“Bridgerton”: Positively anti-historical or just erasing history? 

Reading Time: 2 minutes “Bridgerton” has some major historical inaccuracies, but it is meant for a modern-day audience and casts people of color in roles they would not typically be invited to play.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Bridgerton” is an incredibly popular regency romance show on Netflix, with the 3rd season releasing in less than a month. The show is well known for its blatant disregard of actual historical events and fashions; for example, Queen Charlotte is shown in wigs that have rotating parts inside of them, something that was simply not possible nor in fashion at the time. Some people call “Bridgerton” “anti-historical” or “revisionist.” 

Does this new take on history erase colonization, Black narratives, and social class? The mixed-race casting is explained away in the first season by a random fictitious treaty that caused peace between races. Shortly after, viewers are introduced to the love interest for the first season, a Black man played by Regé-Jean Page. There is little focus on the potential issues that Black people faced during the Regency era. 

Similarly, in the second season, the main love interest is Indian, fluent in Hindi, and has an accent. She wears henna on her wedding day, as well as Indian-inspired Regency gowns, with shawls similar to sarees in a lot of her outfits. The colonization of India had long-lasting consequences, with lots of tension, wars, and some failed revolutions. Yet “Bridgerton,” like actual historical Britian, seemed to see it as an exotic and beautiful place, if not a bit crowded.  

The counterargument is that rather than being antihistorical, some believe those issues could have been or should be ignored or explained away to give people of color the opportunity to play parts that would otherwise always be played by white men and women. In other historical romances, especially those on television, the maids and manservants are sometimes people of color, or the narratives focus on the historical events of slavery and Black trauma. Regé-Jean Page told Entertainment Weekly he was excited to play a character that did not utilize those narratives to further the story. Instead, Page’s character, Simon, has an arc separate from his race, one focused on family expectations and the need for an heir in Regency England. 

Lady Danbury is another Black character, who raises Simon. She and her best friend, Lady Bridgerton are responsible for many romantic schemes to get couples together. It is incredibly refreshing to see a mixed-race female friendship on camera and had those historical inaccuracies or misrepresentations not happened, that beautiful friendship may not have been possible.  

“Bridgerton” has made it clear that they intend for this to be for a modern audience, with the colorful inaccurate dresses and pop-as-classical songs at the balls. Representing these positive stories and opening acting positions for people of color may be important, but is it worth the historical erasure? To quote Lady Whistledown, “Dearest gentle reader, that may be up to you to decide.”