Surprising conversations about sex the new Bridgerton season forced us to have

By Aliya Zuberi

KARACHI: Bridgerton is one of Netflix’s most popular series spanning across two seasons and one spin off. Known for its raunchy sex scenes and undeniable chemistry between the lead actors, it isn’t a show one would expect to open conversations about serious topics. But that is exactly what the new Bridgerton season based on Queen Charlotte does. More surprisingly, it opens up conversations about sex that, for some odd reason, are a taboo. In case you haven’t watched the season just yet, be warned that there are spoilers up ahead.

The new Bridgerton season is loosely based on the true story of Queen Charlotte and King George. It depicts a beautiful love story between the royal pair which is riddled with mental health issues. But that’s not the only plot. Fans from the previous Bridgerton series are given a back story to two prominent characters, Lady Danbury and Lady Bridgerton. Through the three women, Shonda Rhimes gets the conversation going about consensual sex, desires at an older age and how love can also entrap a woman into a lonely existence.

We are introduced to Lady Agatha Danbury, as a young woman who is married to a man almost thrice her age. She explains further on in the season that she was promised to her husband at the age of three and since then, she was molded to fit what her husband wanted in a wife. And that translated into their sex life. The scenes were difficult to watch, to say the least. As her husband hammers on, his wife lays beneath him unmoving and unhappy. But Lord Danbury is only interested in his own pleasure. After he’s done, Lady Danbury scrubs herself raw to cleanse her off her husband. What makes the scenes so uncomfortable to watch is that to this date, for many women, sex is exactly as it is shown in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. Men hardly focus on the needs of their wives, only invested in their own pleasure. Countless married women claim that they never experienced an orgasm and countless women are left desiring more which leaves them unhappy in their marriages. But just like in the show, we don't talk about those things in real life.

Even more alarming is the fact that sex between the husband and wife hardly seems consensual. Lord Danbury, when either angry or elated, would show up without warning and would take his emotions out in sex. No care if his wife is ready or not, he would do what he wanted. While it isn’t explicitly stated that he forces himself on her, one can easily read between the lines. While Lady Danbury does experience sexual pleasure after the death of her husband, that is a far fetched concept for many.

Lady Bridgerton’s backstory isn’t as important to the conversation than her present story is. She was happily married, comfortable in her life and then tragedy struck. After losing her husband at a young age, she focused her attention on getting her children married and settled. And in doing so, she left herself and her desires take a backseat. But when she was facing a bout of empty nest syndrome, she realized she couldn’t ignore her desires any longer. As much as she wanted to believe that that part of her died when her husband did, Violet realizes that is far from the truth. As she explains to Lady Danbury, her “garden is in bloom” once again and it was getting out of hand. And she is extremely embarrassed. But why should she be? Women, even after their thirties can and do have sexual desires. They can and do crave companionship and intimacy. Seeking out a partner won’t make her disloyal to her late husband, it will only mean putting herself first, as explained by Lady Danbury. But for many women, getting married again at a later age is often ridiculed and women are often mocked for wanting sexual intimacy and is often discouraged.

But the show also shows the downside of being trapped in a love that one cannot get out of. In Bridgerton, we see a beautiful love story between Queen Charlotte and King George. The two were married when they were 17 and 22 and stayed married for 57 years. While it began as a beautiful union, their marriage suffered after the King’s mental illness took over. He lived till he was 81 and the Queen remained married to him till his death. One can only imagine just how trapped the Queen must have felt, stuck in a limbo, unable to voice her desires and unable to move on in life. To date, women suffer the same fate. Women are stuck in unhappy marriages, told to endure what comes their way. As a result, they focus their attention elsewhere, but just as her children were unhappy, the focus of their attention also wants relief.

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Three different women but three every important stories to tell. Surprisingly, the lessons of life that we must learn come from shows likes Bridgerton and stories like Queen Charlotte’s. Despite the fact these stories are of the yesteryears, they tell the tales of women today. Which says enough of just how cruel the world is for women.

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