Hello friends! I believe I’ve only done one other tv show review (for Hannah Montana a long time ago), but I’ve been wanting to do this post ever since I finished season two of Bridgerton.
Before I get start on my thoughts, I want to warn you that:
- I have not read the books this show is based on
- I do not like this show
- There will be spoilers in this!
If you’re still interested in reading what I have to say after that, keep scrolling!
Let’s break this review into multiple parts.
I have nothing against the casting done for this tv show. I honestly didn’t know who any of these people were before I watched this other than Freddie Stroma , Anthony Head, and Julie Andrews.
Similar to many other viewers, I was intrigued that this show took on a sort of colorblind culture when casting. I initially believed it was simply the choice of the show-makers to have a nice diverse cast and that we were just pretending this took place in a sort of alternate universe where race doesn’t matter. However, at some point a Black character (Lady Danbury, I believe) mentions that the reason racism doesn’t “exist” in this show is because the king fell in love with “one of us”, erasing everyone’s bigotry. I honestly didn’t like that they added that little footnote to the show because it felt very naive and unrealistic to just say that one person’s actions could undue the harm and hatred of others. I’m curious to know what other people thought about this.
I am also aware that there was some controversy that the casting, though diverse, was colorist. Certain viewers believed that the main POC characters were light-skinned, with the darker-skinned characters being portrayed as villains. It should be noted that this controvery happened prior to the casting announcements for season two. I don’t particularly agree with this belief seeing as I don’t think of Lady Danbury nor Will Mondrich as villainous characters, but I can understand why some people might have been unsatisfied.
As far as the acting goes, I was pretty happy with everyones acting. In particular, I think many of us enjoy the expressive faces that certain characters have in most of their scenes (*cough* Eloise and Benedict *cough*). My only real issue is probably with Jonathan Bailey (the actor who plays Anthony) in season two. It felt like he was just constantly making the same weird expression in all of his scenes. I think it was supposed to be sexy(?) but I wasn’t into it.
I hate so many of the characters in Bridgerton that I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to like. The following characters are people I do not at all care for in the show:
- Daphne Bridgerton
- Anthony Bridgerton
- Kate Sharma
- Penelope Featherington
- Colin Bridgerton
- Marina Thompson
- Lady Portia Featherington
- Siena Rosso
- Lady Cowper
The top five people were either the main characters in seasons 1-2 or will be in season 3, so I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be cheering them on, even though I 100% don’t want to.
I think the point the books/show is trying to make is that even our heroes are flawed, but I think it goes way too far, honestly. The characters constantly manipulate, violate, and abuse each other for their own self gain. Why should I hope for their happy endings?
I will say that I do adore some of the characters in the show. Namely:
- Simon Basset (The Duke of Hastings)
- Eloise Bridgerton
- Edwina Sharma
- Lady Danbury
- Prince Friederich
In season one (based on The Duke and I), the story follows the love between Daphne Bridgerton and The Duke of Hastings. I was enjoying this for the first few episodes until I decided that I did not like Daphne. From the very start of the show, the Duke is pretty much open and honest about all of his intensions, but Daphne repeatedly ignores the things he’s saying because she’s attracted to him. For example, he tells her that he doesn’t want to get married and instead of going with the amazing match of Prince Friederich, she decides to use the Prince to make the Duke jealous with the hopes of wrestling a proposal out of it.
Now, do I really have to talk about the rape? Before the Duke and Daphne agree to get married, he warns her that he cannot have children. She says it’s totally fine and that she wants to marry him anyways. She later finds out that what he meant was not that he was incapable of having children, but that he doesn’t want to have children. Instead of, I don’t know, having a conversation about the misunderstanding, she rapes him (i.e. she tops him in bed and makes it so he can’t pull out when he’s ejaculating which is what he had been doing previously). He, understandably, feels upset and betrayed by this.
I had hoped that the show was going to make this a teachable moment about the different types of rape, consent, communication, etc., but this is not at all what happens. Instead we get the two characters yelling at each other with Daphne saying that the Duke “lied to her” which like, bro, calm down. He didn’t lie to you; he just used the word “can’t” instead of “wont” when he said he can’t have children and you made an incorrect assumption.
Perhaps the part that annoyed me the most was the fact that because the show didn’t condemn Daphne’s actions as rape (and eventually kind of sided with Daphne by making the Duke change his mind about children in the end), viewers soon ended up arguing that it wasn’t in fact rape. I can’t even begin to tell you how harmful that storyline (and the audiences reaction) must have been for rape victims.
Moving on to season two where the story follows head of house Anthony Bridgerton and his hate-to-love romance with Kate Sharma, the sister of the woman he is official courting.
Listen, I’m a huge fan of the hate-to-love trope, but I hated both of these characters from the get go, so I found their “romance” super annoying. The woman that Anthony is official courting, Edwina Sharma, was one of the nicest, purest cinnamon roles on the planet. I can’t believe both of them would put her through the emotional rollercoaster that they did instead of just being honest at literally any point.
In reality, Anthony and Kate were kind of a perfect match in that both of them were meddling, manipulative, and selfish when it came to “helping” their siblings find a match during courting season. We saw the worst of Anthony’s meddling in season one with Daphne, and Kate does basically the exact same thing in season two with Edwina. They were the epitome of “you don’t know what’s best for you. I know what’s best for you”. I hate-watched this entire season just because I wanted to know what was going to happen to all the other character arcs.
I know that I spent a lot of the previous sections ragging on this series, but it honestly makes great television. It is very clear to me that Shondaland knows how to make compelling TV shows, regardless of how flawed and hatable their characters/plots may be.
What we have with Bridgerton is a show that is 100% bingeable and is sure to continue to be popular. It’s almost impossible to only watch one episode at a time, as each one leaves you wanting to immediately start the next.
I hated so many of these characters and found the main romantic plots to not be worth my attention, but I never once thought about DNFing the show. Watching Bridgerton was like a car crash, and you can bet your bottoms that I’m going to be tuning into (and probably hate-watching once again) season three.