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Why Bridgerton Season 3 is good for female representation in romance

Adapted from the novels by Julia Quinn, the romance series Bridgerton has been a global hit since its 2020 launch on Netflix. The third season, eagerly awaited by fans and released online on May 16, follows the loves of Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton. Is the recipe still the right one?

Launched three years after Me Too, the series produced by Shonda Rhimes immerses us in the English Regency, at the beginning of the 19th century, in a universe where patriarchy rhymes with… inclusiveness! An entire programme, paradoxical to be sure, but which managed to conquer an international audience, modernizing the recipe of Jane Austen’s fairy tale.

Unlike the novels, where the characters are white, the series is set in the court of Queen Charlotte, a black female character, after whom a spin-off has been named, broadcast in 2023. This strong artistic choice allowed us to add diversity (racialized aristocrats) to a genre, the romantic comedy, which is historically very white. In the first season, Prince Charming (Regé-Jean Page) is black, while in the second season, the princess (Simone Ashley) is Indian. Four years later, when we know the recipe by heart Bridgerton (misunderstandings, dancing, wedding of a member of the Bridgerton tribe, sex)does the third season still have something to tell us?

More heroines with different bodies in novels

In terms of representation the answer is yes. We wish we weren’t there anymore. It’s still. Romantic comedies continue to systematically present heroines in current beauty standards. Her artists, however fabulous, are all tall and thin. And if they’re racialized, which is really rare, they have light skin.

Just take a look at recent or expected rom coms: Updated with Camila Mendes, Everything except you with Sydney Sweeney, Challengers with Zendaya, The idea of ​​being with you with Anne Hathaway, The boy of autumn with Emily Blunt, It ends with us with Blake Lively… In this context, we can only be happy to see the third season of Bridgerton centered on the loves and dilemmas of Penelope Featherington, played by the excellent Nicola Coughlan (discovered in Derry girls).

For a long time Penelope had a crush on her childhood friend, Colin Bridgerton, but she’s stuck in the friend zone and trying to move on. In this new season, the young woman is determined to find a husband who is not too annoying, who will allow her to carry on her secret career (spoiler alert, Pen is the pen behind the satirical chronicles of Lady Whistledown, read by all). the courtyard). For his part, having just returned from a world tour that turned him into a playboy (a rather far-fetched transformation but hey, it’s a romantic comedy!), Colin offers to help his friend seduce these gentlemen. We’ll let you imagine what will happen next…

For this third season, Jess Brownell, the new showrunner (succeeding Chris Van Dusen) has had fun with the clichés of romantic comedies and it shows! “We talked a lot about She’s Too Good and, more generally, the films of Richard Curtis and Nora Ephron. » he confided to Vogue. In fact, the two characters – cute fan favorites but so far not very glamorous – undergo a makeover (clothes for Penelope, muscles for Colin) that is as superficial as it is fun.

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If Luke Newton has less playing nuance than Nicola Coughlan, their chemistry works pretty well. We remember this moment when Penelope licks her fingers while eating a cupcake, under Colin’s worried eyes. The staging performs a calculated male gaze on parts of Penelope’s body, aiming to show that a round or fat character (the eternally cute good friend never sexualized in comedies) can also be sexy.

And then the camera Bridgerton gives equality: he also focuses on Colin’s body, as he knew how to do for his previous heroes. The sex scenes, supervised by intimacy coordinator Lizzy Talbot, could have been spicier, but they have the merit of eliciting consent.

Towards standardization

The most important issue of the season is not that Colin falls under the spell of the “ugly duckling of the series”, which in reality he never was (Nicola Coughlan is very pretty, with her porcelain complexion and her curly red hair ), but rather the conflict this will create in Penelope, the most independent and complex character in Bridgerton due to her secret identity.

We believe that the writers are walking on eggshells with Penelope and that they want to do justice to this very important character in the saga. Note that Bridgerton was split into two parts this season (no thanks Netflix), which gives a false impression of slowness. The final four episodes, which will be released online on June 13, are much more exciting on every level.

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©Netflix

“If you have an opinion about my body, please don’t share it with me.” (Nicola Coughlan)

I am pleased to highlight Penelope and her talented actress, Nicola Coughlan, who also stars in the drama in England Great mood (soon, a French broadcaster!). And I’m not the only one. In the comments for the third season trailer of Bridgerton shared on YouTube, writes user @formulamandi : “As a plus size person struggling to find love, it’s amazing to see that characters who look like us can shine and have their chance to find love! »

We can never write it enough, representation matters. And that to Bridgerton is successful: Penelope is never reduced to her body. That’s not the point. She is an exciting, longing and desirable character. Beyond her relationship with Colin, the season also develops her relationship with her mother and her conflicted friendship with Eloise. The series therefore helps to normalize the presence of heroines with different body types.

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©Netflix

We live in a fatphobic society, I won’t tell you, and I fear the comments the actress will face, as she has been since the first season of the series. The representation of different female body types is so rare in Hollywood that the star has found herself, despite herself, an ambassador of “plus size” and “body positive”. Her dearest wish? Don’t tell him about her body.

“Every time I’m asked about my body in an interview, I feel deeply uncomfortable and I’m so sad that I’m not allowed to talk about my job, which I love so much.” she explained to her fans in 2021. A sentiment that echoes that expressed by Hunter Schafer, the actress who wants to be recognized for her talent and not constantly brought back to her transience. The two women, seeking normalization, face the burden of the lack of representation of different female characters.

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Source: Madmoizelle

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