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Why Netflix Bridgerton Flips And Un-flips Racial Injustice

Kym Du Toit



bridgerton duke of hastings image

The hit Netflix show ‘Bridgerton’ has certainly caused a stir. Yet, it’s original source didn’t see quite the same spotlight. Julia Quinn’s novels blended into the background of modern-day literature. Written back in 2000. The books were shelved amongst other works attempting to rival famous regency literature.

That was, until Shonda Rhimes took those books off the shelf, and shook them to their core. The American producer not only brought the story to life in all it’s regency glory. She altered historic societal structures cemented in colonial life.

No matter which way the 19th Century is analysed, one thing is concrete, everyone had their place. Like modern day, classes governed society. Unlike today, it was almost near impossible to move up the ranks. Especially when it came to the colour of skin.

The Netflix show is set in an era of colonial endeavours, Bridgerton raises questions of diverse nobility. According to historians, black nobility did exist, but the numbers were minor. Which hardly enabled the scales to tip. Rhimes decided to add a few weights to those proverbial scales. Making diversity in the 1800’s as common as corsets. She sought to use the series to reinvent a society built on contradiction and prejudice. This is what makes the adaptation of Quinn’s novels so unique. I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that colour fills all levels of society in the ton.

Let’s take a look at casting, and how it challenges the racial injustices of a Colonial period.

Queen Charlotte

The Queen seems to be the most poignant character to begin with. For two reasons. One, Charlotte is brilliantly played by Golda Rosheuvel. A British born actress who has been a key figure in black theatrical casting changes. The second reason examines Queen Charlotte as a historical figure.

Charlotte was born into a family who ruled Duchy Mecklenburg-Strelitz in the 1700s. According to resources, there are theories that Charlotte had a mixed racial heritage. Historian Mario de Valdes y Cocom proposed portraits show her having African features. Valdes also cited many first-hand accounts of Charlotte’s appearance. One describes her nose as “too wide and her lips too thick.” These descriptions parallel Charlotte’s image to how black people were viewed at the time.

Because of these accusations, Charlotte became celebrated by black colonial subjects. Who saw her image as a beacon of hope for their place in society.

The Duke of Hastings

Simon is hailed as a “real-life Disney prince” by adoring fans. Initially the most obvious rake in the town, the Duke quickly becomes the centre of gossip. He is played by British-Zimbabwean actor Rege-Jean Page.

In episode 4 Lady Danbury reminds Simon that once societies were separated by colour. That was, until a King “fell in love with one of us.” On a few occasions black history is discussed. But it is interesting to see how producers blend modern-day issues with regency politics. Not only has black history altered, but families of colour proudly sit in aristocracy. What’s more? The Duke, although dealing with father issues, seems completely comfortable amongst society. I believe a better casting for the role couldn’t have been found.

Lady Danbury

The woman who raised Simon sets out to always remind him of his place, where he’s been, and why he should be grateful. As any doting parent-figure should.

When it comes to race, Lady Danbury seems to be the key to exploring how black aristocracy rose in equality. But she is also a key figure in the workings of the complicated 1800s social caste system.

Like Rhimes’ period drama “Still Star-Crossed.” the focal point of Lady Danbury isn’t the colour of her skin. She may have been cast as a black woman. But the true focus of her character centres on her ability to woo the ton and bend the people to her will. In this sense, Lady Danbury plays a vital role. Her character sets out to alter the focus of contemporary racial perceptions. To instead bend the viewer to accept the social charade of the 1800s for what it is.

Marina Thompson

Marina is an interesting character, and this is enhanced by her casting. Ruby Barker is of mixed-race descent, as is her character. Yet, Marina also exposes a slight flaw in the colour-blind casting technique.

Marina’s storyline closely resembles the stereotyped role of the “tragic mulatta.” This is probably unintentional. Nevertheless, this role has been a popular stereotype used in abolitionist fiction.

The figure of a light skinned mulatta was used by writers to gain sympathy from the reader. Eve Allegra Raimon explains this perfectly in “The Tragic Mulatta Revisited.” This is similar to how Marina Thompson’s endeavours are explored in Bridgerton.

Only passing comments of her father are made. She is described as a “distant cousin” of the Featheringtons. Initially she outshines the jewel in the debutante crown. She then quickly becomes the source of gossip for the town. Marina’s fate is finally sealed once it becomes known that she is with another’s child.

No matter how Bridgerton is analysed in terms of colour-blind casting. It is clear that race was never meant to be a focal point of the story. Instead, societal structures are a central line of focus. Either way, we look forward to seeing what Rhimes has in store for the second season in the ton.

Thank you for reading our article on why Bridgerton from Netflix flips and un-flips racial injustice. What are your thoughts on Bridgerton on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below.

Read five things you missed in Bridgerton HERE.

Read IMDB information about Bridgerton HERE.

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A Cheat Sheet For The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers

Sarah Casserley



Mighty Ducks Game Changers Emilio Estevez image
Disney Plus

A few weeks ago, the long-anticipated full trailer, and date, for the new Disney Plus The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers series finally dropped. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here.

