In the Apple TV+ show The Buccaneers there's one scene that really makes the series stand out from other period-modern dramas, and of course it involves a Taylor Swift song.
In the first episode of the series, directed by the brilliant Susanna White, Nan St. George (Kristine Frøseth), Jinny St. George (Imogen Waterhouse), Mabel Elmsworth (Josie Totah) and Lizzy Elmsworth (Aubri Ibrag) all attend a debutante ball, with Jinny and Lizzy participating in the ceremony.
While Nan takes in the room, which includes a group of women dressed in white with ornate headwear, holding up paddles that assign each woman a number, as men observe, discuss and write down their physical attributes to express their interest in particular young women, she starts to feel anxious about the whole experience.
The audience experiences that Nan feels trapped in this toxic patriarchal practice, prompting her to try to run out of the room.
This moment plays out with Swift's song "Nothing New (Taylor's Version)" playing in the background, to really put a specific note on the scene.
'The Buccaneers' scene 'explodes' the 'fairytale' of women being admired by men
It's the way The Buccaneers assesses and reflects on the uncomfortable moments that women experience that makes it stand out from similar shows.
"Truthfully, we couldn't have predicted how successful that scene was going to be ... and that's down, in large part, to Susanna White, ... who made it look so claustrophobic," the show's creator Katherine Jakeways told Yahoo Canada. "That whole staircase sequence looks so beautiful on one hand, but also so awful to watch on the other hand."
"None of us have been to a debutante ball and walked down a staircase, and actually held up paddles and had people mocking us. But very similar to that, we've all had experiences in our lives where you walk into a room, whether it's a party or a work situation, or a school disco or a classroom, where you go, 'God everyone's looking at me and everyone's judging me,' and my friend who was my best mate two minutes ago is now suddenly my rival."
It's specifically Nan's ability to assess that moment that Jakeways highlights was important to show, to establish that she's a particularly observant, forward-thinking woman.
"It also explodes the kind of fairytale a bit," executive producer Beth Willis added. "I think that we've all seen for decades and decades, or read period dramas or romantic novels, where the idea of dressing up, having your hair and makeup done, wearing a nice dress and walking down a staircase and being admired is sort of sold to us as the dream."
"I think what that scene does is shows you that they're a bit ... scared and a nervous, and it doesn't feel so good. That feels truthful."
Taylor Swift's 'Nothing New' is a perfect match
Jakeways also stressed that part of what makes this scene so effective is the addition of Swift's song, revealing that when she and Willis first heard the song over that scene, they both cried.
"It was just so perfect for that scene and we'd shot it and we'd hoped that it was going to work," she said. "It was like this song was written for it."
"We were very careful to make sure there was a scene beforehand, when they're getting ready to go down the stairs. It's so important to see ... the excitement of a party and we're going to get to wear these lovely dresses, and we're going to go down that staircase, and then you see that moment where suddenly it becomes real."
In terms of what that scene visually looks like, production designer Amy Maguire explained she went to an art exhibition with White to find inspiration for the debutante ball on the show, called Women in White at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
"It put in our minds how we could create this almost carpet of women, all dressed the same against white marble, and the anonymity of being in that procession," Maguire said. "That became quite an important conversation."
"I think it's the telling stories of grandeur and different levels of ostentatiousness, and communicating status within the design, when they're all very rich characters, was quite a challenge, but quite fun to work out."