Shondaland’s Bridgerton: The Black History You Don’t Learn at School

Not wanting to get sucked into the recency bias that comes with new dramas, I waited three weeks to watch Bridgerton.

Simon Bassett (Regé Jean-Page) and Phoebe Dynevor’s Daphne (Bridgerton, Netflix)
Chrystal Clarke plays Georgiana Lambe (Sanditon, ITV/PBS)

Remember these were the same years that Britain was the biggest slave-trading power in the world. In the 19th century a man called Bill Richmond, formerly enslaved, became Britain’s first Black British sportstar, and by proxy an emodiment of the ‘national character’… a national hero

Boxing was viewed as an embodiment of the British national characteristics, including ‘manliness’ and ‘strength’ (Bill Richmond, 1810, Credit: Unknown)
Black puglists have a British history where Black men like Bill Richmond embodied the national character, albeit in 2020 the constructs tied to Black men and violence cannot be ignored (Bridgerton, Netflix)

If they wanted to push this ‘fantasy’ to the wire, it might have been interesting to have Black characters not filling storytelling and media tropes and stereotypes, incluing Marina Thompson essentially playing the Black bestfriend!

Queen Charlotte is played by Golda Rosheuvel (Bridgerton, Netflix)

Season 1 includes a glossed over marital rape, and colourism. Do better. However, despite the fantasy as well, Netflix plant enough seeds in our minds to show us some Black British history to research for ourselves in our own lives and that’s quite exciting.

References

Writer-Poet | Muses: Black and Mixed-Race histories, inequality, identity, arts et al| Race and Black History Educator | treventour.com | MA Student |

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