Bridgerton slammed for glamourizing toxic relationships

The Netflix original show Bridgerton has been criticised for glamourizing toxic relationships

Bridgerton
(Image credit: Netflix)

Everyone seems to have lost themselves in the hyped series that is the Netflix original: Bridgerton. And we love it all, from the costume design to the classical versions of modern songs, we're obsessed. And if you're anything like us, you loved it so much that you too binged the whole series in one night and now you need the best eye cream for dark circles to camouflage those sleepless nights.

With Bridgerton being viewed in 63 million households within 4 weeks of its release, it's safe to say that the new Shonda Rhimes show is a little bit of a hit. But, as popular the series is, critics have questioned how responsible the show makers have been in their depiction of certain character's romantic relationships. 

Bridgerton primarily focuses on the romantic relationship between young debutant Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett. 

The duo agree to a fake courtship in order to benefit them both and trick the local gossiper Lady Whistledown. Daphne and Simon soon start to have real feelings for one another and after various events the two get hastily married after a short false courtship.

It is this relationship between Daphne and the Simon that many fans are calling into question and labelling as "toxic", with one fan stating: "The main ship was several levels of toxic."

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*The next paragraph contains spoiler alerts*

Simon leads Daphne to believe that he is impotent, when in fact they have been using the pull out method as a means of contraception. 

Daphne soon learns that he is in fact lying by omission and can in fact conceive a child, something that she is desperate to do. 

Daphne then has sex with Simon while she is on top of him and doesn’t allow him to pull out before he ejaculates. 

Simon and Daphne

(Image credit: Netflix)

When speaking about this pinnacle scene, Phoebe Dynevor the actress who plays Daphne, 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.”

But many critics disagree with this analysis. Alisha Grauso writes in Screen Rant about this scene: "It's gross, it's mutually disrespectful, and not once did they [Daphne and Simon] ever have an adult conversation about any of it. Yet Bridgerton presented their relationship as wholly romantic."

Allegedly the novel by Julia Quinn, on which the series is based, handles this interaction very differently. In the novel the Duke comes home drunk and is virtually unconscious when Daphne then has sex with him.

Many fans are disappointed that this scene was included as the writers could have eradicated this narrative that appeared in the original novels.

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In another scene Simon reminds Daphne that he was willing to die so that she could move on and marry someone else. Many fans speculate that this is a prime example of emotional manipulation and demonstrates the unhealthy nature of their relationship. 

Author and life coach Preston Ni writes in Psychology today that "manipulation of facts" and "the silent treatment" are two key signs of psychological and emotional manipulation. 

Both of these traits are demonstrated by Simon when he ignores Daphne after their fight and threatens to continue their marriage "by name only" ie: without interaction with one another. He also manipulates the facts about his ability to bear children in order to avoid conflict with Daphne.

Kelsie Gibson wrote in an article for Popsugar: "Listen, I love a star-crossed romance as much as the next person, but the truth is, they don't usually make the healthiest relationships, onscreen or otherwise. While Daphne and Simon are able to set aside their differences and come together by the final episode, that doesn't make the foundation of their romance any less unstable. Their relationship was literally based upon lies and deceit."

Despite this toxic relationship debate, fans of the show are still obsessed with the series and cannot wait for a second season of the period drama. 

Laura Harman
Laura Harman

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty and fashion news, and her favourite stories to cover as anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found baking, hiking with her dog, shopping, and practicing yoga.