Netflix’s Bridgertons Has A Problem With Gay Relationships?

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BRIDGERTON (L to R) PHOEBE DYNEVOR as DAPHNE BRIDGERTON and REGÉ-JEAN PAGE as SIMON BASSET in episode 101 of BRIDGERTON Cr. LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX © 2020

There is not enough! ‘The Bridgertons’ has a masturbation scene that leaves ‘Outlander’ at the height of the shoe polish.

Now that the first season of ‘ The Bridgertons ‘ has been released, the doors of Shondaland are swinging wide on Netflix, bringing the vision of Shonda Rhimes to life in all its decadent glory.

Based on Julia Quinn’s ‘bestsellers’, ‘The Bridgertons’ reimagines England’s Regency era as a much more inclusive one, a society where racial divisions no longer exist. Unfortunately, people are still separated by class, and that’s not the only prejudice left in this world of corsets and scandals.

As the season progresses, it is suggested that Benedict Bridgerton, of the famous Bridgerton family, might not be entirely straight. His interest in exploring unconventional sex leads him to an “alternative” party where those who feel they do not belong to traditional society can explore their desires free from moral limitations.

Of course, being a Shondaland series, the debauchery is still quite tame, but it is in this scene that we witness the only ‘queer’ moment of intimacy in all of history.

While strolling through the party, Benedict stumbles upon a room where two half-naked men merge into a passionate embrace. Benedict quickly closes the door, but not out of disgust. Instead, he chooses to give men his privacy, implying that the image didn’t bother him in the same way that it might have affected others at the time. Benedict then joins in on the fun too, starting a threesome with two women.

Although the series progresses rapidly from this encounter, there is clearly some sexual tension between Benedict and the host of the party. However, no reference to ‘queer’ is made again until near the end, when Bridgerton’s new friend speaks openly about his desire for men and why it is vital that he hide it within a fake marriage.

This is the kind of poignant ‘queer’ moment that Shonda Rhimes fans would expect from a show named after her. In the past, other Shondaland series such as ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Scandal’ and ‘How to Get Rid of a Killer’ have boosted LGBTQ + representation, providing ‘queer’ audiences with the love stories they always craved on mainstream television.

With this pedigree, fans were understandably excited for ‘The Bridgertons’ as well. Also, when they saw that the first trailer released in October featured a gay sex scene, a large number of LGBTQ + publications highlighted the moment , assuming that ‘The Bridgertons’ would be as ‘queer’ as other Shonda Rhimes series. ‘Attitude’, ‘Pride’ and ‘Out’ were just some of the media that praised what they assumed would be a very inclusive story.

What they couldn’t know is that this would be the only non-normative sex scene to occur throughout the entire season.

Now, it could be argued that it is still a step forward. After all, Quinn’s novels didn’t include any same-sex romance until the final book, ‘On the Way to the Wedding,’ which follows the younger Bridgerton. Simply put, Gregory falls in love with his best friend, Lady Lucinda ‘Lucy’ Abernathy, but she is engaged to Lord Haselby, who secretly harbors romantic feelings for men.

By incorporating ‘queer’ themes into the Netflix adaptation early on, this version of ‘The Bridgertons’ has already surpassed the book when it comes to LGBTQ + inclusion. It’s an extremely low level, to begin with, though, and, in a series where sex scenes take center stage, it would have been easy to include more diversity on that front.

After all, in the episode that follows the only gay sex scene from ‘The Bridgertons’, Daphne and Simon spend half their time at home fornicating during their honeymoon. While that particular love feast sets an important arc for both of them, the series as a whole is hornier than all the other Shonda Rhimes series put together, but only when it comes to straight characters.

Some may argue that this is due to the era in which ‘The Bridgertons’ is set. People with non-normative sexual orientations still don’t get the same treatment in 2020, so it’s understandable that they were mostly in hiding around 1820.

However, that is not entirely true. Sexuality is something much more complicated, and so is the way society perceives it. Denying the existence of ‘queer’ people in centuries past, or assuming that they were all homophobic, is inaccurate, plus it provides a very useful excuse for those who wish to erase LGBTQ + themes from historical fiction.

Many scholars continue to insist that famous historical figures who were particularly close to people of the same sex were simply “very close friends” or “confidants,” and without a time machine, it can be difficult to refute these often biased assumptions.

At the very least, historical fiction can begin to amend this erasure by prioritizing LGBTQ + characters and stories. Series like ‘Black Sails’, ‘Harlots: Courtesans’ and ‘Gentleman Jack’ have tried to do this (with varying levels of success), so it seems strange that ‘The Bridgertons’ don’t do the same, since it already revolves around a version of history itself.

Not only does ‘The Bridgertons’ fail to do so, but by including a ‘queer’ sex scene in the first trailer, it could be argued that the Netflix adaptation is also guilty of misrepresenting viewers who then expected it to. the series delivered on this promise with more meaningful LGBTQ + stories.

The first season of ‘The Bridgertons’ commendably breaks down the barriers between race and aristocracy, in a wonderfully ‘sex-positive’ way, but for now, the doors to Shondaland remain fairly closed for ‘queer’ characters. Let’s hope the second season progresses to a point where LGBTQ + inclusion is no longer a cause for scandal. Lady Whistledown already has plenty of material on other matters.

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