Daphne and Simon's relationship in Bridgerton sheds light on Hollywood's fascination with toxic relationships
By romanticizing abuse, Hollywood is normalizing it in the process.
There seems to be an issue within Hollywood and how it continues normalizing toxic and abusive relationships. Throughout the years, abuse has taken center stage in film and television, depicting these relationships in a positive light. Game of Thrones, Suicide Squad, Twilight, Gossip Girl, and Sex and the City all include some level abuse within their storyline.
Even the fantastical realm of Disney include high levels of toxicity in their films. Don't get me started on Beauty and the Beast. Our seemingly strong protagonist was kidnapped by a beast-like creature, imprisoned in his castle and mistreated by him. But hey, she falls in love with him and eventually makes him see the error of his ways so it's all good.
Whether it be full fledged rape, or some form of emotional abuse, Hollywood appears to have a fetish when it comes to toxic relationships, and we as the audience; gobble it up with childlike fascination. The latest installment of romanticized abuse comes in the form of Netflix's latest drama, Bridgerton.
Now, I won't undermine the series entirely because there are a few storylines one can resonate with. However, the relationship between Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and the Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett (Regé-Jean Page) is nonexistent on that list. Daphne and Simon's relationship seemed problematic to begin with. After all, their relationship was a scheme maneuvered by Simon so Daphne could procure more suitors
Nothing based off lies can ever come to fruition.
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Red flags are often easy to spot. It's our disregard for those red flags that become an issue.
But that's not the worse part. As the series unfolds, you begin noticing problematic characteristics with Daphne, as well as Simon. For one, both Daphne and Simon are manipulative and narcissistic. A classic recipe for disaster.
Simon lies to Daphne about being impotent, knowing how important children are to her. Simon continues using the "pull out" method each time he and Daphne engage in intercourse, further tricking Daphne into believing his impotence. When Daphne eventually discovers Simon has been lying to her, she forces him to ejaculate inside her while having sex atop him, in a scene that can only constitute as rape.
During interviews, Dynevor told Bustle: "It's where Daphne really finds her power. It's a give and take in a way, like, 'You did this, so I did that,'" She goes on to say: "It's that murky thing in relationships of being in a marriage and [figuring out] what [is and isn't] consensual."
Ummmm, consent should never be "murky." That's why there's an issue with consent in the first place, because it continues to be unclear. When you have actresses like Dynevor condoning that uncertainty, it blurs the lines even more.
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Outspoken, spirited and independent, Eloise Bridgerton (played by Claudia Jessie) is a far more compelling character than all her siblings combined.
There are more, prime examples of how Daphne and Simon's relationship continues to be toxic. As if a rape scene wasn't justification enough, Simon continues gaslighting Daphne at every corner, continuously manipulating facts about his inability to bear children.
He deliberately ignores Daphne after fights, continually threatening to discontinue their marriage in an effort to avoid further conflict with her. Both the "silent treatment" and "gaslighting" are all forms of psychological and emotional manipulation.
Although this trend is nothing new in Hollywood, it doesn't change the fact these narratives are misguided. By romanticizing abuse, Hollywood is normalizing it in the process.
What frustrates me is how Daphne and Simon's relationship was interpreted to appear overall wholesome and romantic when it was anything but. Fans loved the series so much, it's been viewed in 63 million households in less than three weeks of its release. Listen, I enjoyed the show as much as the next fan, particularly Eloise Bridgerton's storyline, but we can't discount the toxic undertones of the series.
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