You know the way some people were like ‘Diversity in period drama doesn’t work’….63 million households thought it did tho so ? https://t.co/mQ2rXysacN
— Nicola Coughlan (@nicolacoughlan) January 5, 2021
More, please, dear Bridgertons.
What? You haven’t binge-watched “Bridgerton” yet?
Okay. I hadn’t either. Until last weekend.
Generally, I feel so beyond this marshmallow, fluffy, bosom-blooming, anglophilic, saucy sex-and-scandal fairy tale. The last time I fell down the romance hole I was 18. During our winter semester, my college roommates and I huddled around the TV, living and breathing “All My Children.” When we started imagining characters from the show wearing clothes we saw at the mall, I knew I was out of control.
I told myself romantic drama was a thing for teens, but then I got up at the crack of dawn to watch the live wedding proceedings of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. And I have to admit, I had a Princess Diana haircut for a while. And I did read and sob through Wuthering Heights over and over. Oh, and I recently named my puppy Emma.
So, I guess I am a big fat liar. My romance love affair is simmering below the surface at perfect tea temperature. With lemon and one lump of sugar please.
But there was something different about “Bridgerton.” Trailers showed a Black woman as the English queen—fancy that. Why not?
I saw an Instagram meme of a young Black woman in slouchy sweats watching the first “Bridgerton” episode, then another photo of her later in the series, sipping tea in a ballgown with her pinkie elevated. I was more interested. If I was really being honest, it had to be better than “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”
So I did it. The door closed Saturday morning as my husband headed out and I settled in—and found myself entranced. Yes, it is beautifully filmed and produced by the incomparable Black producer Shonda Rhimes.
It is a lovely, saucy, sexy period piece voiced by Julie Andrews. The sex scenes are far from pornographic—he asks her if she is ready, and really, truly listens to her. He asks her what she wants as they begin their sexy time. Oh my.
It was great fun, had interesting story lines, and included well-developed characters. I was sad to see it end.
But “Bridgerton” is more than fluff.
This is fluff with a mission.
What is really beautiful about this series is the normalization of skin tone. Much like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, “Hamilton,” in this imagined history, there is absolutely no weight given to the color of a person’s skin. None. At every level of society, all skin colors are represented.
And I began to think…what if this was no surprise to us?
We are all becoming aware, more and more, of the truth of our human history, of centuries of labeling, and of sorting humans as “good” and “bad” based on their skin and culture of origin, and we are hopefully aware that the cancer of racism is still powerful and prolific.
What if now, we all begin to imagine a different world—in our stories, our music, and our culture? What if all our fairy tales mirror society as it could be, as it can be, and as it must be?
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” If more producers, directors, writers, singers, and storytellers weave tales of this beloved community of ethical equanimity, then we will it into being.