I had been planning to write this post for a while, I uploaded a story on my Instagram saying that Bridgerton was problematic and my dms have been FLOODED with people trying to justify it. I wanna talk about it in this post and also compare the books with the series.
This story revolves around the regency period, i.e. 1813, showing London’s ton. It particularly revolves around Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Hastings fake courting each other to them falling in love and the scandals in between. It also has its own gossip girl “Lady Whistledown”.
I read the first book the nine bridgerton books by Julia Quinn and oh my god. Honestly, the series is much better than the book. It is detailed and long. The characters in the series are portrayed much better, the book character of Simon is SO sexist and there isn’t really any positive change by the end of the book. Penelope Featherington is constantly called out as “ugly”.
There are a lot of things to unpack in the show to actually understand why it’s problematic and how the way the audience is perceiving it is way worse.
Race Baiting/ Colour Blind Casting? and Liberal Escapism
Bridgerton is one of the most-viewed series on Netflix. One of the major reasons for audiences’ attraction towards it was that it included people of all colour and series would reimagine the era but it didn’t feel like a reimagination of history or colour blind casting mainly because of the one conversation between Lady Danbury and Simon where Lady Danbury says “I understand that you believe such subjects of love and devotion, affection and attachment, you find it all trite and ridiculous, But have you any idea those very things are precisely what have allowed a new day to begin to dawn in this society? Look at our queen. Look at our king. Look at their marriage. Look at everything it is doing for us, allowing us to become. We Were Two Separate Societies, Divided By Color Until A King Fell In Love With One Of Us. Love, Your Grace, Conquers All.” This gives the idea that interracial marriage between The King and The Queen ( I am gonna talk more about them further in the post) solved the problem of racial discrimination? The writer of the show also said “With Bridgerton I wanted to escape to this lush, beautiful, cinematic world, but I also wanted to explore real topics like gender and class and race and sexuality- topics that are relevant and important.” but the actual struggles aren’t really discussed in the show except for one scene of Lady Danbury and Simon. Also, there is no Asian or Latina representation in the show.
The king and the queen
As mentioned earlier, Bridgerton is supposed to be a re-imagination of the regency era but the king, King George and the queen, Queen Charlotte were actually real people, real historical figures and King George in the series is supposed to be a big-hearted man who had the power to end racism but in real life, King George III didn’t only support racism but he and his son were major proponents of slavery.
The theory that Queen Charlotte was a black woman has still not been proved while the historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom argues that Charlotte was directly descended from a Black branch of the Portuguese royal family.
Sexual Assault (TW: Mention of R*pe)
One of the most controversial scenes in the show is where Daphne r*pes Simon just to prove her point. When Simon tells Daphne that he “can’t give her kids”, she mistakes it for him being biologically not being able to reproduce, but when she learns about the truth, she forces him into sexual activity. The book deals with this scene much worse and there could have been so many alternatives to this scene. The scene does show that men can be assaulted too but there were no consequences of Daphne’s action. This leaves such a huge impact on the viewers, Bridgerton being one of the most viewed series on Netflix, leads to a huge audience and this scene may lead to romanticizing sexual assault and without consent sex.
Okay, this isn’t “problematic” but I really wanted to discuss it. I watched this video by Mina Le–
I am not going to dive much into the fashion because I feel that she sums them up very well but the designers did a great job with costumes, making a ton of them, including modern fashion in period dresses, but they were kind of historically inaccurate. One of the most inaccuracy in the fashion I felt was the queen’s dresses. Even though, her dresses were iconic, they looked as if they were from 1750s-1790s.
Also, in that era, people weren’t that rich to actually buy a new and unique dress for every ball in the season but I feel as the writer wanted to show a lush and cinematic show, the designers ought for several dresses.
I guess that’s all I wanted to discuss in this post. I really feel if the writers wanted to re-imagine the history, they needed to re-imagine the attitudes of people or if they wanted to incorporate every issue, they needed to provide more than one or two scenes considering how grave the situation is.