How accurate is the sex in Bridgerton season three? Historians react

Dear readers, a new season of Bridgerton finally hit streaming platforms, and viewers once again found themselves yearning for a Regency-era romance.

The first four episodes of Bridgerton The third season debuted on Netflix on May 16, with new budding love interests at the center of the drama: Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton).

This season, Penelope, the anonymous author (spoiler alert) behind the show's gossip pamphlet, Lady Whistledown, intends to find a husband so she can live her life freely and away from the confines of her often mortifying Featherington family. Colin, fresh from his big tour of Europe, offers to play the role of “marriage whisperer” for his old friend giving her lessons about love.

However, their innocent efforts take an unexpected turn once Colin begins to discover that his feelings for Penelope (who has always had a secret crush on the third eldest Bridgerton) are more than platonic.

While fans eagerly awaited the arrival of Bridgerton In season three, much of the excitement revolved around the inevitable sex scenes that would be depicted in the Shonda Rhimes-directed period piece. In 2020, when Bridgerton Debuting on Netflix during a famine lockdown, the show instantly became a huge hit for its steamy scenes between the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page) and Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor). While the show's second season contained considerably fewer sex scenes, the palpable tension between Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) and Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) sent viewers to levels of longing like never before.

Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) are the central romance in the third season of 'Bridgerton' (Netflix)

Unfortunately, fans must wait until the second installment of the third season if they want to see more of Bridgerton Distinctive sex scenes. While the first four episodes contained a brief moment of oral sex between newlyweds Kate and Anthony, and a horse-drawn carriage between Penelope and Colin, the third season was comparatively deficient in copulation.

But perhaps that's what makes the third season more historically accurate than the previous seasons. While the series takes place during the Regency Era in England, a period of change and development that lasted from 1811 to 1820, Bridgerton Creators Rhimes and Chris Van Dusen still take many creative liberties to reflect modern society. But how well do they represent what sex was really like in Regency England?

speaking to The independent, Lesley A Hall, former archivist at London's Wellcome Library and historian of gender and sexuality in the 19th and 20th centuries, revealed that Bridgerton is more of a romanticized version of what intimacy was really like during that period. In fact, many relationships between men and women of high society were aimed at ensuring financial correspondence.

“There are all kinds of compromises within elite aristocratic circles, where people recognize that you have to marry for financial reasons and not necessarily for love or a certain type of affection,” Hall said. The independent.

As a result, many restrictions were placed on women in society, so as not to taint their prospects of finding a husband. Hall explained that eligible young women had to “be virginal” and “pure.” The strict rules of courtship during the Regency era meant that men and women must always be accompanied to safeguard their reputations.

Newton and Coughlan as Colin and Penelope, respectively, in 'Bridgerton' (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

“They have to be because, in producing an heir for the right husband, they should not be impregnated by someone else before marriage,” she said. “There was also a lot of superstition about if they had had another man, that could have some kind of effect on them.”

Although these outdated ideals about women would persist well into the 20th century (and even in some places today), historians see the Georgian period – which includes the Regency era – as a kind of “sexual revolution” throughout Britain. . Ideas about sex became more secular, rather than influenced by the Church, and discussions of extramarital sex, pornography, and same-sex relationships permeated the entire visual culture of the period. By 1750, most forms of consensual extramarital sexual relations had already been legalized in Britain, with the exception of homosexuality. Although even English philosophers like Jeremy Bentham advocated for the decriminalization of sodomy.

Fortunately for women, some of these changes also included changes in attitudes toward female sexual pleasure.

Penelope enlists the help of 'marriage whisperer' Colin to help her secure a love match (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

“There has been a change in the idea that both men and women have the same lust, and even that women are possibly more lustful than men. There was a growing idea that women are purer, but in reality they have to contain the dangerous powers of sexuality; that women need to have orgasms to conceive; that sexual pleasure for both sexes is necessary for reproduction,” Hall said. “Whether of course it was being discussed in these elite circles, as opposed to a more radical lower middle class, is a completely different thing. “There were all kinds of communities within the elite circles that mixed with intellectuals and radicals, so you can't say that these ideas are not filtering down.”

Therefore, it initially surprised viewers in the first season of Bridgerton when the protagonist Daphne had no idea about sex and reproduction. This was repeated once again in season three, when Penelope's sisters, who are in a race to produce an heir to the Featherington fortune (or what's left of it), proved that they don't know much about sex.

Hall admitted that it is quite possible that some socialites shied away from discussions of sex, let alone female pleasure. While Hall cited the popular 1684 pamphlet Aristotle's masterpiecewhich provided a manual on sex, pregnancy and childbirth, complete ignorance about sex was not necessarily the norm.

“There may have been girls who were kept very chaste by their parents, but they may also have heard from servants, picked up things in their father's library, or been told by their brothers,” he said.

As for the men in Bridgerton, who are often seen parading around brothels, the sexual inclinations of men in the Regency era were very similar. “Men were very free to take mistresses, go to brothels, seduce other men's wives,” Hall said. However, the characters on the show seem too relaxed when it comes to contraception. Should season three viewers just assume that Colin put on a sheepgut condom when he had a threesome with two women in episode two?

“Sheep gut condoms from the early 19th century would probably have been used as protection against venereal diseases in that period,” Hall said. Made from sheep intestines, this popular form of contraception included soaking, drying and securing with tape. “We might expect the young people to be practicing safe sex, but they were probably a lot more reckless.”

Are fans tuning in? Bridgerton each season for the show's historical accuracy and depiction of real life from the Regency era? Most likely not. It's safe to say that fashion, sex, and the romantic view of dating is what attracts viewers to log into their parents' Netflix account and binge-watch movies. Bridgerton. But just because the series isn't entirely accurate, especially when it comes to its depiction of intimacy, doesn't mean fans can't enjoy it anyway.

“It's not necessarily the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but it's not necessarily a complete lie either. Sometimes you need good and beautiful stories. “We don’t always want bleak, miserable stories,” Hall said. “People had happy marriages. People fell in love. People married people they wanted, instead of someone they didn't want. There’s nothing wrong with having fun.”

The first four episodes of Bridgerton The third season is available to stream on Netflix. The final four episodes will be released on June 13.

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