• Deborah Yaffe

Break out the popcorn

March is shaping up to be a big month for Janeites who like Austen-related TV and aren’t too picky about its relationship to anything actually written by Jane Austen.


On March 20, of course, PBS will begin broadcasting the second season of Sanditon, which started out as an adaptation of the novel Austen left unfinished at her death but which has by now traveled far, far from the original.


If you can’t wait that long, however, you can get your sorta-semi-Austenesque-ish fix two weeks earlier, on March 6, when The Courtship, a new reality dating show allegedly inspired by Austen’s work, will premiere on NBC.


As blog readers will recall, this show was originally titled Pride and Prejudice: An Experiment in Romance, but somewhere along the line, it acquired a shorter, less literary title. The premise, however, remains the same: “A heroine looking for her duke” will hole up in a country castle in “a Regency-style England” and screen a passel of eligible suitors as she participates in activities ranging from “carriage rides and boat rides on the lake to archery and handwritten letters,” according to NBC’s press release.


In other words, we’re looking at a weird mashup of Austenland, Bridgerton, and The Bachelorette, with an ethos that owes more to the production values of filmed Austen adaptations than to the less extravagant lives of the landed gentry, as depicted in Austen’s actual books. Mr. Darcy, after all, is not a duke.


The network’s decision to initially screen each weekly episode of The Courtship on its broadcast channel -- rather than relegating the whole thing to the Peacock streaming service, as originally planned -- presumably means that hopes for a hit are sky-high. No trailers have been released yet, so we’ll have to take their word for it.


Personally, I am sure it’s going to be terrible – probably epically terrible. I can’t wait.

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