The hit sequence Bridgerton remains to be trending all over the place, following Netflix’s reveal that 63 million households have tuned into the historic drama since its Dec. 25 launch. The present, which boasts a powerful behind-the-scenes crew together with government producer Shonda Rhimes, affords a racially numerous 19th-century England, full with stunning robes, corsets, elaborate hairstyles, and an amusing rendition of Ariana Grande’s hit music “Thank U, Subsequent.” Nonetheless, it falls quick in its downplaying of the complexities of race, presenting a fable of a colorblindness, the place race is almost invisible. In doing so, Bridgerton units a harmful precedent by not acknowledging the challenges of what occurs when race enters the room and the monarchy.
Whereas the primary season is filled with pairings, the primary storyline is the fairy-tale romance between Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), a white lady, and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Web page), Duke of Hastings, a Black man. The topic of race is vaguely talked about within the eight-episode interval drama, which is a strikingly completely different method from how different interracial relationships have been depicted throughout the Shondaland enterprise.
Reveals have to embrace being color-brave, addressing the subjects of race and racism head on. Solely by having extra conversations about racism can we actively start the work to dismantle the system of racism.
“The very first thing you see is the forged, this superb numerous forged,” present creator Chris Van Dusen mentioned of the present’s intentional decisions to interact in color-conscious casting. Coloration-conscious casting is a course of meant to be extra inclusive, the place race is a consideration in casting, notably for roles which were historically reserved for white actors and actresses. Whereas casting is essential in numerous storytelling, Bridgerton’s omission of race presents a false colorblind narrative giving the phantasm of a postracial society, the place racism now not exists. This oversimplification of the impression of racism is particularly harmful given the context of historical past in addition to our nation’s present racial reckoning. Race has actual implications inside society, and that truth cannot be ignored regardless of color-conscious casting efforts.
For a real-world instance of the insidious operate of racism throughout the monarchy, look no additional than when Meghan Markle, a light-skinned Black lady, was subjected to racial bias and discrimination by the British media, by whom she was branded as “troublesome,” a trope all too acquainted to Black ladies. The cumulative impact of this model of racism, and the denial of it, resulted within the Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry saying in early 2020 that they might be exiting from their official roles throughout the royal household.
Bridgerton is an epic piece of tv that gives us with escapism throughout a darkish time as we endure dwelling via a world pandemic. Nonetheless, within the present’s try and be racially progressive, it truly whitewashes the Black characters, a step backward in its quest to assist its viewers grapple with race and racism. Reveals have to embrace being color-brave, addressing the subjects of race and racism head on. Solely by having extra conversations about racism can we actively start the work to dismantle the system of racism.
I hope season two of Bridgerton turns into extra color-brave in its storytelling slightly than hand-waving away the subject fully. It will convey extra depth to each the characters and storyline, encouraging viewers to have extra sincere, albeit troublesome, conversations on race. In doing so, Bridgerton will seal its cultural affect extending past a fairy story fantasizing a world free from racism.
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