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'The Courtship' Is Based On Regency-Era Dating — But How Accurate Is It Really?

Dating on "The Courtship" means ballroom dances, voluminous gowns, and buttoned-up suitors. But is it actually historically accurate?

By Tara Bennett
The Courtship's Nicole Remy Petting A Riding Horse

If you’re a fan of the works of Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, or George Eliot, then you’re likely to be “all in” when it comes to period pieces and costume dramas. We’ll assume if there’s a core romance in the mix, too, then it's even better. Capturing the swoon-y, ephemeral nature of witnessing a love connection happen in the now, but tying it back to the days of those authors is the hook of USA’s series "The Courtship."

The reality dating series is the contemporary imagining of 18th-century dating rituals, just executed in the 21st century. Modern-day software engineer Nicole Rémy is the woman being courted by a bevy of suitors. Knowing this is a contemporary dating show, it begs the question of whether any of the scenarios in "The Courtship" that Rémy and her suitors embark upon really reflect the Regency-era courtship dynamics men and women had to traverse to find a match.

Here's some insight into what potential lovers had to endure back in the day compared to now.

Nicole Rémy would not be in control of choosing a suitor in the Regency era. 

The patriarchy was very much the standard in Regency-era courting, which meant that women had to wait to be pursued by a suitor who showed interest in her as they orbited one another in polite society. If a woman had eyes for someone specific, that interest had to be expressed through family or friend connections, or not at all, per the website Jane Austen Variations,

The clothing is legit.

The beautiful frocks that Nicole Rémy, her parents, and her friends wear in every episode are on point with the times — depending on the wealth of your family.

The made-to-wear dresses showcased in every episode are made of the finest silks and fabrics that costume designers' budgets can buy. In the Regency era, only wealthy families could afford the variety and cost of what everyone wears in the series. More modest families may have only been able to provide a limited wardrobe for their daughters of age and certainly not with all of the high-end fabrics or detailing seen in "The Courtship."

The measure of a woman’s clothing was often the not-so-subtle implication of the eventual dowry that might be coming for a man, so the clothing counted.

Nicole Rémy's public selections of her suitors would not be allowed.

In another telling sign of those Regency-era times, Rémy’s public moments regarding whether to keep or dispense of suitors at the end of every episode would never be acceptable. In reality, the suitor would always make the first move, and even if they were acting upon her expressed interest given through a mutual party, women of that time were never supposed to openly encourage them. They were to remain aloof and reserved.

It was only when a woman was certain of her choice that she could relay her true feelings.

Being alone with a suitor is a no-no.

For the majority of "The Courtship," Nicole Rémy has had an ample number of chaperones with her during the weekly events with the suitors. In the Regency era, that would also be the case as no unmarried woman of proper standing would be seen on the arm of a man without a family member, close friend, or approved companion with her. 

As the show has progressed beyond Episode 5, Ms. Rémy has had alone time with some of the men, which would be off the table back in the day. No touching or sitting closely —  especially near a man exposing his chest, heaven forbid!. 

"The Courtship" airs Wednesdays at 11 p.m. ET on USA Network. Catch up now on USA Network.

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