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Please, not Bridgerton again

  • 17 May 2024
  ‘Quick, get her the chocolate! She’s seen that effing Bridgerton 3 trailer on YouTube.’ ‘NOOO! I told you to keep Binge going on the telly so she would keep watching Mr Inbetween.’ ‘She finished it last night. You know what she’s like when she likes something. It’s almost worse than when she hates something. I did try to head her off ... I even offered to watch Antiques Roadshow with her.’ ‘Damn. It’s going to be like that time she had to watch an ep of Married At First Sight. I’m off to the pub. Hide the kitchen knives.’

My loved ones don’t like it when I rant about something I loathe. They shield me from the worst of my own characteristic response to the current nervous breakdown of learning and civilisation.

But what can you say when faced by Bridgerton – that posing, poncing, irony-defying travesty of all history, literature and human relationships? I can’t stop the bastards making it and praising themselves for their tearing down of all that was good about Jane Austen. I can’t stop them showing it to people who should be watching Mr InBetween or Shogun. But I can tell you why I think it sucks.

However, I first need to apologise to Gwyneth Paltrow for ripping her a new one for murdering Emma, because at least her 1996 film gave the story a clean death, not unlike when hitman Ray Shoesmith fulfils a contract in Mr Inbetween. (Unless it’s a child sex-trafficker, in which case he is the axe-wielding god of retributive wrath. OK by me.) No, to get back to Gwyneth, she refrained from equipping Jane Austen’s immortal flawed heroine with Goop sex toys and weird-smelling candles. The only anachronistic solecisms she committed involved letting Emma gad around town in daytime in a yellow ball gown and no hat as no women did outdoors in those days; and when the original novel had taken considerable pains to tell us that Emma always wore white.

Bridgerton’s creators by contrast have gone beyond anachronism to an extreme that displays the same attitude to art and history as a tagger who marks his territory over other people’s wall art, pretty much as a dog lifts its leg on a gate post. (There are quite a few decent murals around town, but many of them are chronically defaced by talentless hoons with spray-cans. Jealousy, perhaps.)

Why do people want historical romances anyway? There are good ones, after all.