Bridgerton’s Poisonous Romance Story Failed the Audience

Warning: SPOILERS for Bridgerton.

For all that, it’s a fun watch, BridgertonThe Toxic Regency-era romance disappointed its modern audience. The main story of season 1 revolves around the chaotic relationship between Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), Duke of Hastings. Romance, which starts out as a gimmick of comfort and eventually develops into a true love relationship, goes through more than a few ups and downs on the way to marriage.

Bridgerton is set in 1813 during London’s high society social season, which would be more properly called “looking for a rich husband” or “finding a suitable wife so you can continue with family degree season.” It’s the Regency’s equivalent of semi-speed dating, with balls set for girls “entering” society to meet and attract the attention of London’s most qualified (and, hopefully, wealthy) bachelors, even better off if bachelors have titles with their family names. This is far from modern times: Women from aristocratic and aristocratic families were not expected to work or teach commerce. Instead, they are taught social skills and wives ‘tricks, such as playing piano, sewing, entertaining guests, and playing flirting to attract suitors’ attention. In addition to some anachronistic music in several scenes, Bridgerton season 1 plays it straight, so it makes sense the historical accuracy of the courtship ritual remains intact. However, this is not true Bridgertonthe real problem.

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Problem with Bridgerton not in the way of describing society, but in the way of describing the relationship between Daphne and Simon. Beneath the layers of romance, it’s a mutually manipulative and toxic relationship and one that shouldn’t be imitated. Unfortunately, this kind of relationship is what Bridgerton chose to concentrate, and in so doing, the show failed for its modern audience.

Simon and Daphne’s relationship is not one to admire

Simon Lord sped up Bridgerton

The relationship between Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset / Hastings is not meant to be admired; it only serves to reinforce the destructive allusion to the relationship. It’s presented as a romance worthy of swooning, but it’s not romantic at all. Their initial relationship started as a reciprocal hoax: Daphne needed to break out of her arranged engagement to the disgusting Lord Berbrooke, while Simon needed an excuse to stop women from throwing themselves at him, so they agreed to pretend to be dating to throw the other person off his scent. .

As their feelings for each other turn into something real, Daphne’s total innocence and years of being taught how to manipulate men and Simon’s emotional dwarf come to the surface. From the start, they were no match: Daphne wanted a marriage and children while Simon had sworn it out completely – a total deal-breaker in any normal relationship. Instead, they spend the season trying to change each other, resulting in an unhealthy trade-off dynamic in which they unite in passion before pushing each other away.

Even worse, Daphne manipulates Simon and Simon lies to Daphne. Simon’s immense pride regarding the oath he made to his abusive father that he would never marry or have children was such that he was willing to die like a fool rather than marry Daphne. She was even still sticking to this after she had the potential to damage her reputation, the Lady Whistledown scandal would surely spread far and wide. Simon tells Daphne that he can’t marry her because of him can not have children – a very different thing from the usual give birth. She accepts this and agrees to marry him, however, sacrificing her dream of children to keep her up – but she also doesn’t really give him a choice in matters of marriage. After learning the truth after they get married, however, he frames her to finally settle in on him when they have sex in the hopes of getting pregnant. It was disgusting, it was equally disrespectful, and not once had they had such a mature conversation about any of it. However Bridgerton presenting their relationship completely romantic.

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Bridgerton differs from books in several ways

Bridgerton TV show poster

Bridgerton adapted from the romance novel series by Julia Quinn. The first book that underlies season 1, Duke and me, first published in 2000 – twenty years ago, long before culture was built, the #MeToo movement, and our growing understanding of healthy gender consent and dynamics. It can be said that series creator Chris Van Dusen didn’t want him at all BridgertonThe character or story strays from the dramatic book.

However, this argument fails to remember Bridgerton have no problem making major changes from the original source material in other areas. The identity of Lady Whistledown, which wasn’t revealed until the fourth book of the series, is revealed at the end of season 1. In the book, Daphne’s older brother, Anthony, is well aware of her and Simon’s ruse. Marina Thompson’s character is only mentioned in the fifth book, and then only briefly because the story is so tragic; in the show, he’s given a whole new arc and makes a character that stands out. The series also introduced half a dozen new characters first-hand who never appeared in a book.

Most importantly, the series changes one key, the controversial order of the book. In the book, the scene where Daphne forces Simon to settle inside is, quite frankly, rape: In the book, Simon is drunk and sleeping when Daphne wakes him up and has sex with him in his sleep, forcing him to ejaculate into himself. she can get pregnant. She did not feel sorry for her actions, and despite the sexual harassment scene was silenced Bridgerton, Daphne’s lack of regret carried over into the series. However, it’s clear that the creators and showrunners knew that the scene from the book was problematic and changed it, which made it even worse because they left the remaining poison intact.

Bridgerton Can Make Drama Without Toxicity

Bridgerton Ending Meaning

For all of that Bridgerton is watch fun, unfortunately, it hinges on two outdated story tropes: 1. A toxic relationship that is thought to be romance and 2. A dramatic plot that can easily be resolved by two characters having a single conversation. It’s such a pity Bridgerton may actually reinvent the way romantic stories, especially period romances, are told. The problems with London’s patriarchal society are explained in this series. The audience is made to understand with certainty that women who are trafficked like precious cattle are ancient and misogynistic. It was made to understand that Anthony’s domineering control over his sister’s life was outrageous and wrong. It was made to understand the utterly ridiculous pressure in which the sons and daughters of aristocrats lived, and that a society that controlled and judged strictly was not something to admire.

I wish Bridgerton choosing to give Daphne and Simon a less toxic relationship, it would become the center of attention that attracted their entire oppressive society. It won’t be impossible. Their dramatic arc doesn’t need to revolve around lies; it could revolve around Daphne struggling to accept Simon’s vow to never have children, for example. In a society that operates on gossip and hidden truth, Simon and Daphne who are honest with each other will become attractive and welcome mirrors. Bridgerton eschewing the traditional and toxic norms of the era to demonstrate a healthier relationship that was still not without problems would give audiences – especially women watching – something fresh and admirable. Unfortunately, Bridgerton squandering the opportunity lazily reinforces the old, destructive, and weary stereotypes of the “ideal” romantic relationship, and in doing so harms the listener.

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