By Diana Kesablyan
Netflix’s original show “Bridgerton” is back with season two and already has fans going wild. Streaming over 190 million hours in only the premier weekend, it is evident that the show’s popularity has not waivered with the nearly two year long period between the first and second seasons.
While “Bridgerton” is historical fiction that takes place in 1800’s London, the accuracy of that history isn’t a top priority for creator Chris Van Dusen. While most audiences watch “Bridgerton” for its scandalous and fiery romances and period fashion, one of the key components of the show is its unique social structure.
Though class is very much present in the show and critiqued in season two, the showrunners have taken a “colorblind” approach to casting. Set in the early 19th century, the Netflix drama completely reimagines the Regency Period to be one of diversity where Queen Charlotte and several of the Ton are African American. Season two saw even more diversity with Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran playing Indian sisters visiting London to take part in the season.
This rather progressive view of “historical” drama may not be accurate, however, it allows audiences to see a society lacking the constraints of race. While the show may not make great feminist overtures, it does offer a vision of the past as it should have been, free of racism.
The elimination of racial issues within the story may arguably be additional grounds for criticism, as some may argue that it takes away from the seriousness of the show. However, it is quite safe to say that historic accuracy is not a major priority for the creators of “Bridgerton,” and it is mostly a feel-good romance.
Season one received criticism not utilizing the characters of color fully, rather using them as decoration.
“Bridgerton arguably never really develops most of its Black characters, and certainly rarely bestows joy on most of them. Most of the characters of color in Bridgerton’s main ensemble suffer from a lack of both interiority and context outside of their relationships to white characters,” Vox journalist Aja Romano said.
In season two, however, we are introduced to a new set of characters who are of a Southeast Asian background. The older sister, Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) is both fierce and independent. Her storyline is both the main focus and complex. Clearly, the showrunners learned from season one and have included more roles of comprehensive development for characters of color.
“Bridgerton” attempts to create a world free of racism and racial prejudice while also indulging audiences in fantastic fashion. In this world, race is not an issue of inequality. Rather, we shift our focus to misogyny, and the roles of women in society.
“I really love how the cast and story is so racially diverse. It’s probably one of my favorite things about the show. The thing I don’t really like, however, is how girls are all supposed to follow a certain set of rules. Also, I don’t like how they make it look like every girl (except for Eliza) is obsessed with gossip,” senior Artush Gharibian said.