Tag Archives: Bridgerton

Bridgerton: Is It Representation or Aesthetics?

Dear readers, now that the latest season has come to a close, it is now time to analyze Bridgerton’s beautiful families beyond Lady Whistledown’s juicy gossip and sordid details. Ultimately, It is up to us to see whether the beloved Netflix show is true as representative as it claims to be. The Sharma family were the talk of the ton (forgive my puns), but they are not the first instance of Shonda Rhimes’ unique incorporation of representation in her period drama; for that, we have to go back to season one.

While the popular rom-com never truly addresses if there was an equitable society in the British Regency era where people of color (POCs) were Lords and Dukes, there is a brief mention of a darker past in the first season. Especially, when Lady Danbury speaks about the King’s love for the Queen, it seemingly ends all the racism and hatred of the past without any consequences. While it is a loose premise to build a fictional world on, one can forgive the show for this as it leads to more diverse casting. But, that brings us to the first issue with Bridgerton—race-baiting.

Race-Baiting

When the first promotional material for the show was released, it heavily emphasized that the show would address racial issues with its unique storytelling. However, aside from the singular conversation mentioned before, the show fails to even mention race let alone incorporate it into its storyline. Some fans of the show claim that it was good that the show was race-blind. Including that giving POC’s different storylines that address their racial heritage or past would negate the message that all races are equal. But, failing to address racial differences is not equal or fair. It is erasing the complexity and nuances of the world we live in, enabling us to tell good stories.

The first season of Bridgerton also failed to include any of its POC cast in important storylines, with the exception of the Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page. When POC characters have significant screen times, their stories are often clouded or infiltrated by their low socioeconomic status. For instance, Marina Thompson, played by Ruby Barker, is desperately searching for a husband to cover up her out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Colin Bridgerton, played by Luke Newton, eventually falls for her and proposes but on finding out about the truth of her deceptions. Unfortunately, he leaves her high and dry, which brings me to the second issue with the popular Netflix drama, its problematic association of skin color with purity.

Value Calls

If we look at all the POC characters in the show, each of them has either engaged in conversation with a non-POC character where they have played the role of the corrupter or experienced friend. Whether it’s the Duke’s conversation with Daphne about self-pleasure or Marina begrudgingly answering Penelope’s questions about sex, it may seem insignificant. Still, the show’s repeated instances of associating purity of thought and spirit with only their non-POC characters perpetuate negative stereotypes that believe or not exist in society even today and strengthen people’s implicit biases.

A New Era

 Finally, let’s dissect season two. When I heard that season two of Bridgerton would have an Indian female lead, I was definitely wary of the idea, especially given India’s colonial past with the British and the period in which Bridgerton takes place. However, Miss Kate Sharma, played by the brilliant Simone Ashley, captured my heart along with those of audiences around the world. While her accent could do with some work, she could incorporate her Indian identity into her character without making her Indianness all that her character was. Edwina called Kate didi, the Haldi ceremony, and Kate’s snide remarks about British tea (which she is completely right about!) all pay homage to Indian culture without forcefully and awkwardly introducing it into the storyline.

Season two of Bridgerton does make up for some of the issues of the first season, for example, the lower socioeconomic association with POC characters. The Sharma family’s dire socioeconomic situation is unnecessary, and the season once again fails to mention any actual race issues or bring it up at all. That being said it is unnecessary for a show with a multi-racial cast to discuss race, but Bridgerton displays race-baiting because it promises to discuss race but fails to do the same. That being said, season two of this show does paint a more promising picture, and while people have complained that the Sharma’s are not truly Indian, I don’t particularly share their sentiment. The Sharma’s may not display every aspect of their Indian culture. Still, if they did, it would distract from the show’s storyline,  which isn’t really the positive representation anyone needs. Kathani Sharma may be slightly controversial, but her sarcastic, dry humor, wit, competitive spirit, and independence do embody the desi nature that I, as an Indian, am particularly proud of. So for this singular instance of representation, I will begrudgingly give Bridgerton my nod of approval.

Featured Image By Francessca Conde

The diamonds of the (first) season

Rating the characters of Netflix’s Bridgerton from the highest on Lady Whistledown’s hit list to the true diamond of the season

**This article contains spoilers for the first season of “Bridgerton.” Read at your own risk.**

All images courtesy of Netflix “Bridgerton”

Dearest readers,

One of the last, few good things to come out of 2020 was the Netflix original series “Bridgerton.” Based on the novels by Julia Quinn, the series follows the prominent Bridgerton family as they try to maintain their reputation in scandalous Romantic-era London. 

The show quickly became one of Netflix’s biggest hits, with people all over the world falling in love with the aesthetic, the classical covers of pop songs and, of course, the gorgeous Duke of Hastings.

