Some may find the modernized period tales of the likes of Bridgerton and Persuasion in poor taste, while others thoroughly enjoy this new take. The Buccaneers falls under the same categorization of doing away with historical accuracy to incorporate today’s feminist ideology in the 19th century. The show is loosely based on the unfinished novel by Edith Wharton about five young American women who pirate their way into English society to find themselves Lords or Dukes for husbands—well, at least a couple of them. This show is not for those who love their classics and completely erases anything vintage about this story through music by Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers and dialogue that sometimes feels extremely fake. The show is determined to showcase Americans as vulgar savages and the British as terrible yet proper. Yet, despite the strangeness of it all, there’s something underneath that’s rather exciting to watch. A love triangle, an interracial marriage (quite like England’s very own H & M.M), parties and balls, or just five beautiful women trying to make their way in a world where they don’t belong are the many things you’ll get to see in The Buccaneers.
What Happens In Episode 1?
Annabelle, our heroine, nicknamed Nan, is getting ready to be the bridesmaid for her best friend Conchita’s wedding. In a voiceover, she notes how she was never meant to be the main character and that little girls are taught their lives are tragedies if they’re not love stories (ah, some things never change). Conchita isn’t ready for her big day because she believes Lord Richard from London, whom she’s fallen in love with on his holiday in New York, is not going to show up. She waits at her window half-dressed to see if his cart will arrive, while everyone else hurriedly gets ready for the show—sorry, wedding. Nan tries to convince Conchita that Richard will come; after all, he’s madly in love with her. Conchita wonders if she should’ve told him she’s pregnant, but she doesn’t want him to marry her out of duty, only love. Finally, when she drops her earring to the ground from her second-floor window, Nan climbs down rather than using the door like a normal person, mesmerizing an English man watching in awe.
Of course, she has a word with him and finds the earring. Richard, too, shows up just in time, but he has a letter he wants to give Conchita. Nan convinces him that whatever his parents may believe, Richard is in love with Conchita, and he should do what’s best for him, saving the day twice in a row. The wedding is perfect (rather pale in terms of costumes and hairstyles, though), and everyone is delighted, especially Conchita. Nan gets to meet her mystery man again, only for him to tell her that he’s returning home to his ailing mother. Nan’s mother is desperate to get her elder sister Jinny into a ball so she can find herself a match, but to her surprise, Richard’s family has invited all the bridesmaids to London, just in time for the debutante ball.
When the girls make it to England, Conchita is heavily pregnant and extremely melancholic, unlike her friends’ expectations. She’s desperate for some American goodness because, ever since she’s been in England, things have been going terribly for her. Quickly, it’s made clear that her in-laws despise her American nature, and Richard can’t be bothered to step into the crossfire that is their conversations. Jinny, Nan’s sister, is meant to be the most beautiful of the lot, but because Nan has quick wit and humor to her side, Jinny is quite jealous.
On one hand, Conchita asks Nan to be there for her when her baby is born because she needs somebody by her side, and on the other, it seems there’s truly some sort of mystery wrapped around the man Nan met at the wedding. At the ball, Nan can’t tolerate the cattle-like presentation of the debutantes, and after spewing some feminist dialogue at a perverted middle-aged man, she decides to get out, only to be met with the man again.
Our mystery man is named Guy Thwarte, and he seems to have taken a liking to Nan. While they’re lost in conversation, she ends up dropping her shoe in the stunning 5-tiered white cake, and somehow there are no repercussions except that Jinny can’t stand the thought that her sister, who has no interest in marrying, already has a man wrapped around her finger. In her frustration, Jinny tells Nan that she was actually born out of wedlock, and her mother, who is supportive, isn’t actually her mother at all (the drama comes quickly in this one). Before Nan has time to process this newfound information, Jinny apologizes for blurting it out (lies) and tells her never to bring it up with her mother, who pretends Nan is hers to avoid scandal. Ultimately, Nan is sent away to the countryside so that she’s not a distraction for Jinny’s chances of finding a husband.
Now, Nan isn’t around when Conchita is giving birth; in fact, she’s on a beach and meets another man, this time a painter, she presumes, but he’s actually a duke and a very eligible bachelor. Just like her incredible connection with Guy, Nan immediately has a spark with Theo, the painter, too.
What Happens In Episode 2?
After a month-long trip away from the girls and the thought of returning to New York, Nan is a completely changed person. Fortunately, she’s been invited to a weekend of fun with her girls, with no chaperones, aka their mothers, to come in the way. Nan spends a good amount of time ignoring her sister and trying to tell Conchita why she’s been away, but Conchita is too busy thinking about her own problems. In truth, she’s planned the weekend with precision because her husband Richard is staying in the house just down the road, and this is her ploy to turn him back into the guy she fell in love with. There’s a party waiting to happen, but Nan is obviously not in the mood. While she tries to get ready, Jinny apologizes for what she said, but she can’t see the weight of her words on Nan (what kind of sister?). Nan wants to talk to Conchita, but she’s too busy trying to understand her own body after having given birth just a month ago. She just wants to have fun with her girls and her husband.
At the party, Nan sulks while Jinny and Lizzy try to fight for the attention of James, Richard’s brother. James doesn’t like the fact that Jinny is “partying” with other men in the room and chooses to make her jealous by asking Lizzy to dance with him. Lizzy is just as worthy as Jinny, but she’s always been considered second-best. Of course, she latches onto the opportunity, but what she doesn’t know is that James is actually an atrocious man. When they find themselves in a room alone, he asks her to take off her clothes and lie bare in front of him. When the day is over, he just leaves without a word and asks one of the butlers to tell her he’s not returning.
