What can Bridgerton tell us about sex?

Bridgerton’s sex scenes are assorted to say the least. The locations span from a rainy pavilion to a ladder to a staircase and back around again to the gardens. What can we take from this? In the Bridgerton world, sex is varied, non-traditional and, as a result, unashamed.

BY THE ROAM TEAM 5 MIN READ

WORDS TO KNOW
Eroticism

An erotic theme or quality, such as feeling sexually arousing, desired or excited.

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Sex galore!

Season 1 has its fair share of steamy moments. Three minutes into the first episode we have our first heavy-handed sex scene with main man Anthony and his opera singer boo Siena going at it against a tree. Just several minutes later in the same episode they go for round two in her dressing room at the opera house. Later in the series, Daphne and Simon make use of a sturdy desk as the support for their newlywed lust. There are many more, but you get the gist.

The ultimate female gaze

What makes these sex scenes unique is that they are written into a feminist cinematic world where women can enjoy and initiate sex just as confidently as men can. Anthony’s naked behind is bared for your viewing pleasure in the first tree scene, whereas normally female nudity is more common. It is Siena who pushes him against a wall – physically dominating him – in the dressing room scene. And Daphne and Simon’s desk moment pushes against the notion that heterosexual sex in the early 19th century is stuffy, conformist, and confined to a four-poster bed.

More than just pushing women further into view, Bridgerton’s sex scenes centre female desire and female pleasure. In season 2, the camera focuses on Anthony’s face between Kate’s legs, before moving to Kate’s face in isolation. The show follows the journey from sexual misunderstanding to sexual empowerment, and we see Daphne learn about and engage in masturbation. Some viewers found this upsetting, or surprising at the very least. But creating dialogue about female masturbation is exactly the sort of sex-positive feminist move that television needs to be making.

Mind-bending tension

The general consensus is that season 2 isn’t as sex-heavy as season 1, but sexuality and all its tensions are still consistent themes. The latest season moves away slightly from hot and sweaty sex and leans more into eroticism. Sex isn’t always found in sex acts, the second season claims. Among the most sexually charged moments is the accidental mud bath that Anthony and Kate (still, up to this point, mortal enemies) fall into when trying to retrieve a ball. Then later, when Anthony and Kate go hunting, he catches a glimpse of her leg (titillating, we know). No sex as of yet, but the tension could be cut with a knife.

Scenes like these are ornamented with heavy breathing, a rising-and-falling bosom, and stolen glances which turn into outright longing gazes. They tell us that sex is nuanced. It is physical, but even the physicality has layers. The partial nakedness of a leg feels somehow more tantalising than full-on nudity.

Ripping up the rule book

Bridgerton’s sex is female-centric, impassioned and, above all, enjoyed by the characters. It rips up the rule book for period dramas and instead teaches its viewers, which range from young to old, about modern, liberated sex. For that alone, it's worth a watch.

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