Bridgerton 3 Is Out – Why Is It A Guilty Pleasure For So Many Women?!

Though Bridgerton 3 is very much a 21st century production with the strong-willed, feisty women who speak their mind, there is much that is regressive.

Queen Charlotte – A Bridgerton Story is out on Netflix, also called Bridgerton 3. This is a limited series, a spinoff of the madly popular Shonda Rhimes Bridgerton series based on Julia Quinn’s Regency romance book series. The recently released spinoff is a prequel that tells us the queen’s backstory. It is set a few decades previous to the first and second seasons and we learn about how Queen Charlotte became the formidable force she is portrayed to be.

We also understand more about ‘the experiment’ which tries to explain why regency England is peopled with non-white nobility; something we know to be complete fabrication. The stories are unlikely, even preposterous in bits. So what accounts for the fact that the series enjoys record breaking viewership? Why is Bridgerton, with all its improbability, inaccuracy the guilty pleasure of so many?

KISS

Yes, there some very aesthetically done intimate scenes in each of the three seasons; some fairly explicit ones as well. But that isn’t what I’m talking about. Here KISS stands for Keep It Simple Stupid.

A romance story is always thus: the two meet, there is conflict or misunderstanding – but also some fairly scorching chemistry. It is all resolved when the two declare their love for each other. A happy ending – always. We don’t have to bother overmuch with complexity, nuance, realism — it all quite simple and supremely satisfying.

Love, actually

Love stories have always been some of the most timeless and memorable stories ever told. I remember going through a longish phase of devouring whatever romance novels I could lay my hands on. I well remember my older male cousins making jokes about Milk & Boobs books (Mills & Boon to the uninitiated) and laughing uproariously at their infantile jokes.

Besides, who doesn’t want to be loved to distraction, to be the centre of someone’s universe in ways that all else becomes immaterial? The romance, the grand gestures, the big showdowns and the happily-ever-afters — it is all the stuff of dreams. What’s not to like!

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Pretty people

Look at these men and women – just look at them! They are all just so pretty! When the characters are that easy on the eye it’s no hardship watching the series – though it may be ever so illogical, historically inaccurate, utterly escapist and even predictable. Plus, Bridgerton has lovely locales, grand sets, beautiful clothes, et el. Say it with me – what’s not to like!

Bridgerton & representation

The series is supposed to be set in regency era England, which was the late 18th and early 19th century. This was a deeply unequal, striated society divided rigidly along feudal lines, where one’s birth decided one’s fate. The royals, aristocrats and commoners all ‘knew their place’. It wasn’t just a deeply hierarchical society, but a deeply racist and segregated one.

The series showing the races mingling and marrying freely; is very much a product of the imagination of the 21st century TV production company Shondaland. We also see some same sex relationships; again taboo for the time. It is all wildly inaccurate and incongruous but it’s fun! Besides, representation is important. For many viewers, this is one of the things that makes this series so enjoyable.

Regressive? Maybe the romance genre is!

Though this is very much a 21st century production with the strong-willed, feisty women who speak their mind, there is much that is regressive.

  • Daphne is told that her only job is to land a good catch and marry.
  • Penelope hides and writes because ladies must not soil their hands with commerce.
  • Charlotte is married off to a complete stranger without so much as a bye your leave; never mind that said stranger is king of the then most powerful country in the world.
  • Women must marry early; else they are considered nailed to the proverbial shelf.
  • Gender roles and expectations are very much in place and the agency of most women is still largely nonexistent.

One could argue that the very romance genre is flawed; regressive by definition. There is the young, inexperienced, virginal woman who is awakened and initiated by the older, experienced man. The man is the archetypal rake who has liberally sowed his wild oats; who will proceed to treat the woman like dirt before he discovers true love, and is then transformed and reformed by said true love.

So yes, we could call Bridgerton regressive in many ways. We could call it a guilty pleasure. But then, if it is pleasurable, what’s with the guilt? Excuse me now, I have a date with the third episode of Queen Charlotte – A Bridgerton Story on Netflix, where I am about to discover what ails the king… and I refuse to feel even the tiniest shred of guilt.

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About the Author

Reena Daruwalla

A former lawyer, now freelance writer, fauji wife, mother, singer, knitter and lover of my own cooking, I have altogether too many opinions and too few convictions. The more I learn the more I am read more...

38 Posts | 26,806 Views

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