Much like everyone else on the internet, I binge-watched the newly popular hit Netflix show, Bridgerton, in lockdown. To briefly summarise, for those who have not seen the series (and to avoid spoilers!), Bridgerton centres its storylines amongst Britain’s highest elite in 1813. The Bridgerton family’s eldest daughter, Daphne, embarks on ‘the social season’ in hopes of finding a suitor to marry. It is actually so much more than this, but I cannot tell you anymore. You’ll have to watch for yourself!
The backdrop of elaborate balls and socialising enhances the lavish gowns and jewellery and the stunning visuals accompany its soundtrack of string quartet pop song covers. The Ariana Grande is my favourite! Oh, and I cannot forget to mention the pretty raunchy sex scenes! However, despite my love for the show, I was not drawn in by the male lead, The Duke of Hastings’ (played by Regé-Jean Page) chiselled jawline and piercing stare, but more the character of Eloise (played by Claudia Jessie), a younger sister of the show’s female lead, Daphne.
On the surface, Eloise takes on the role of the token feminist character. She is the outsider, she wants more of her life than to marry. But after a few watches of the entire season (because it’s that good) I recognised the opportunity of reading Eloise as queer. As a queer viewer, I am always trying to find myself in whatever I’m watching. Eloise is that character for me in Bridgerton and here are the reasons why!
1. Eloise is rebellious
To start with, I read Eloise as queer through her loud and rebellious spirit. She takes up space. Like in the first episode, the family is all waiting for the female lead, Daphne, to come downstairs. Eloise surrounded by her brothers, screams ‘Daphne! We must make haste!’ through the entire house. This pretty much sums Eloise up in a nutshell as the boisterous one of the group! Eloise is not conforming to gender stereotypes and her screaming in this scene just comforts my queer heart.
2. Eloise is curious
Next, Eloise questions her role as a woman in society. She is intrigued about life outside of the patriarchy, like her desire to attend university. She even delays her entrance to ‘the season’ by a year (which means she has delayed marriage). There is a ‘there must be more than this!’ nature about Eloise’s character. This side of Eloise is so relatable to my experience as a younger queer person on the brink of coming out. The act of leaning into your ‘new’ queer self through curiosity and questioning societal expectations and values is all but too familiar to many in the LGBTQ+ community.
3. Eloise’s appearance
Eloise even physically presents her defiant nature through her costumes and hairstyles. The high necks of her dresses and her blunt brown fringe (which look amazing, what a combo!) match her rebellious mind.
4. Eloise is compassionate
My reading of Eloise above shows the explicit characteristics of her potential queerness. But, there are some more subtle ways. Eloise has a softer side full of kindness and compassion. She is very protective of her family and friends. For example, when a suitor arrives at the house that Daphne feels uneasy about, Eloise wants to stay with her as she knows Daphne is uncomfortable. This side of Eloise just reminds me of how many LGBTQ+ people have a lot of compassion (having experienced a lot themselves).
All in all, this reading of Eloise allows the queer audience member to be a part of this popular show. We too can dance to string quartet Ariana Grande covers, thrive on the gossip of Britain’s highest elite, and attend luxurious events. We can join in and be involved! This show is a must-watch!
Hope you enjoy it!
Team Nonchalant x