- Ava Jane Josef
How Shonda Rhimes’ Bridgerton is receiving praise and criticism for its multiracial cast
Hi, everyone! In this article, I will be addressing both the applauding and condemning of the casting in Netflix’s “Bridgerton”. First off, I want to say I LOVED this show! The acting and storyline were amazing, and I watched it all in two days. This article’s purpose is not to critique actors’ talent or rate the show.
Image via Netflix
For some background, “Bridgerton” is described as such: “The eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family look for love and happiness in London high society” (Netflix). It is dramatic and full of romance and secrets. The producer, Shonda Rhimes, is known for having many interracial romances and diverse casts in her other popular shows “Scandal”, “How To Get Away With Murder”, and “Grey’s Anatomy” (ps. if you read the last article, all of these shows were featured for being empowering for women!). According to New York Times, “Bridgerton” is not the first show made by ShondaLand in the British period with a multiracial cast; she produced Still Star-Crossed, but it was discontinued after the first season. “Bridgerton” is the first show I personally have seen in this time period with a truly diverse cast, and it is receiving praise for its POC representation. Many people of color are cast not only as royalty and in other main roles but also in the background as extras. The cast breaks the assumption that dramas taking place in the Regency era should have an only white cast, especially since the books (that the series is based on) imply all characters are white. Many shows similar to “Bridgerton”, taking place in the Regency era, lack a diverse cast in effort to maintain historical accuracy, but “Bridgerton” gives many talented POC actors the opportunities to play roles during this period (which honestly seems so fun! Look at the set, costumes, dialogue, etc), when usually they are cast in roles like servants. Many people are saying this show has one of the most diverse casts they have seen.
However, “Bridgerton” is facing some criticism for its escapism and colorism in its casting. Again, these criticisms are not directed at the talent of the actors but at the claim that color, race, and diversity are a large part of the show. There are also many criticisms that the series is guilty of race-baiting (claiming to solve racial issues but not following through). The producers claim color and race are a part of the show but fail to truly incorporate it. This claim leaves many people expecting involvement of race in “Bridgerton’s” storyline. However, the only time race is mentioned is in episode 4, where Simon is told that the society was divided by race until the king fell in love with Queen Charlotte. Many POC feel taken advantage of by the big claim but little mention. According to Costuming Drama , characters with lighter skin are usually the ones with main roles and happy endings, whereas characters with darker skin are in the background or in more servant roles. The desirable characters (Simon and Marina) are also light skinned, whereas the more violent and cruel characters (The Duke) have darker skin. In conclusion, “Bridgerton” is a huge step in the right direction for POC getting representation in these kinds of shows, but I hope to see improvement in the topics mentioned above in the next seasons.
‘Bridgerton’ Takes On Race. But Its Core Is Escapism.
Why Bridgerton is Problematic || Colorism, Race Baiting and Implicit Bias