Bridgerton without the sex; it’s like tonic, without the gin. Not undrinkable, of course, but really missing the point.
Because, let’s be honest, ladies, the glorious sex scenes were the entire basis of the Bridgerton craze.
Or, to be more specific, the sex scenes between Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and her husband Simon, Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page).
‘Because, let’s be honest, ladies, the glorious sex scenes were the entire basis of the Bridgerton craze,’ writes Maggie Alderson
Dear me. That man’s eyebrows turn most women into quivering wrecks. I still re-watch that moment when he licks his teaspoon clean (fans will know the one I mean) just to remind myself how astonishingly erotic it is.
And when, on his wedding night, he told his new bride ‘I burn for you’…well, pick me and the rest of womankind up from the floor.
It was already a blow to learn he wouldn’t be returning for season two, though we hoped the new leading man Anthony Bridgerton, played by Jonathan Bailey, would fill his impeccable boots.
So when I heard that the much-awaited new series of the Regency romp, showing on Netflix from Friday, has very little of the hot stuff in it — a mere three minutes across the series, and you have to wait until episode seven, for goodness sake — my beating heart fell still.
And I wasn’t alone. Social media — not to mention every review — was full of disappointed women.
Given the first season had provided almost 20 minutes of steaminess, with the first romp occurring within three minutes of episode one, is it any wonder that we feel short-changed?
For in a world where the majority of TV sex is either violent or gritty, the joy of Bridgerton is that its sensitive, yet saucy, love scenes are something glorious to celebrate.
Though the prevalence of streaming platforms means we’re overwhelmed with choice, I hardly watch TV dramas these days.
I can’t bear any reference to sexual violence in entertainment and there’s so much of it out there — even in shows you wouldn’t expect.
Maggie Alderson says that ‘in a world where the majority of TV sex is either violent or gritty, the joy of Bridgerton is that its sensitive, yet saucy, love scenes are something glorious to celebrate’
Safer then, not to engage.
I missed out on the whole Game Of Thrones phenomenon because I didn’t want to sit through endless scenes of horrible rapes — the first of which occurred in the show’s pilot episode.
And I’m equally turned off by the ‘edgy’ consensual sex seen in shows such as Industry, which had an aggressive, pornographic feel to it, with thrusting in toilets and on kitchen worktops.
There was absolutely zero tenderness. It felt like a man’s idea of what makes sex sexy.
In stark contrast, the sex in Bridgerton was very much what women find sexy — and it didn’t hurt that it took place in a four-poster bed, a folly and, memorably, the library of a stately home.
As Julia Quinn, the author of the novels on which the series is based, says: ‘The difference is you see it through the female gaze rather than the male gaze. That feminisation of intimacy is revolutionary.’
She’s spot on. We see it all very much from the point of view of Daphne, and her pleasure is front and centre — to the point that even while she and heavenly Simon were still in the just-good-friends stage, he coaches her on how to achieve pleasure, advising her to ‘touch herself’ when she’s alone at night.
For once, this was an on-screen female climax that women actually believed.
I also felt able to submit unreservedly to the sex scenes in the knowledge that they had been filmed under the watchful eye of an intimacy coach, with the utmost sensitivity to the actors.
Knowing there was a half-inflated netball between those heaving bodies — used to ensure appropriate distance was maintained — meant there wasn’t part of my mind wondering if the actress was uncomfortable. Instead, I could just enjoy it.
Another key element that makes the sex in Bridgerton so appealing to women is the way the tension built up between Daphne and Simon.
Julia Quinn, the author of the novels on which the series is based, says: ‘The difference is you see it through the female gaze rather than the male gaze.’ Pictured, Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and her husband Simon, Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page)
The fleeting touching of hands in episode three, their first passionate kiss in episode four…by the time they consummated their relationship in episode five, I was having conniptions.
Whereas in the romantic period dramas of old (think back to Colin Firth in Pride And Prejudice) there isn’t so much as a holding of hands.
The glory of Bridgerton was that we had a brooding, complex hero — and we got to see his bottom.
this is where I think the makers of Bridgerton have made a big mistake with their new, comparatively sexless series.
The Jane Austen adaptations are peerless works of art, rendered exquisitely with an eye to historical accuracy.
Bridgerton, meanwhile, is based on a series of lightweight 21st-century rom- ance novels, packed with hilarious anachronisms.
I fear its creators, as they solemnly proclaim that ‘we’ve never done a sex scene for the sake of doing a sex scene and I don’t think we ever will’, have confused their popular success with artistic merit.
What they need to understand is that it’s a good-hearted Regency romp. And you can’t have a romp without the odd rollick.