The series will go live on 26th March. Which gives us plenty of time to catch up on the best sporting Disney trilogy to come out of the 90s. All three films are on Disney Plus for our viewing pleasure. But, other than Emilio Estevez, it looks like it’s a completely new cast. Understandable, as most of the original Mighty Duck members are now in their 40s and ineligible to play in a peewee hockey team.

But, we thought we’d give you a recap of the films anyway. A cheat sheet of sorts to refresh your memory of The Mighty Ducks past before we get into the present.

So, grab the popcorn and get ready to look back. Back at a time when Joshua Jackson was better known for being a cute child star and not one of the horny teenagers from Dawson’s Creek.

Go Ducks!

SPOILERS below, but if you’ve never seen the films before, what have you been doing?

The Mighty Ducks

In 1992, we got the first instalment of The Mighty Ducks, which brought in a massive $50,752,337 worldwide at the box office.

In this film, we follow Gordan Bombay (Estevez) who gets sentenced to community service. This after being caught driving under the influence. Let’s be honest here, it’s not a bad community service sentence. Instead of picking up rubbish or removing graffiti for hours on end, he’s asked to coach a peewee ice hockey team. They’re called District 5 (D-5 for short), deemed the worst hockey team in the league.

It’s a good job Bombay used to be an ice hockey player, right? But, his memories of being the star player on the championship peewee team, The Hawks, is haunted. Haunted by the moment he missed a championship goal, which led to the loss of the game. Then the disapproval of his coach, Coach Reilly (Lane Smith), and the end of his hockey career.

Unfortunately for Bombay, the first game of the series is against The Hawks. They’re still coached by Reilly, a demanding, unforgiving coach and, all in all, not a very nice man. As you can imagine, the uncoached D-5 lose by a country mile. With this, and some added jibes from his old coach, Bombay starts to get frustrated. Instead of training D-5 to get better, he teaches them how to cheat and dive for penalties. But, after a lot of disapproval from the players and their parents, plus a strong pep talk from his old mentor, Hans (Joss Ackland), Gordan gets back out on the ice himself. He finally starts to coach the team properly.

Throughout the film, three new players are added to the team. Figure skaters Tammy and Tommy (Jane Plank and Danny Tamberelli) and the misunderstood Fulton Reed (Elden Henson). As the team’s skills and bonds develop, so does the bond between Bombay and Charlie’s mother, Casey (Heidi Kling). This turns into the film’s romance story, of course!

Before the next match, Bombay announces to the team that they are being sponsored by his law firm. Plus that they have a new name, The Ducks, named after his boss Gerald Ducksworth (Josef Sommer). At this point, the team isn’t too thrilled with the name. But, after yet another pep talk, they agreed to it, starting the game with a united ‘Quack, Quack, Quack’.

With their new skills, The Ducks are soon on a winning streak. Due to district lines, Bombay adds another new member: The Hawks star player, Adam Banks (Vincent LaRusso). Due to both Banks and the team not being happy with this decision, and a minor misunderstanding, the team storm off and forfeit a game. This is soon sorted though. The team go from strength to strength, straight to the Championships, against, you guessed it, The Hawks.

Obviously, this is a problem for Banks who has just moved teams. Especially as Coach Reilly and a few of his ex-teammates engage in some dirty tactics. This leads him to getting injured and sent off. With this, The Ducks are even more determined to win and, like all good Cinderella stories, they do win with Charlie, who’s known for missing shots, scoring a penalty.

The message behind the film: Winning isn’t everything, but having fun is!

D2: The Mighty Ducks

Two years after the original in 1994, D2: The Mighty Ducks, arrived at the cinemas and bagged $45,604,206 at the box office.

Once again, we are led by Bombay, who was back playing ice hockey for a minor league. But he had to leave due to a knee injury.

Fear not, though! Don Tibbles (Michael Tucker), head of Hendrix Hockey, a highly corporate hockey company, hires Bombay to be the new coach of Team USA for the Junior Goodwill Games in California.

Luckily for Bombay, he knows most of the players, as they are mainly from The Ducks with a few added players from around the country. They also have a tutor for the team: Michele (Kathryn Erbe).

The old and new players take a hot minute to get along. But after some unorthodox training techniques, involving the whole team being tied together and being rounded up like sheep, they start to bond, and quickly get the swing of things.

As the team gets ready for the Goodwill Games, Mr Tibbles starts to load team USA with merchandise. Including a breakfast cereal named after them and a brand-new kit. With no mention of the Ducks. Bombay takes the ‘corporate’ life in his stride, even accepting a swanky apartment in Hollywood. However, it starts to bother captain of Team USA Charlie.

Once in Hollywood, Team USA win their first game and meet enthusiastic spectator, Russ (Kenan Thompson). They also encounter the very intimidating Iceland team, led by the formidable Coach Wolf Stansson (Carsten Norgaard).

