Based on the unfinished novel of the same name by Edith Wharton, The Buccaneers follows a group of young and wealthy American women who, after their friend marries into London’s high society, are invited to England where they hope to strike up their own romance within the city’s marriage market. Refusing to fall in line with the conventions of English polite society, however, the Americans are seen as disruptive by some of their peers. Showrunner Katherine Jakeways uses this culture clash to put a feminist spin on the 19th-century costume drama. It’s a noble premise that aims to subvert the genre, but the lack of an engaging plot stops this Apple TV+ series from becoming the new Bridgerton.
The show begins with a lavish wedding where viewers are introduced to protagonist Nan (Kristine Frøseth), who’s busy making last-minute preparations before her best friend Conchita (Alisha Boe) ties the knot with handsome English lord Richard (Josh Dylans). Nan and the rest of the bridesmaids are invited to come to England with Conchita after the ceremony. However, their happily-ever-after isn’t as easy to come by as they thought. Nan becomes swept up in a love triangle between a dashing duke (Guy Remmers) and his oldest friend (Matthew Broome) whilst facing the truth about a family secret. Meanwhile, Conchita is viewed unfavourably by her in-laws because of her skin colour, having come from new money, and her fun-loving attitude.
In between the handful of scenes that move the plot forward, the first three episodes of this show are predominately full of frivolous parties, dances and romantic encounters, all of which are set to a modern soundtrack in the same vein as Bridgerton. Watching the cast of youngsters embrace life with their carefree attitude makes for some highly entertaining and fun-filled moments that work to subvert the conventions of high society. Likewise, Nan’s fantastic quips offer biting critiques of women’s roles at that time. Unfortunately, this commentary rarely goes below surface-level observations.
Despite the energetic and exuberant lifestyle on display offering escapism, The Buccaneers ultimately falls flat thanks to its paper-thin romantic plotlines and lacklustre social commentary.
The Buccaneers is released on Apple TV+ on 10th November 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Buccaneers here: