Friday, December 25, 2020

REVIEW: 'Bridgerton' - Daphne and Simon Must Face the Reality of What Their Relationship Has Become in 'Art of the Swoon'

Netflix's Bridgerton - Episode 1.03 "Art of the Swoon"

After Daphne catches the eye of a royal suitor, she turns to Simon for relationship advice. Lady Featherington tries to browbeat Marina into marriage.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Bridgerton.

"Art of the Swoon" was written by Leila Cohan-Miccio and directed by Tom Verica

Daphne and Simon are proud of their ability to deceive Lady Whistledown with their romance. And yet, they appear to be forming a genuine friendship. They have easy banter and a trust that they are both attracted to deeply. Lady Bridgerton even says that friendship should serve as the foundation for marriage. That's the insight she passes down to her children in the hopes of finding their perfect match. Things seem much more genuine and real between Daphne and Simon as well. Their bond has meaning to it beyond the attractive suitors just trying to land the diamond of the season. However, they are both starting to see the cracks in this arrangement. It extends from the idea that they may actually want to pursue romance with each other. Daphne has not yet challenged the version of the world her parents passed along to her. As such, she can be naive and privileged in several situations. Not everyone is afforded that same luxury. Daphne tends to get whatever she wants no matter what. Everyone is left guessing as to what her next move will be. She is the driver of this story. She gets to decide what she wants. She isn't a prize to be won. But it's still fundamentally about the courtship between Daphne and Simon. Their reactions to each other inform the story. Simon suddenly growing cold to her and wanting to break things off now is more devastating than any other experience she has had in her life. He has already opened the world to her. So many people are trying their best to protect her innocence and virtue. They want her to present as a desirable young lady ready for marriage and the responsibilities of being a woman. They also want to silence any conversation about sexual pleasure and power. Simon is eventually forthright with her. Meanwhile, that's positioned as an unseemly conversation elsewhere. The show itself is perfectly fine with being sexual. That is a part of romance as well. It provides Daphne with a newfound sense of confidence and discovery. She is still learning about the world. Meanwhile, several characters are dealing with the consequences of sex. Anthony is fine constantly teasing Siena along. He has betrayed her several times already and figures that she will always return to him because of his position in society. He views her actions as a direct response to him and trying to get him to react in a certain way. She has her own agency though. She too is trying her best to secure a better life for herself. Elsewhere, Marina wants to believe in the love she shares with George. He will return from the Spanish battlefield ready to marry her and raise their children. That's the future she loves and embraces. Lady Featherington doubts the sincerity of this bond. She meddles even though she knows absolutely nothing about them. She forges a letter in order to get Marina to comply with her will. That too may create explosive consequences down the line. One that could invite scandal to this family. But again, it highlights the dangers of treating elements of life as scandalous when it's truly about personal freedom and choice. Each young woman is expected to serve as a wife and mother. They are capable of so much more. Eloise wants that in her life. She doesn't want this marriage market to be the only thing of value she can look forward to. And yet, that may be the only luxury afforded to her because she was born a woman. She is envious of her brother because he doesn't appreciated the opportunities given to him because of his gender. All of this makes it important and necessary for people to communicate with one another and actually uplift the dreams of those they care about. Daphne needs her sister to see things from her perspective from time to time. She is more than just willingly belittling herself in order to conform to society's demands. She genuinely wants love as well. That fills her with desire. She cares about Simon at the moment. He cares about her as well. But he has yet to truly reckon with what those feelings may mean for the pledge he made to his father. He pushes her away because that cruelty has left a lasting impact. And yet, the narrative still frames the story about how Simon reacts once Daphne dances with the prince. It could be the height of attention for Daphne as she seems to walk away with the top prize in terms of marriage possibilities. But personal relationships can't be reduced down to such simplistic views of the world. That makes all of this incredibly silly. It's a little hollow as well because the narrative is still finding depth while going through the pageantry of it all. Simon knows he can't continue the facade. It now seems counterproductive to what they wanted when they made this pact. He's still in town though to respond to every choice Daphne makes afterwards. He still attends the events he had little interest in otherwise. That may invite more vulnerability and intimacy. And yet, that is also a promise for the future instead of something the narrative is capable of delivering at this particular moment.