As they go through the competition, the team get a little cocky and Bombay even starts wearing a suit to games, instead of the normal hockey jacket. During their first game against Iceland, they predictably lose and star player Banks is injured (again). Bombay also gets a bit of a talking to by Mr Tibbles- he is not a fan of losing.

One loss away from elimination, Bombay decides to take out the fun and push the team harder. Which as you can imagine, does not end well. It ends up with the whole team, including Bombay, getting fed up with each other. Russ, once again makes his presence known, and takes the team to his brother’s street hockey team where they learn some new moves. The team is soon back in shape and ready to face the next game, but Bombay is nowhere to be seen. So, teacher Michele, a hockey novice, has to step up and pretend to be coach.

Fortunately, Jan (Jan Rubes), Bombay’s new mentor turns up with yet another pep talk, and after a little memory interlude, Bombay turns up to the game. The team and Bombay sort their issues and win the game.

Unfortunately, due to his arm injury, Banks has to stop playing. But luckily, the team’s captain, Charlie, who is inspired by Bombay, decides to introduce Russ to the team. Team USA go on to win their remaining games and it gets to the final against… once again… you’ve guessed it… Iceland.

Just before this game, a rejuvenated Banks turns up but as they already have Russ as fill in. Charlie decides that he will step down and help coach the team instead, so Banks can play.

Not to be totally predictable and like the first film. This time Team USA must work a little harder to win the game and it goes down to penalties, but they only go and win the cup title… Hazar!

The message behind the film: Teamwork makes the dream work.

D3: The Mighty Ducks

The third and final film instalment, D3: The Mighty Ducks, was released in cinemas in 1996. Bringing in a slightly lower income of $22,936,273 at the box office.

This time, Bombay isn’t the lead, and only has a few cameo parts, mainly to bail The Ducks out with his law degree.

In this film, The Ducks find themselves gaining scholarships to a private high school. The Eden Hall Academy, but without some of the other members. Most notably missing is Bombay, as he has been offered a swanky new job, and Portman (Aaron Lohr), one half of the Bash brothers, who bailed when he heard Bombay did.

The Ducks quickly realise that they are not in their comfort zone anymore, as they meet Dean Buckley (David Selby) and their very intense teachers. But none are as intense as Coach Orion (Jeffrey Nordling), who gives them a whole new set of rules. Including keeping a B average and staying clear from the varsity team, until they play them in the varsity playoffs. There’s also a change in the line-up, Charlie is no longer Captain – in fact no one is . Goldberg (Shaun Weiss) is swapped out of goal with Julie (Colombe Jacobsen-Derstine), and star player Banks is moved to the senior team. They are also stripped of their Duck name and are now known as The Warriors junior team. They also run into trouble with the senior varsity team, who would rather The Ducks weren’t there.

With guidance from their mentor, Hans, Charlie and the team push forward at the new school. However, an outspoken and, dare I say it, brat-ish Charlie gets increasingly frustrated with the demanding Coach Orion. Tensions rise between the senior and junior teams.

After a positive start in their first game of the season, the team ties. But, after some unsportsmanlike conduct and selfishness by Charlie. Dean Buckley and the other members of the school’s board are nervous about the scholarships that they gave out. They start to think about revoking them. On top of this, there is a prank war rising between the junior and senior teams, which starts with kits being soaked and frozen, and ends with an $800 dinner bill being dumped on Charlie and the team. So, to settle the score, they schedule a secret varsity game against Coach Orion’s wishes. Charlie and the team lose, and when Coach Orion finds out, he reprimands the team, which ends with Charlie and Fulton leaving the team.

Hans tries to give Charlie a pep talk, but a defiant Charlie just walks away. Unfortunately, that night, Hans dies. As a result, Fulton returns to the team. After Hans’ funeral, Charlie gets an even stronger pep talk from the visiting Bombay, and so he also returns to the team. Before he leaves, Bombay has one more thing to sort out as it looks like Charlie and the team could seriously lose their scholarships. Yet, after some legal rambling’s courtesy of Bombay, the team gets to keep their place at the school.

Charlie and the team, along with a returning Banks, bounce back and get ready for the varsity game against the seniors. As they improve, Coach Orion realises that he can’t make them into good Warrior players as they are already great Duck players and gives them back their old Duck name for the varsity game.

During the game, it looks like The Ducks might lose again as the senior team is handing out some hard-playing techniques that the Ducks are finding hard to keep up with. But, at half time, it looks like Bombay had pulled even more strings, as Portman shows up with full scholarship papers, and joins Fulton to reunite the Bash brothers. This puts a new energy into the team, along with Coach Orion reinstating Charlie’s Captain badge, and The Ducks go on and win the game and become The Eden Hall Ducks.

The message behind the film: There’s more to Hockey than just playing the game.

So, there you have it, a quick cheat sheet of what happened to get you up to speed and ready for 26th March. We hope you are as excited as we are for The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. Let us know your thoughts on the films and the new series int he comments below.

Check out the trailer for The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers HERE.

Read IMDB information on The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers HERE.

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