Hello Gentle Readers,
When the world of Bridgerton graced our screens a few years ago, Daphne and the Duke were all anyone could talk about. Their passion, their chemistry, the storyline, his dreamy eyes, etc. Pop news sites went wild with articles trying to help you figure out which Bridgerton character you are, and Victorian style fashion popped up in clothing stores everywhere.
The ultra feminine, dainty, floral, cap sleeved look was all the rage for a while there.
And then we were gifted the story of Anthony and Kate. We got to see beautiful South Asian representation, and watch a new love story unfold. And yet again, the world went wild for the passion, the example of romance from the female gaze and the burst of color in the styling choices.
While I enjoyed both seasons of the show well enough, I couldn't help but feel that something was missing from each of them.
In season 1, I wasn't in love with the idea of Daphne essentially forcing the Duke to marry her and have children. Nor was I thrilled with the lack of Black representation in the female characters. I listed out all of my qualms with this season in a video posted to my YouTube channel a few years ago. And I didn't find season 2 riveting enough to make a video on at all. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I didn't buy Anthony and Kate's "chemistry" for one second. So I assumed my interest in the Bridgerton stories had vanished altogether.
In walks Queen Charlotte.
I wasn't even planning on watching this show because, again, season 2 was underwhelming for me. And I didn't feel like it got as much promotion as it's predecessors.
But curiosity finally got the best of me one day when I was tired of watching reruns of The Mindy Project, and I decided to put it on. And man am I glad I did.
This installment of the Bridgerton series gave me everything the others were lacking and so much more.
There is a level of depth to this series that I didn't feel before, and solid backstories for each of our main characters. Shonda Rhimes accurately depicts the complexities of love, life, and responsibility, that we don't see executed as much in the other installments of the show.
Let's start with our lead, Charlotte.
I am so glad to have gotten more information about Charlotte and her history in this season. The show opens with her older brother signing documents essentially selling her off to be married to the King of England, George.
Initially, Charlotte is not thrilled about this. But as soon as her brother explains that this is needed in order to protect their country and to form an alliance with the powerhouse, England, she agrees.
Charlotte's wit is one of the most endearing things about her character. She is incredibly quick tongued, she says whatever she thinks, and she does not apologize AT ALL for who she is.
This wit is something that we didn't see as much with the female leads in previous seasons.
While Kate also exuded the same strength and confidence as Charlotte, it felt as though her attitude was more from a place of guardedness and having a rough exterior. Whereas Charlotte's wit comes off simply intellectual.
We also see Charlotte's dedication to doing whatever she has to do in order to be a good queen. She knows her role and her duty, and she wants to fulfill it.
This season also did a beautiful job of transitioning back and forth between the past and the present.
In present day, The Queen is attempting to get just one of her 15 children to bear a child and continue the family line, without any luck.
Her kids are a bit spoiled, very unserious, and don't seem to understand why this is so important to her.
On the surface, Queen Charlotte appears cruel and insensitive to her children. But we learn that there's so much more to her than meets the eye.
Now, let's get to George. King George. Farmer George. Just George.
George's character is played incredibly well. He struggles with hearing voices inside his head, and experiences what I can only assume is modern day Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia. Getting so lost in his own head that he tries to push Charlotte away and keep her living in a separate house from him, in an effort to protect her.
The theme of the man trying to protect the woman by keeping her away from him is one we saw in Season 1 with Daphne and the Duke, but the stakes are so much higher here. This isn't not wanting to have children to spite your father. It's very real. It's very intense. And it's something Charlotte certainly did not know she was getting herself into.
As much as he tries to keep Charlotte at bay, she refuses to stay away. She refuses to let him push her away. And when she finds out that he's been exposing himself to gruesome torture tactics by the palace "doctor", she quickly jumps into full Queen mode to protect and save George.
What we see in her past and in the present, is that what she masks as having to do out of duty, is actually done out of deep, deep love.
Her desire to have "even days" and her desire for her children to have children, on the surface, looks like she is just doing a job. But in truth, she expresses her love for George in everything that she does.
While the other seasons gave us unrequited love, none had stakes quite this high. Sure, Anthony was meant to marry Kate's sister, and Daphne was just kind of a damsel in distress the whole time. But the chemistry here, between Charlotte and George was unlike anything we've seen in previous seasons. And I have an idea as to why.
Charlotte's love didn't come from wanting someone she couldn't have. Her love came from wanting to make what she did have, beautiful.
Some might say that Queen Charlotte's approach to love was unromantic. But I found her determination to create a beautiful marriage incredibly romantic.
It was a showcase of what love and marriage truly looks like. Dealing with someone else's mother who is judging your every move. Managing health and mental health together. Supporting each other, and standing with each other during the hardest of times.
I think this show exceeded expectations in several areas. Obviously set design, costume design, and the storyline were impeccable. But it was those little moments and attention to detail that gave us all goosebumps.
Like the shot of Brimsley dancing with the King's man in the past, blending into him dancing by himself in the present. (TEARS. REAL TEARS.)
Or the connection between Lady Danbury and Violet Bridgerton that I don't think any of us saw coming.
Speaking of Lady Danbury, let's get into the decadent storyline that is her life.
If you'll recall in the video I did years ago about season 1, I was very disappointed to not have been given any information about Lady Danbury. Her backstory, her love life, etc. We really got a whole lot of nothing.
Which is why I was absolutely thrilled to learn so much about her in this season.
She was promised to be married off at an incredibly young age, to a man who possessed his own wealth from Sierra Leone. I absolutely loved how they gave us an actual country to attach to this story, and not some made up country.
The man who she's married to is at least 40 years her senior. Not only is he old and unattractive, but he also treats her very poorly. He demeans her, he tells her to be quiet, and is constantly putting her in her place.
When she is invited to the Queen's court, he is furious that she is included in royal activities and he isn't. Since it's his money that has gotten them to where they are in society.
But Lady Danbury isn't dumb. In fact, she's incredibly smart and knows how to get what she wants from the Queen. She knows how to negotiate and fight fire with fire.
Even though it is clear the she doesn't love her husband, she still goes to bat for him in front of the King's mother, and fights for him to be included in activities with the other members at Court.
He is clearly being left out because of racism, and she wisely uses the King's mother's need for information as a way to secure her place in England's high society.
Lady Danbury's smarts and determination to be seen as an equal bode well for her in the future, as we see she goes on to be a close friend of the Queen and one of the most respected women at court.
I loved this season of the show, because we got to see women of color being desired and being loved, but also using their intelligence to accomplish whatever they want.
We also got to see a beautiful depiction of love and what it can look like to be in relationship with someone who struggles with mental illness.
But most importantly, we got to see a love that grows.
While the storylines of seasons 1 and 2 are a wonderful fantasy, and can provide somewhat of an escape into a different reality. Queen Charlotte shows us that true love is very far from perfect. Because life is far from perfect.
But even with all of the imperfections of life, love can still conquer all.