It only takes a few minutes of watching Netflix’s new period drama Bridgerton to notice that it is unlike most shows in its genre. Yes, other shows have elaborate storylines and British accents, but unlike most period dramas about aristocracy, it has Black people who are not slaves or servants, go figure! This has upset several trolls on the internet, but Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington, has a word or two for all the thinly veiled racism.
What is ‘Bridgerton’ about?
Bridgerton Season 1 takes viewers through Daphne Bridgerton’s first social season as an eligible woman. As she, the Featherington girls, and every other girl in her age group enter the dating scene, they all quickly learn that finding a match is not as easy as they had hoped. Daphne starts the season out with many suitors but her oldest brother Anthony scares them all away. In order to get more men interested, she and the Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett, strike up a deal to pretend to be courting. But Daphne and Simon aren’t the only two members of the Ton scheming to get what they want. In fact, almost everyone has something that they are hiding from the rest of the aristocrats. Unfortunately for the Ton, a new gossip named Lady Whistledown has just arrived on the scene and seems to have inside knowledge of all of their secrets.
Diversity on ‘Bridgerton’
Bridgerton has minorities in different levels of social standing. The queen, Lady Danbury, and Simon are all black, which sets the precident early on that the aristocracy in the Ton is not what viewers may be used to seeing.
In the fourth episode of the series, Lady Danbury and Simon have a conversation that addresses race.
“We were two separate societies divided by color until a king fell in love with one of us,” Danbury says. “Look at everything it is doing for us, allowing us to become.” She insists, “Love, Your Grace, conquers all.”
Not only the diverse casting, but the acknowledgment of race throughout the series, was very intentional. When Bridgerton showrunner Chris Van Dusen got a hold of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels, he wondered what it would be like to set the scene with the ruler Queen Charlotte, who has long been rumored to be interracial.
“It made me wonder what that could have looked like,” Van Dusen told The New York Times. “Could she have used her power to elevate other people of color in society? Could she have given them titles and lands and dukedoms?”
Nicola Coughlan calls out racists
All it took was one look at Twitter to see that Bridgerton had become a hit shortly after it was released. But this week, Netflix released data that the show had become the platform’s fifth-biggest original series.
Coughlan took to Twitter to use this information to bash some haters.
“You know the way some people were like ‘Diversity in period drama doesn’t work’….63 million households thought it did tho so,” she wrote.
She followed up with another tweet calling out everyone who tried to sabotage the show.
“Remember people were trying to downvote the show on IMDB cos it was so diverse?” she said. “You can’t downvote us being Netflix fifth biggest original release ever.”
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