England to visit Conchita. About to have their first child, Conchita is restricted not just by her condition, but her new family with her movements. But Ginny and Lizzy attend every prominent event for young women, all while Mrs. St. George (Christina Hendricks) makes plans for her eldest to find the ideal match.

‘THE BUCCANEERS,’ SERIES ONE: APPLE TV GOES NEEDLESSLY MODERN IN PERIOD DRAMA. A review of the #AppleTV drama with Kristine Forseth based on the Edith Warton novel. #Adaptation #PeriodDrama #Romance Click To Tweet

Just as I would suspect, based on the early release images, The Buccaneers series one is not quite what I want as a period drama enthusiast. Before watching the series, I hadn’t even read a review or watched the trailer spot, I could just tell by the promotional material that this wouldn’t be what we know it could have been. That speculation is quite right and justified. The show is bright and lush with plenty of possible romantic entanglements, but it misses what makes this genre what it is. It abuses the period and doesn’t use to its advantage all of the means it could to transport us into this era.

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From the music, which is startling in its choice because it’s so modern, to the styling, this isn’t a “pretty” period drama. It tries too hard to appeal to a modern audience, rather than telling a solid and memorable story of its time period. I think, after you get past the “shock” of the first episode, things do even out slightly, and it’s easier to imagine yourself in the era. I have seen productions that do the modern and old world feel well. This isn’t one of them. It doesn’t balance anything well, and instead has every single heroine run wild without thought to how they would have behaved.

Modern writers, and readers, miss so much of what classic literature stories want their message to be. Instead, we’re so hyper focused on making something “appealing” and inserting a modern narrative where it doesn’t need to be. This often blinds us to the subtleties of the novel, which oftentimes is quite sassy, it’s just done in a far better way.

I so did want to adore this series. There are these shining moments that made me think, yes, it’s finally getting it. Then something comes along and wrecks that balance. I do love the ballgown beach scene for example. The characters are interesting, but I don’t really like any of them even with compassion. Though, like usual, there’s no male character we’re able to fully like because the script refuses to gift us that. (I like Theo best by the end because I think he’s the one who tries best to do what’s right.)

When it comes down to it, while I cannot judge this as an adaptation, I do think this one misses the mark being a good period drama. It has too many modern idiosyncrasies to be memorable and doesn’t seem to care. While I also cannot judge the 1995 adaptation as one, I think it’s a better example of an adaptation, even with its missteps.

You can stream The Buccaneers series one exclusively with an Apple TV+ subscription.

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‘THE BUCCANEERS,’ SERIES ONE: APPLE TV GOES NEEDLESSLY MODERN IN PERIOD DRAMA. Review of the Apple TV series with Kristine Forseth. Text © RissiWrites.com

Content: the series has multiple kisses between various couples. There’s same-sex kisses, and a “quiet” relationship that begins between two people of the same sex. We see them (in episode five) becoming intimate; they kiss and make out and one woman begins to push her hand up the others skirt. A married couple has sex (clothes on); they often discuss sneaking away to be intimate, rub against each other, and make out in a social setting. Another unmarried couple has sex. We see another married couple in bed being intimate. A man demands a woman undress so that he may stare at her; once he has his fill, he leaves. The implication comes out that someone realizes they were abused, sexually, as an underage teenager by an older person. The series is TV-14.

Photos: Apple TV+

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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