On the other hand, love blossoms between Lizzy’s sister Mabel and Richard’s sister Honoria. Guy shows up to the party too, but not for the right reasons. It seems his father and he are broke, and Nan’s “new money” can help them get back in the money, which is why he’s meant to get her to marry him. Naive Nan just enjoys his company, and on the spur of the moment, with the excitement that she has such a sweet connection with him, she tells him all about her being a child born out of wedlock. Of course, this means Guy can’t marry her, and he runs away. It seems Guy has developed some feelings for Nan, but this changes things completely for them. Nan somehow manages to forgive Jinny in this mess, though. The next day, Conchita overhears Richard telling the governess that there’s a difference between women and wives (yuck) and that his mother was right. Conchita just doesn’t fit in, but she’s missed the whole picture, of course. Richard finishes with the fact that he’ll always love her, and what makes her different is what makes him addicted to her.
Lizzy apologizes to Jinny, telling her that nothing happened between her and James but that there’s something she needs to tell her. Jinny doesn’t want to hear it, though, and she’s too busy sulking about the whole situation. To their surprise, though, James brings out the ring and the charade, proposing to Jinny in front of all her friends. Lizzy is still distracted by the previous day’s situation. At the end of the episode, Theo arrives and admits to Nan that he searched for her specifically because he’s never met any woman like her before (tell us something new) and that he wants her to marry him. At the same time, Guy’s shown up, probably to apologize for running away, but he’s too late.
What Happens In Episode 3?
The girls are invited to a ball at a castle, thanks to Nan’s engagement with the Duke. Lizzy has abruptly gone back to New York with the mothers, though. Jinny and James’ wedding needs to be planned. As soon as they arrive, Nan rushes to the beach, where she first met Theo. She takes in the cool breeze before Theo interrupts her. He makes it clear that if she isn’t excited by the prospects of being a duchess and finds it all too overbearing, she can call off the wedding with no repercussions. Conchita is a completely changed person, and she doesn’t make a sound when she’s around her husband and her in-laws, like a tamed animal. In the meantime, everyone is shocked by yet another scandal: Jinny and James have eloped and married because they don’t want a grand show for a wedding. Nan is especially convinced that Jinny would never want to do that, but everyone else seems to be caught up with their own problems.
The Duchess, Theo’s mother, is all uptight and scary from the outside, but she’s a complete softy from within. She takes a liking to Nan immediately, but also reminds her that Theo and she need to really get to know each other if they must spend the rest of their lives together. The Duchess and Nan already seem to have a great understanding and mutual respect for each other. It seems Guy and Theo have been childhood best friends. Guy shows up in Nan’s room, thinking it’s his own. A half-dressed Nan asks Guy if it’s fair for a “girl like her” to marry a Duke, and Guy replies that it would not be right. Obviously, it’s his jealousy talking, but Nan really feels the weight of his words.
At the ball, she looks absolutely marvelous, and everyone approves of the girl Theo has finally chosen. He asks her how she feels about all the shenanigans, but she has no idea just yet. Theo tells Nan that everything somehow feels better with her around. Earlier, Guy and Theo had a conversation about Nan, and Guy could really tell that Theo felt the same way about her as he did, meaning he could never hurt either of them by revealing her secret. On the other hand, Conchita notices that Jinny is the new favorite daughter-in-law because she claims to James’ parents that she’s different from other Americans and doesn’t have to be a “peacock” for attention. Conchita, who is already crumbling under pressure, feels like this is a jab at her and takes it out on Nan, who happens to be close to her at the time.
With everything boiling up, Conchita asks her in-laws if Jinny is the favorite because of her “blonde hair and pale skin,” and they don’t deny it. Conchita runs away in the pouring rain, and Richard finally follows her to make sure she’s alright. Nan, who claims she isn’t worried because she’s hurt by Conchita’s words, is actually very worried. Richard apologizes to Conchita and admits that he’s the one who was in the wrong, telling her they should go to New York for some time, just them and their baby. She’s overjoyed, and when they return, Nan is there, waiting. Nan is thoroughly through with Conchita’s shenanigans, but at the same time, she’s constantly thinking about how she’s fooling Theo, so she calls Conchita an “attention-seeking mess” and walks away from her.
Nan tries to calm herself down by taking a seat on the grand stairs of the castle, amidst the portraits of all the previous duchesses. Guy sits down with her. He tells her that she’d make a perfect duchess, promising not to tell Theo anything, but she still wonders why he ran away that night when she told him about her parentage. He has no answer for her and leaves, even after calling her his newest friend. Nan rushes to Theo after her conversation with Guy, and on the beach, she says yes to marrying him. He’s obviously thrilled, but she says she needs to return home and speak with her mother first. He asks to join her on the trip so he can meet her family too. At the end of the episode, Nan goes to Mabel’s room to get energized by the presence of her friend. While they’re talking, Mabel wishes every day could be like the weekend they spent partying. Nan replies that she would never wish that because she spent all night talking to Guy and scared him enough to make him run away. Mabel says she probably didn’t scare him enough because he came back the next day when Theo was proposing.
Of course, there’s going to be a maddening love triangle between Nan, Theo, and Guy. Now they’re both wonderful people, but Guy’s intentions haven’t been the best, so of course we wouldn’t want Nan to end up with him if it’s all just fake. On the other hand, Theo is kind of perfect for her, but she seems to be more honest with Guy. The Buccaneers does away with any kind of subtlety we’re used to seeing in period dramas, and if you’re looking for something to replace your Pride & Prejudice cravings, then this is going to be far from your answer. Since the show surrounds the Gilded Age, it is mainly focused on depicting the war between old money and new. We hope it doesn’t get more sad, though, because it’s nice to see the girls happy and together.