Everything I Hated About Bridgerton
It is a truth universally acknowledged that two people should not enter into a fake relationship with each other unless they wish to fall madly in love. It was true for Lara Jean, and it is true for Daphne Bridgerton, our incomparable young heroine.
Beware, readers, for there are spoilers ahead.
If you haven’t yet heard about Bridgerton, first of all… where have you been? Second, you probably aren’t hanging out with the same sort of people as me. That’s cool. But, I heard about this Regency Era romance drama with lots of sex scenes, all narrated Gossip Girl style by an anonymous “Lady Whistledown.” Let’s just say… I was in. Ready to enjoy.
Except, I didn’t.
I tried to, I really did.
(Full disclosure, I haven’t read the books, probably won’t)
It was just so melodramatic. “But Sarah,” you might be saying, “It’s Regency romance, of course it’s melodramatic!” And I get that, I do. I know to expect melodrama from Regency romance, but this felt like melodrama poorly delivered. The lines themselves were already cheesy enough, they didn’t need the added gasps and high-pitched sighs or grumbling male voices. The delivery was just off. Not way off like when you’re watching something that’s supposed to be purposefully bad, but the way off when something is really trying in earnest to take themselves seriously, but it’s just not hitting the mark.
Honestly though, I could have forgiven the melodrama, if it weren’t for the utterly flippant treatment of a sexual assault that occurred at the end of episode 6.
This is where the hot mess of corny deliveries and gasping ladies lost me.
So Daphne Bridgerton, our heroine (though I wouldn’t call her one by any means), in an attempt to secure a good husband, pretends to be attached to one Simon, the Duke of Hastings. Of course, as always happens, the two actually do fall in love, but little does sweet Daphne know, Simon has sworn never to marry or have children, because his own father was a neglectful, abusive ass.
Dude needs some therapy, seriously. At least he’s hot.
Anyway, she gets her virtue compromised, as one does, and so the two are forced to marry. Insert overly dramatic episode of both of them feeling as if they’ve trapped the other and are unloved and alone in the marriage. Of course, they soon both discover that they burn for each other. Yes, burn. Exact words, straight from the script. I told you the writing was cheesy enough without the added theatrics.
So what does crafty Simon do? He lies to his new bride, tells her he is unable to have children, and then starts making sure he ejaculates outside of her (this is not a reliable form of birth control, FYI), trusting that she is so unaware of the real mechanisms of baby-making that she will think this is normal. (She is that naïve, by the way, but hey… Regency!).
Daphne does some research, figures out Simon’s deception so what does she do?
Rapes him, naturally!
Now, if you’re still here, and you don’t think men can be raped, you can just leave. I don’t want to hear it. Because they can and it happened, right here, in this very show!
Let’s take it step by step.
1) Daphne and Simon start getting hot and heavy, seems consensual, because at this point it is.
2) Daphne rolls on top of Simon, and proceeds to “take charge”
3) Now, remember, Simon has made a choice to always ejaculate outside of her body so as to avoid risking impregnating his wife. Shady as hell, but he’s not technically harming her with this choice. He’s controlling his own body, his own sexuality and reproductive choices are his.
4) Anyway… Daphne pins him down (never mind that she looks like she weighs about 80 lbs and Simon is rippling with muscles… let’s just pretend he “can’t” move her).
5) He says “Wait, Daphne.” Clearly intending NOT to complete the act with her.
6) She ignores his request to stop and continues fornicating until…
7) He unwillingly ejaculates.
That, my friends… is rape. Don’t believe me? Switch the roles. Guy climbs on top of girl, proceeds to have consensual sex, pins her down so she can’t move him, ignores her request to stop. We wouldn’t even be debating. Because it’s rape. It’s rape. It’s rape. It’s rape.
So, naturally Daphne’s character gets dragged through the mud, she reaps what she sows in the form of severe punishments for her terrible actions, right?
No, she spends the next two episodes pouting because he is mistreating her so badly, digging through his secret letters to figure out what's wrong with him, and ultimately convincing him to change his entire resolve not to have children with her.
It’s the complete opposite of punishing a rapist. She gets exactly what she wants, a baby through emotional manipulation and crossing boundaries.
But, you may be thinking, Simon was wrong to lie to her. Sure, it’s wrong to lie about wanting kids to your spouse. You know what you do when you find out your spouse has lied about something like this?
You talk to them about it. You ask them why. You try to figure out the root causes of their discomfort, and you come to a compromise or decision based on that information.
You don’t rape them.
The kicker though? Directly after Daphne rapes Simon, she scurries across the room and tells him that “that’s not love” in a whole accusatory tone.
No, Daphne. It’s not love. You don’t rape someone you love.
That said, I just want it known, that I knew who the mysterious Lady Whistledown was the entire time.