Escapism in Media: Bridgerton

by Anushka Mangal


Watching TV shows and listening to music has always been somewhat of a therapeutic exercise for me. When I’m burdened by the anxieties of everyday life, I turn on my favorite show and transcend into a headspace where all I care about is the fate of fictional characters. It’s a form of escapism—actively disengaging from the realities of one’s life. I love being a part of another world and feeling happy, especially when I feel decidedly unhappy in my real life.


“Bridgerton” is my go-to show when I want to feel transported. Seriously, I think I have rewatched the second season at least 8 times.


Based on the books by Julia Quinn, the “Bridgerton” series follows the life of the Bridgertons, a powerful, elite London family, during 18th century England. It tells of the trials and tribulations of the Bridgeton siblings as they navigate the social bounds of the Regency era and find love and happiness. The show is a historical drama—a genre that often is subject to criticism due to historical inaccuracies. “Bridgerton,” for example, shows English society as one that is not separated by color. In the first season, Lady Danbury explains that the marriage of King Goerge to Queen Charlotte, a black woman, ceased the treatment of black people as inferior. This is definitely oversimplified and historically inaccurate—but is it really something we should criticize?


The portrayal of people of color as equals in the “Bridgerton” world can serve as escapism for viewers who are people of color. It can be exhausting to always see characters of color being subject to discrimination. While shows that depict those realities are important to watch, sometimes you just want to watch a light show where the characters look like you and are an equal part of the world being depicted. Furthermore, creating a world with racial equality allows shows to have a more diverse cast and give actors of color a chance to shine on the screen.


The second season of “Bridgerton” follows the eldest Bridgerton, Anthony. He, unwillingly, falls in love with Kate Sharma, a woman traveling from India in order to help her sister find a husband, (her sister and Anthony are actually engaged for a while…). As an Indian woman, I never thought I would see a show about Regency-era England in which the main character looked like me. I never thought I would see someone who looks like me wear those signature empire-waisted English gowns, go to tea parties, and be treated with respect and admiration by English high society. The race of the Sharma sisters was never a factor by which people judged them and they were treated the same as all the other characters. The show even included subtle Indian allusions throughout the show—a Hindi song instrumental in the soundtrack, Kate drinking Indian tea, the Sharmas wearing Indian jewelry, them partaking in Indian wedding traditions, etc—which made my heart melt.


Representation in media matters. It makes viewers of tv shows feel seen and appreciated. “Bridgeton” did that for me with its second season. If you haven’t already seen it, go watch the show. You won’t regret it. It’s enemies to lovers, pining looks, and forbidden touches done in a way that will make it impossible for you to stop watching.