Passions: Mind the [gender] gap

Two feminists on why they would and wouldn’t watch Bridgerton. Are you binge-watching it this weekend?
Does the show thrive on token feminism or is it an easy escape from everyday life?
Does the show thrive on token feminism or is it an easy escape from everyday life?
Updated on Mar 26, 2022 09:21 PM IST
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ByAuntora Mitra, Urvee ModwelAuntora Mitra, Urvee Modwel

“I would never waste my time on this pretentious show”

By Auntora Mitra

Auntora says any self-respecting feminist knows that patriarchy goes hand-in-hand with race, class, heteronormativity etc
Auntora says any self-respecting feminist knows that patriarchy goes hand-in-hand with race, class, heteronormativity etc

Whether it’s the statutory rape, the class conflict tokenism, or the “non-existent” race issues, Bridgerton never fails to set my inner feminist raging. This “utopian” show is set at in time and place where there seems to be no apparent structural divide between class, caste, and race—and no apparent consistency in timeline, either. For these reasons and many more, I as a feminist would never waste my time watching this pretentious show.

What boils my blood the most is the body-augmenting corsets all the female cast had to wear compulsorily, clearly overcompensating for their lack of 36-24-36. The toxic romanticisation of women’s issues in a world that otherwise lacks social divides—a problematic trope in its entirety—was not quite the feminist representation we were hoping for. What seems to be a perfect society, except for women’s lack of agency, is not consistent with the hierarchical strata that causes these issues. Any self-respecting feminist knows that patriarchy goes hand-in-hand with race, class, heteronormativity etc. The portrayal of this “ideal” is a failure caused by much more than bad writing. What were the hopes of these writers who, in the spirit of weak queer inclusivity, produced mindless nonsense? Worst of all, it was most disappointing to see Julie Andrews as the narrator.

Auntora Mitra is a queer feminist, mental health advocate, and activist-in-progress.

“I’m just a feminist looking for an escape”

By Urvee Modwel

Urve hopes that next time around the show and its writers will take a dainty stab at reevaluating its portrayals of race, gender, and consent
Urve hopes that next time around the show and its writers will take a dainty stab at reevaluating its portrayals of race, gender, and consent

I’ll be honest, I’ll watch anything. And a Jane Austen-reminiscent (apologies to my fellow Jane Austen lovers) period drama with over-the-top sets, extravagant costumes, easily-solvable problems, buckets of clichés and enough eye candy for any viewer is exactly the kind of escape I need at the end of a workday. Does that make me less of a feminist? I believe not. I’m just a feminist looking for an escape—I don’t watch the show and then head straight to the kitchen to make perfectly round rotis. I go right back to the real world.

I can’t deny that the show has its problematic moments, including its terribly inaccurate portrayals of women, but just for a few hours, as the earth continues to spin on its axis despite everything happening in the world right now, I step back and lose myself in something nonsensical, away from the pressure of uncountable responsibilities, news that is depressing and the stress of wondering how I’m going to pay my bills.

Will I watch the next season of Bridgerton? Definitely. I’m already invested. But I’m also hoping that next time around the show and its writers will take a dainty stab (with a frilly parasol, if nothing else) at reevaluating its portrayals of race, gender, and consent. Hand me that remote.

Urvee Modwel is a feminist, she promises, and a member of Team HT Brunch.

From HT Brunch, March 27, 2022

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022