The Buccaneers, another period drama about the necessity to marry well

Kristine Froseth in The Buccaneers

The Buccaneers joins the list of popular period pieces with lavish costumes and sets (think Bridgerton or The Gilded Age) to become another series about the importance of marrying well. This one is set in the 1870s. It was created by Katherine Jakeways based on an unfinished novel by Edith Wharton. In this one, a group of irrepressible and unrefined American girls head to England in search of a rich and/or royal husband.

The Buccaneers centers around two St. George sisters, Nan St. George (Kristine Froseth) and Jinny St. George (Imogen Waterhouse). These two are good prospects for an English Duke or Lord because their father (Adam James) is very rich.

Christina Hendricks in The Buccaneers

Their mother (Christina Hendricks) is sure that getting them married well will cement her precarious position in New York society.

One of their friends, Concitta (Alisha Boe) is already married to Lord Marable (Josh Dylan). They met in America and are headed to England where Concitta will be in for a shock when she sees how she’s expected to behave.

The American girls featured in The Buccaneers
Going around the circle from the left are Concitta, Nan, Jinny, Lizzy and Mabel.

Included in this group of husband hunters are Lizzy (Aubrey Ibrag) and Mabel (Josie Totah). Lizzy has an unpleasant run in with the horrible Lord Seadown (Barney Fishwick) right before Jinny elopes with him!

Mable is a secret lesbian and discovers that Honoria Marabel (Mia Threapleton) is interested in what the bold American has on offer. The inclusion of the LGBTQ storyline is a modern addition to the story, as is the inclusion of people of color. Is Edith Wharton spinning in her grave or does she think it’s a brilliant edit?

All five of these young women are inexperienced, naive, foolish, and wildly American in staid English society.

Nan, the nominal star of the story, immediately became involved in a love triangle with Theo, Duke of Tintagel (Guy Remmers) and Guy Thwarte (Matthew Broome). Her lack of common sense in regard to the two of them finally developed meaning in the last episode of the season when she did something for her sister that was a huge sacrifice.

None of the characters are well developed. Some are absolutely inscrutable. The series was renewed for a second season, so perhaps some of the motivations and qualities of these undeveloped individuals will be filled in a bit. My favorite character was Amelia Bullmore as Duchess of Tintagel. She was very clear about what she stood for and what she needed in a wife for her son Theo.

This was a time when marriages were meant to help the family maintain wealth and social position. Falling in love was an inconvenience because it threw a wrench in the smooth working of the social order. In The Buccaneers, the characters do things for family. But they aren’t the things you expect. This unexpected behavior leaves the last episode with a cliffhanger that will be a focus for the second season.

This is an Apple TV+ series. Charlotte Regan and Susanna White were the women directors involved.

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