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Why Netflix Bridgerton Flips And Un-flips Racial Injustice

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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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Cobra Kai Season 4 – Review

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Cobra Kai season four is out now on Netflix and the All Valley is back and better than ever. Here’s our review.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

It’s January, and new shows are popping up everywhere. This brings us to the show that I and my friends have been holding our breaths for: the fourth season of the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai! After three seasons, I wondered if there was anything left to mine from the Karate Kid lore or the Johnny/Daniel dynamic. I am happy to report that this might be my favourite season yet! It manages to not only expand upon the universe it has created, but to bring in a new villain, who is so bad that he threatens to outdo even John Kreese!

Alliance

Season four sets us off where the third left off, with Johnny and Daniel having joined forces to fight Cobra Kai. Their friendship arc is the glue that holds this season together. The story focuses largely on whether they will be able to pull it together and make their partnership work. As in previous seasons, their relationship has its ups and downs. The stakes are heightened, however, as the season leads up to the All-Valley Tournament. A bet between the three senseis – Kreese, Daniel, and Johnny – means that losing the All Valley is losing the title of sensei.

This season explores the ways that both Johnny and Daniel work with the kids. It also examines the kids’ struggles as they prepare for the All Valley while dealing with conflict within the ever-changing network of friends and enemies in the dojos. Robbie has left juvenile hall and decided to join up with Cobra Kai as a means of inflicting revenge on both his dad and Daniel. Tori and Sam continue their rivalry. And John Reese’s old friend Terry Silver (of Karate Kid 3 fame) shows up to kick Cobra Kai into high gear.

Daniel’s son, Anthony, who has largely been absent until now, faces his own dilemma when his friends begin bullying Kenny, the new kid in town. This soft-spoken middle school character brings us into the world of the younger kids, setting up yet another storyline. Kenny becomes the victim of a gang of kids (including Anthony), enduring round after round of bullying before Robbie takes him under his wing. After his induction into Cobra Kai, the formerly shy middle-schooler becomes a bully himself.

Shades of grey

This brings me to one of my favourite things about the show. The constant back and forth dynamic between characters makes us feel that anything is possible. There is no black and white in the world of Cobra Kai. Where the Karate Kid told us that Daniel was good, and Johnny was bad, this show gives us a very different point of view. It’s a world where we’re never sure who to root for. In this season, we even see Hawk make a return to the “good guys” side after giving up his spot at Cobra Kai.

With Eagle Fang (Johnny’s new dojo) and Miyagi-Do teaming up, the kids – and the adults – have to learn to work together. Of course, complications ensue. Johnny becomes jealous of what he perceives as Miguel’s preference for Daniel over him. Sam wants to learn both her dad’s karate style and Johnny’s, despite her father’s discouragement. Meanwhile, at Cobra Kai, Kreese is losing his grip on the dojo. His former war buddy, Terry Silver, puts off a rather benign appearance in episode one, growing more and more evil with each episode.

This season is lacking in many of the big fight scenes of the previous seasons, instead choosing to focus their energy on the characters. The All Valley Tournament features several great karate matches and offers a satisfying conclusion to Johnny and Daniel’s arc. In the end, Cobra Kai takes the tournament win, but Johnny and Daniel have reached an understanding.

New champions

Tori defeats Sam to take the women’s All Valley trophy but later overhears her sensei paying off one of the referees. It’s clear that Cobra Kai has pulled yet another fast one. But the season ends on an even more ominous – and unexpected – note. Terry Silver assaults the over-aged former Cobra Kai member, Stingray, sending him to the hospital. He then makes a deal with Stingray to blame the crime on Kreese. We end the season with Kreese in handcuffs, Terry Silver set to take over Cobra Kai, and the future of Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do uncertain. In a last shocking twist, Miguel leaves town in search of his biological father.

Although some may miss the school hallway throw downs, I found this one satisfying in a different way. It just goes to show that the ever-expanding Cobra Kai universe can keep bringing surprises season after season.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10


Thank you for reading our review of Cobra Kai season four. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Check out our Hawkeye episode one and two review HERE.

Read IMDB information about Spider-Man: No Way Home HERE.

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