Bridgerton S2: Long-Awaited Inclusivity in The Romance Genre

Gianna Amato

What is Bridgerton?

Bridgerton, a popular book series turned television show, was released on Netflix back in 2020. The show centers on one sibling of the prominent Bridgerton family attempting to find love during courting season in 1800s London. Clara Bennett-Jones, a junior at Ramapo, says that, “Bridgerton’s second season successfully made a sensitive romantic out of Anthony Bridgerton, who the audience could have reasonably degraded to nothing more than a stoic eldest brother after watching season one. Viewers get to watch as he indulges in pursing love as opposed to upholding his duties.”At the time of the first season’s release, the world was in shambles dealing with the height of COVID-19. People had an abundance of time in quarantine and for many of us, a lot of our time was spent looking for the next show to binge. Bridgerton not only filled our time with entertainment, but the overt themes of love and affection also filled the romance-shaped hole in our hearts after spending so much of the year alone. The first season took the world by storm, and despite its controversies, the show was renewed for another season. On March 25, 2022, the next chapter of the Bridgerton sibling romances was added to Netflix. Overall, the series is well-liked. Its gripping nature can be credited to its unique take on period dramas. For example, they use the instrumental versions of modern music rather than music from the era itself. More significantly, the show also includes high-ranking characters of all different skin colors, which is something that is not historically accurate but makes for a much more interesting and inclusive series.

The Romance Genre

Historically, the romance genre has had a very particular and exclusive image. Some of the biggest romance films of all time (The Notebook, Titanic, Casablanca…) all have the same commonalities. The leads were usually white and almost always heterosexual; there wasn’t much room for disabilities, uniqueness, or abnormalities of any sort. Bridgerton manages to break this stereotype in both seasons of the series. This latest season has impacted many people as it happens to showcase an Indian woman as the romantic interest for one of the Bridgerton brothers. One Ramapo junior explains that the most “refreshing part was that being Indian was only a small part of her character. Although her culture wasn’t abandoned entirely, it wasn’t what made her special. It was her remarkable mind and admirable characteristics that made her stand-out from the other women, not her skin color. ”

The Impact of Diverse Romantic Leads

This may seem small to some, but for millions of people who never grew up seeing people that looked like them on television, this is monumental. Especially when it comes to romantic relationships in films. The pinnacle of beauty has always been thin, light-skinned, conventionally beautiful women: a standard that is impossible to meet for the majority of the population. So, to see two women like Kate and Edwina Sharma, the two love interests this season, finally be seen in a romantic light is extremely impactful for young people watching. Many people of color grew up thinking they could never be seen as alluring or be loved by anyone if they didn’t fit the mold set by the romance genre in the past. Thus, Bridgerton putting women of color in the spotlight this season, all without centering their storyline on their culture while simultaneously not erasing it, is a step in the right direction for the romance genre.