Mark it down in your diaries. At the end of this month, Lady Whistledown will pick up her quill once again, and return to our screen with season two of Bridgerton.
ast year, viewers couldn’t get enough of the candy colored costumes, sex scenes in delightful Georgian era follies, and Regé-Jean Page’s brooding stares.
It was streamed 82 million times in the first four weeks and it was Netflix’s most successful series until the gorefest that is Squid Game came along.
All of this begs the question: why do we, and women in particular, have such a crush on regency romances? It is a pretty niche era to become romantically entangled with — given that the landed gentry constituted less than 1pc of the total population of England at the time.
Obviously, Jane Austen was a helluva writer. Fast forward 200 years, and it remains crystalized in our collective minds as the swoon-iest of times — filled with letter writing, secret meetings, horse riding, and sex.
We tend to forget the less appealing bits; such as wretched poverty, rigid class systems, and gout. Not to mention rampant syphilis.
This month in the US, new dating show The Courtship aired. It sells itself as’The Bachelorette by way of Bridgerton†
All the men must dress like Mr Darcy — in cravats and embroidered waistcoats. On their dates, they must try to woo a single woman while performing the Sussex Waltz, demonstrating their expertise in genteel lawn sports such as croquet, or practicing calligraphy. Skill sets I cannot imagine they will find hugely helpful once the show wraps.
“Calligraphy was definitely different from sending a ‘What are you doing?’ text at 2am after a night at the club,” one of the contestants remarked. How gallant of him!
Clearly, this era has power. The producers of Bridgerton are aware of this, and are already upping the ante for season two saying viewers can expect lots of ‘forbidden, super-sexy passion’.
As if to prove this, last week they released a picture of the Viscount of Bridgerton emerging from a lake wearing a see through shirt. A nod to Colin Firth in the BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice†
Sodden shirts to one side, there are plenty of reasons the fantasy of Bridgerton and a regency-style boyfriend can seduce viewers.
First of all, most Regency Boyfriends (Mr Rochester, Mr Ferrars, Mr Darcy, Duke of Hastings) tend to be very polite altogether. Even when they are being moody and rude, they are still ridiculously polite.
These men will never cat call you ‘for a laugh’. Oh no, they have manners. As most women know, this sort of respect can be a little light on the ground, so we value it highly. Plus, if gals are disrespected there tend to be repercussions — like a deadly duel (fun!).
Nowadays the aspirations of the female regency protagonists may seem limited; get married, have kids, become a dab hand at backgammon, and buy a new embroidery hoop. Despite this, all these women wield a degree of power. This power may be because their family is minted and they don’t have to settle for some cad, or they are stunningly beautiful, and don’t have to settle for some cad. Or they write a salacious newsletter and don’t have to settle for a cad. Whatever the reason, they have power, and we like that.
All of the couples have dazzling amounts of sexual chemistry. This is heightened by making them do silly things, like sit in small ornate chairs and talk about the weather before they confess their love. This is entertaining to watch (and is essentially the premise of First Dates†
But for me the most appealing aspect of the show is time. Everything moves so slowly — as if wading through molasses. Characters seem to spend days doing nothing but crocheting, eating neat little piles of cakes, and wandering around walled gardens talking about a hand fan they saw in a shop window six months ago.
Life doesn’t move like that anymore; time seems to be perpetually stuck in hyper drive and hurtling forward.
All the women live in a bubble. A bubble where they do nothing but gossip, talk about parties, fall in love and have amazing sex with extremely handsome men in a variety of historically listed buildings. And then they have the time to do all of that, all over again.
Given that, it may not be so surprising we keep returning to them, after all.
Who will play the Material Girl?
The search for Madonna continues. Queen of Pop, Madonna, has written an autobiographical film that is due to go into production later this year.
The big question is of course; who will play the material girl? The casting of the film has been dubbed ‘Madonna Bootcamp’ with actresses being auditioned for 11 hours straight.
These include choreography sessions with Madonna’s choreographer, choreography sessions with Madonna, readings with Madonna, as well as singing auditions. Why doesn’t Madge just save herself time and hassle and cast herself?
Snack attack on ghosters…
A new dating app Snack, described as ‘Tinder meets TikTok’ for Gen Z, has received attention for its anti-ghosting technology (they missed a trick not calling it Ghost-busting technology).
It works by “deprioritizing” profiles belonging to users with a poor track record. “Singles get reported when they ghost too frequently, so the more you ghost, the less your profile gets seen,” Snack explains. according to the spectatorSnack also enables its users to leave users reviews.
Relationship coaches all seem to agree that ghosting is the worst; it is humiliating and disempowering for the ghost-ee. It’s much better to bite the bullet and tell someone if you don’t click with them.
I get all that. But it still makes me uneasy that a dating app is running a star chart for users, and getting former matches to leave reviews.
It implies ghosting is always driven by malice, or some sort of sociopathic indifference. But sometimes it’s not about that. Sometimes, the ghoster may be going through their own issues. Or perhaps they legitimately forgot to formally close out the relationship.
I’m not excusing this behavior but there are explanations. And encouraging people to rank each other does not seem the best way forward.