I’ve always been a sucker for historical romance/drama, as shown in my continual rewatch of Pride and Prejudice (or any Jane Austen adaption), Little Women, Outlander, and The Crown. But Bridgerton is one of the newest period dramas to be added to Netflix, and, after some nagging from my friends, I watched it. And it wasn’t… terrible. Be warned, there will be spoilers while I discuss my thoughts about this show.
The show is mostly known for its music, clothes, the hot/beautiful actors, and, of course, the sex scenes. I enjoyed the music and I do think many of the actors are attractive. I mean, it’s a romance, of course, they’re going to be. And I like how the music used is a mix between time periods, mixing in the instrumental version of modern songs.
Despite not completely loving the show, I will admit, I do love a lot of the characters and the relationships they have with each other. They seem so real to me, like actual siblings/friends. Eloise and Daphne have different ideas of how they want their lives to go, and they struggle to understand each other’s views. Colin is 100% a himbo, he’s so sweet and is willing to help everyone. Marina’s story was so tragic, and I equally felt bad for her and didn’t like her decisions, really emphasizing how difficult her situation would be for women in that time period. But my favorite would have to be Simon, his backstory really tugged at my heartstrings. I also grew up with a stutter (and a lisp), so I understood how embarrassed he must have felt growing up, feeling as though he wasn’t as smart as he should have been.
All the characters were so different and funny, and the interactions they had with each other really made it seem as though they had known each other for a long time. Anthony, despite being my least favorite sibling, can really be shown trying his best to be head of the family and still maintain that childhood friendship he had with his siblings. He might be a douche occasionally, but hopefully, the next season will show more of his affection for his family.
This show is based on a book series by Julia Quinn, and I had read the first book before watching it, so I already knew what the basic story would be. And, I’ll be honest, I hated the book. It was okay at first, but there was a scene towards the end that made me completely hate Daphne. At that point, I stopped considering the book, “The Duke and I” as a romance, more like a story of a girl who ignores the choices of those around her and receives little to no consequences. Let me explain it clearly: There is a marital rape scene in the book. Daphne, who knows that Simon doesn’t want children, forces herself on him while he is drunk and unable to stop her. This scene truly disgusted me, and I couldn’t believe that this book was considered “amazing”, and “romantic” by so many readers. And there were no consequences for Daphne, instead, Quinn ignores the actuality of the scene she wrote and just swerves into focusing once again on the romance.
Since I knew this scene couldn’t have been considered acceptable for a TV show, I had high hopes that Netflix wouldn’t adopt that part of the story. Little did I know, I was wrong. Instead of Simon being drunk, he’s just a little tired in the show when Daphne rapes him. And, once again, it is basically ignored. There is no mention of the fact that Daphne violated Simon, instead, it is just considered a “minor” bump in the road for their romance. I can’t believe that Netflix chose to put this scene in the show, and they cannot even claim to have not realized it. They had the thought to change Simon from being drunk, showing they were very much aware of how audiences would view the scene. They knew it was wrong enough to change that detail, yet not enough to get rid of the scene entirely. If the roles were reversed there would be more discussion about this scene, but because it’s a woman raping a man no one seems to realize.
I can’t ignore the fact that Netflix seems to think it’s okay to show such a scene and then consider the show and Daphne and Simon’s relationship as romantic. In fact, I only kept going with the show afterward just to watch Marina’s story (she wasn’t a character in the first book). I can only hope that Netflix decides to either show very little of Daphne and Simon in the next seasons or none at all. I’d be willing to watch a season on Anthony, or any of the rest of the Bridgerton siblings, but I don’t think I can put up with Netflix attempting to persuade the audience to see Daphne and Simon as a great love story once again.
Overall, while Bridgerton is a very pretty show, with beautiful dresses, fun music, and interesting characters, audiences can’t ignore the bad bones that the story has. Rape is never romantic, nor should it be considered a minor bump in a relationship. It goes along with the stigma that is surrounding men coming forward with their own assault stories. It’s normalizing it, and we should be talking about it instead of ignoring it.