HAPPY NEW YEARRRRRRR!!! Phew! Welcome to 2021, folks, folks, folks…. Let’s take a moment to inhale, exhale, be present, take in this moment, we are here, in 2021, imagine the new year being like a new gift with its new gift smell, slowly unwrap it, or quickly unwrap it because we are excited about it. How does it feel being here? In this place of possibility? I know there’s a lot of disclaimers that new years don’t necessarily mean new us, but it does mean a new chance to hope and you know what? I’ll take it!
Anywho last week Shonda did the lord’s work and gave us Bridgerton, funny thing, I’d never read the books or heard of the author, prior to the show (I don’t know if this is the point where my romcom card is taken away from me) but twitter was all abuzz about it, being a Shonda stan, it was definitely a must watch for me and people… I have thoughts. Thankfully, I also have a podcast to share said thoughts so let’s dive in!!!
First of all, can I just say how grateful I am, that I wasn’t born during this time. From the first scene where they were tightening the corset, I would have given up, I like air, breath, breathing, what was that. I haven’t read historical romance in a hot minute because I always have to pause, breath and remind myself that it was set in the “olden days” like we used to say.
But still the oppression though, there is no amount of compensation that can make up for the oppression women have experienced, and it cuts across all socioeconomic classes, like patriarchy will customise itself to suit your pocket. I know this is a bit of a divert but super shout out to women that got us here. Like wow, I was so stressed watching some parts, it’s not like we don’t have a long way to go but still, am I grateful for them. Anywho, I won’t really tell the story, there will be spoilers, hopefully you don’t mind but I’ll just share my thoughts randomly and let me know what stood out for you too.
Love begets love: Daphe had a very clear idea of what she wanted because she had seen it. Her mother had what I would imagine to be a probably loving relationship and wanted the same for her kids, even when the prince courted Daphe, because the mom figured that Daphe was in love with the Duke, she didn’t even send the prince like that. To the point where she was disappointed when she thought Daphe agreed to marry the prince. I feel like this romanticism (is that a word?) spilled into the things she held back? How she described the wedding night and sex, to be honest, I feel like that’s always an awkward conversation to have, especially for the time, but I’m judging her sha. It was also nice to see the contrast between her mom and Penelope’s mom (the featheringtons). About Mrs Featherington, the advice she gave that girl about finding love in small things and making those things enough in a loveless marriage, that was the one scene that made me almost like her and maybe pity her.
I wasn’t a fan of the brother in the first two episodes, I didn’t get why he insisted on her marrying that weird guy, like wtf was that?! He definitely wasn’t a safe space for his sister to the point that she couldn’t trust him to believe her when she was assaulted. The fact that it HAD to take that to happen for him to back off was infuriating. Like why wasn’t her “no, I don’t like him”, enough? It’s not like he was owing him or anything, tbh my view of him went downhill from there. Even when he was forming seeking her consent with the prince, still hated him. I love how that opera singer shut him down at the end, after treating her like some secret he wanted to save her?! I don’t get it.
The duke’s relationship with his dad: so triggering. An actual conversation needs to be had on verbal abuse between parents and kids and how it’s just as valid as intimate partner violence and should be treated with the-same urgency. I was angry, at the dad, like my God I was boiling. Whew, I won’t like it. I’m glad that revenge promise was the last thing the dad heard before he died, even though he ended up changing his mind. He doesn’t deserve forgiveness or some peaceful death, nope. I’m glad that was the last thing he heard. Having said that, a grand speech one day by someone you love isn’t the cure all every romance novel wants us to think it is. It’s ok to be seen and loved by someone you see and love, but it is important for you to see yourself and come to that realisation yourself. That could take therapy, lots and lots of it but yeah, you don’t undo years of emotional abuse and that baggage with a speech.
Aunt: now to his aunt, bless her … bless her … bless her. Phew, my god. What was that line she said about making sure every space he occupied was worthy of his respect, that line gave me chills. All hail! She clearly played a role in his carriage, her candor was so refreshing. The best combination to have in a friend or family is someone that is healthy for you and honest with you and she was that for the Duke. I actually thought she would be a lady whistledown but that would be too obvious. My point is, I love her. Another fave in the show was the queen: the shade, I love how people just wake up and choose chaos. I live through it religiously. The shade, the diva ness, the drama. I love her. I would have loved to have seen a bit more of her, hopefully in other seasons (if there would be other seasons).
The queer love, sigh, i was high key looking for some queer romance between the bidgerton brother and that artist guy. It looked like they started with that and it took a detour into the artist being in the closet (which is fair given the time) but stilllllll I wanted something, you know?
So let’s trim out the fat of everything else and zoom into the relationship. I have heard a number of responses to it, tons of women (and others) are viscellary attracted to the duke, there was a spoon moment with everyone wanting to be a spoon, you were all judged by me then, let me not lie. Ok, I liked the banter at the beginning, it was the typical friend to lover trope, for the people that carry the marry your best friend advice on their head, that was probably a win for them.
I wasn’t a fan of how he ended the friendship when he thought it was quote and unquote for her own good. It’s always very weird when people do this tough love, I’m bad for you thing, at the root of it is mostly avoidance. Like they will rather cut the partners off than do the work of confronting whatever it is. And it’s less about wanting out, and more about them wanting to burn every bridge to make sure that there is no going back. The problem with avoidance is that thing where you tell yourself to stop thinking about bunnies and you suddenly can’t get bunnies off your mind. Then you try harder and do something stupid like get drunk, kiss the girl you’re trying to avoid and agree to a duel.
Now about the not having babies thing, him making that decision, her finding out about that decision, is so complicated. I saw tweets that said that her making him cum inside her was equal to rape. Ummm, to be honest, reading all the takes made me realise that I have a lot to learn on the nuance of rape and assault. Could she have asked him straight up? Definitely! Do I want to be marginally understanding …. Yes. Another argument was that if a black girl tried this, we wouldn’t be so forgiving, so that adds another twist to the conversation. If we are going to circle back to the need to make that decision in the first place and why the Duke was so vehement about it, till she confronted him about it, he wasn’t going to consider at least questioning why he made the decision in the first place and that is a big deal. I feel like its so important to be internally motivated when it comes to things like having a child because even if he loves his wife enough to love his child, if he loses his wife, worst case scenario, and he doesn’t have a significant attachment to the child, the only thing remaining will be duty and responsibility at best and worst, he could actually become his dad. I shudder at the thought but the story almost writes itself there.
People talked about him being emotionally unavailable, I don’t think he was, or do I, hmmm. But with how ambivalent she was to the prince, there wasn’t really a choice. I think ideally, it would have been nice to see what her choice would have been like if she had more time. But love stories aren’t ideal, they happen on accident, one wrong turn and you bump into the love of your life. One mistake and fifty thousand decisions shift. So many unideallic things collaborate to create an idyllic love story and some of those elements will be problematic, but that’s life isn’t it. I’d say you should watch it, enjoy it, fantasize about someone telling you, I burn for you and move to the next love story. Except of course you have a podcast like me, then, you can rant about it too.
So what do you think? Drop a voice note on anchor, send me a dm @ sorry I only read romcoms. You should also follow me on instagram and twitter and clubhouse, I am helloaanu, i/e hello, a a n u. Talk to you in the next episode, bye!
Listen to the episode here: