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Bridgerton - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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My last post spoke about my renewed love for love stories, chick-lits or rom-coms or anything else you might want to call it. While I have warmed up to reading them, watching them is something I'm slowly inching my way through. One of the things that I did not mention in my last post is that my repulsion to romantic reads was triggered by Jane Austen. I've read almost all her books with the hope of finding something good in at least one of them. Sense and Sensibility was the only book of hers that I did not hate. I did not like it, but I did not hate it either. Don't even get me started on her other books. So, when a show called Bridgerton hit our screens and everyone immediately went gaga over it, I watched its trailer. It was as Austenesque as it could get and while everything inside me told me not to watch it, the curious Lioness in me wanted to watch it to see what the hype was all about.

Based on Julia Quinn's novels, Bridgerton is the story of the Bridgerton family, duh! Dowager Viscountess Violet Bridgeton, who interesting wears only shades of violet, is the family matriarch and mother to eight children. It is their family tradition to name their children alphabetically, hence we have Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory and Hyacinth. Since they do not have a father, Anthony's shoulders are burdened by that responsibility. The first episode, set in London in 1813, opens to the "presenting" or "coming out" of Daphne, the first daughter, which is to announce that she is now available for marriage. Her sole intention in life is expected to be marriage. She needs to find as many suitors as she can and wait for them to propose and make her decision. When she is "presented" in front of the Queen, she is termed as the diamond of the season. As expected, suitors flock her, but she is in search of pure love. The kind of love her parents had.

Enter, Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings and Anthony's best friend, who does not want to find a bride as he never wants to marry or sire a child. Why? Childhood trauma. He is rich, tall, dark and gallantly handsome. As expected, suitors flock him too. To protect his bachelorhood, he gets into a ruse with Daphne where they pretend to be a couple. This would discourage women from seducing him, but men are expected to find her more desirable now as she's being courted by the Duke. Sparks fly between the two of them and yet both are too proud to accept their feelings for each other. When a certain situation forces them to get married, their future hangs in the balance. Simon is clear on not wanting to have children, but Daphne's sole dream has been to be a mother. How will this marriage work?

Throw in brightly colored and in your face loud neighbors called the Featheringtons, a seductive singer who is the secret lover of one of the men mentioned above, a desperate spinster Cressida Cowper, a young girl who is pregnant without marriage, millions and millions of bowls and parties and a mysterious writer aptly called Lady Whistledown who writes a gossip newsletter detailing everything that is happening to everyone in the town; that's Bridgerton for you. I binge watched the series and this is what I thought of it.

I haven't read the books, I don't think I ever will. So what I say below is purely based on the TV series alone.

The Good:

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~ Absolutely gorgeous setting. The houses, the horses, the gardens; they are such a treat to the eyes. 

~ A mixed cast. It was such a delight having a non-white character play the lead in a 1800s drama. No one talks about his ethnicity ever. There are other people of color in the series as well, and no big deal is made about them. Such a relief!

~ Eloise. Her character is the only one who doesn't want to get married on the series and she actually has other dreams for herself. Will she be able to do something about it, we need to see.

~ A stunning and pleasing to the eye cast.

~ Acceptance of homosexuality. Almost. This is in 1813, mind you.

~ The execution of the steamy scenes. Boy oh boy, were they hot!

The Bad:

~ Women throwing themselves at men.

~ Thinking that finding a partner is the only thing in life.

~ Those anti gravity corsets that push the breasts of women almost to their shoulders. How did the cast breathe with them? I understand that this is era appropriate, still, it hurt to just look at them.

~ The story line of Marina Thompson. She could have done so much better for herself.

~ The revelation of Lady Whistledown. This was the weakest link in the story as it was quite clear to me from episode one who it was.

The Ugly:

~ Lack of sexual education. When Simon tells Daphne that he cannot have a child, he means that he doesn't want to have a child. Daphne on the other hand thinks that it means he can't have sex. When she realizes that he can actually do it, she doesn't know why she isn't getting pregnant. Even though it is shown in vivid detail what Simon is doing to ensure that Daphne doesn't get pregnant. Be it 1813 or 2021, looks like mothers just want to hurry and get their daughters married without telling them anything about sex or procreation. 

~ Lack of consent and conversation between partners. When Daphne finally realizes what it takes from the man to get pregnant, she forces him into it even though he tries to stop her. A simple conversation about why he doesn't want to have children would have brought a lot of mental peace to both of them.

~ Simon's healing not shown. Again, be it 1813 or 2021, the mental health of men continues to be ignored. Simon's childhood trauma is not easy to overcome and yet he just snaps out of it one fine day. It would have been amazing if Daphne could have helped him heal and the process shown to the audience. It would have been a testament to their love. But no. In a show where they prefer to show the man's derrière as often as they can, his mental health is not considered important.

~ Society. Honestly, how much has changed since then? Girls who have just come of age are expected to dress up and look pretty and ladylike so that they can land a good husband. Nothing else is important to women than to have a child. Will this ever change?

Bridgerton is a good show, because the story has been executed well. Though it comes with its share of clichés and predictable endings, it sure as hell is a guilty pleasure.

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