 Those who are familiar with the show know Daphne was dubbed the “diamond of the season.” But who was the real diamond of the first season of the breakout show? Here’s a list of “Bridgerton”’s characters, from worst to best:

10. Anthony

I’ll say it: Anthony was beautiful, even with his God-awful sideburns. However, he was a horrid character. He was controlling and manipulative and felt like a 19th-century f*ckboy. What’s worse is, in the first few episodes of the season, I was convinced he was lusting after his sister. “Game of Thrones” did not normalize incest; it’s still very disturbing. As the season went on, it became clear Anthony was probably not actually in love with his sister but he remained unlikable. He was still selfish and he still treated Siena (the “lower class” opera singer he was sleeping with) with little to no respect. 

9. Benedict

I suppose it’s not Benedict’s fault he was a useless character. Poor writing is to blame. Though Benedict got his own storyline, I didn’t feel it contributed anything to the story. I was hoping his plot was going to be one of exploring queer sexuality, but I was deeply disappointed. After talking to my friends, I’ve learned they felt the same. All in all, it felt like queerbaiting. I was really, really hoping for a Dorian Gray/Lord Henry love affair. Hopefully, we’ll get what we want in a later season. 

8. Daphne

While many in London found Daphne to be the gem of eligible women, I found her to be a cubic zirconia. Initially, I really enjoyed Daphne, with her determined mission to marry for love and her hard right hook when she punched the creepy Nigel Berbrooke. I actually even enjoyed her and Simon together, despite my love for the duke. But then she found out how babies were made. As soon as she found out what it took to actually get pregnant, she slept with Simon and forced him to finish inside her. Yes, he lied to her about how he couldn’t have children but it was painful to watch a man who had been so considerate about consent get his own taken away. It was an upsetting scene and one that turned me away from Daphne entirely. 

7. Penelope

Much like Daphne, Penelope was off to a great start. She was kind, she was best friends with Eloise (my favorite character, who we’ll get to later) and she loved to sit in a corner and read. However, when her crush on Daphne and Eloise’s brother, Colin, conflicted with her friendship with her cousin Marina, her darker side came out. Penelope repeatedly betrayed Marina and did everything she could to stop Marina from marrying Colin. Although Marina’s intentions were not the purest, it was still very anti-feminist of Penelope to sabotage Marina and insult Eloise along the way. 

6. Marina

Poor Marina. Lady Featherington hated her, Lord Featherington lusted after her and almost no one in London truly liked her. And of course, the cherry on top was her unplanned, very public, very scandalous pregnancy and her missing love. Though Marina’s manipulation of Colin was not her finest moment, Marina certainly did not deserve all the misfortune she went through. Hopefully, her engagement to her deceased love’s brother will bring her some much-deserved joy in later seasons. 

5. Queen Charlotte

One of the best things about “Bridgerton” is its colorblind casting. Having a Black Queen of England is something I wish was actually part of history. Queen Charlotte was the perfect regal overseer, letting things play out when they needed to and interfering when drama needed a little push. All the while, her husband is slowly slipping away into his illness and she’s left to rule the British Empire by herself. And she does a damn good job doing so. 

4. Simon

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s in love with the Duke. He is easily one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen. While I found his vow to never have children to be a bit too petty, I still thought he was exceedingly endearing. He was clearly sexually active before he got married but he knew Daphne hadn’t been and was very conscious of getting her consent with every sexual experience. He was loyal and supportive of his boxing friend, Will, and often turned to him for advice. He liked to pretend to be a tough guy but he was charming and thoughtful when it came to Daphne. To me, it’s easy to see why so many people burn for Simon Bassett. 

3. Lady Violet Bridgerton 

As seen with Lady Featherington, mothers did not always have their childrens’ best interest at heart in the show. That cannot be said for Lady Violet. Though she desperately wants Eloise to follow in Daphne’s footsteps, Lady Violet is deeply caring for her children and went to extreme lengths to ensure their happiness. Lady Violet supported Daphne’s feelings when she wanted to marry a duke over a prince. She helped Daphne avoid marrying Nigel Berbrooke and supported her when she was having marital issues. Okay, maybe Daphne is just her favorite child. But throughout the season, Lady Violet showed her heart and her brain on an equal level. Men may have held much of the power of the time but Lady Violet and Lady Danbury were often the ones pulling the strings and staying informed. 

2. Eloise

Eloise is without a doubt the best Bridgerton sibling. She was fiercely self-sufficient, witty, intelligent and longed for a life separate from marital drama. She felt like a genuine Jane Austen character, with her fierce individuality and staunch distaste for the society she was in. Her exploration of Lady Whistledown’s identity helped satiate the audience’s own curiosity about the mysterious woman, though Eloise never truly figured out her identity. I also think she was very queer coded and I can’t wait for her and Penelope to finally be together, as they should be.

1. Lady Danbury

Lady Danbury is the most underrated character of the series. She is classy, she is clever, she is confident, she doesn’t take shit from anyone. When Simon’s mother passed away, she was the only person by her side. When Simon’s abusive father refused to offer him the love he desperately needed, she was there to encourage him and give him the support he wanted and needed. She raised him to be the duke we love. Without her, I doubt Simon and Daphne ever would’ve ended up together. Lady Danbury and Lady Violet nurtured their relationship along its rocky path and Lady Danbury was one of the only people who could talk some sense into Simon. She is the true diamond of the first season.

Feature Image designed by Kara Fields