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Bridgerton Sex Scenes "Less Sensual Than Any Jane Austen Classic"


There was always a set of rules when it came to historical dramas, especially festive ones.

In the well-worn adaptations of Jane Austen with her Regency balls and prim ladies in the right cotillion, the riskiest jokes go no further than references to rear admirals and vice admirals.

The dresses can be laced tightly under any tempting plump cleavage, but the screen never loosens.

How different from the Netflix blockbuster Bridgerton.

Netflix's Bridgerton has become one of the most watched programs on the streaming service, but Libby Purves argues the series is "dirty". Pictured: Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton

Libby said the resolution between Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen's Mr. Darcy at the end of Joe Wright's Price And Prejudice 2005 was great. Pictured: Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice

Libby said the resolution between Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen's Mr. Darcy at the end of Joe Wright's Price And Prejudice 2005 was great. Pictured: Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice

For this series, which has become one of the most watched programs on the streaming site since it was released on Christmas Day, the opposite is true.

It's on the verge of parody: a Regency frenzy of absurd made-up titles, goofy lap dogs, huge wigs, and tiny waists as two families battle to get their debut daughters married correctly.

Phoebe Dynevor (daughter of Sally from Corrie) is the beautiful Daphne who hesitates when she is attracted to the handsome but Rakish Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page).

In the meantime, mother plans, giggling widows and men with good-natured titles lead splintered lives, all told by the gossip pamphlet in Lady Whistledown, a terribly bent voice of Julie Andrews, Heaven helps us.

The show is as shallow as a puddle of Prosecco and quite funny at times.

After many spent a year mostly in tracksuits, the costumes are particularly appealing. Overall, the best description came from someone I knew who said it felt like a box of leftover Quality Street had decided to stage their own soap opera.

But my goodness it's dirty. Forget Bridgerton; Bonkerton would be more appropriate.

Let's hope that the families weren't too drowsy with food over Christmas to ignore the very discreet warning about "sex references, sex, sexual violence references" at the beginning.

Social media has been filled with stories from those who found it uncomfortable to watch the series with family. Pictured: Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton

Social media has been filled with stories from those who found it uncomfortable to watch the series with family. Pictured: Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton

Surely social media has been full of stories of awkwardness as families recklessly dived in looking for something to fill the Downton-shaped hole in their hearts, preferably with feathers, flounces, stately home shots, and innocent young creatures romantic gavottes with the Duke made by someone.

Perhaps the creators knew that there would not be many multi-generation meetings in 2020.

Even the closest great-grandmother would probably be fine with sex against a tree five minutes into the first episode, maybe back off a bit at the entanglement and bare male bum ten minutes later, and then relax for a while.

But believe me, until you have a couple of episodes – in which the innocent Daphne eagerly explains all sorts of sexual acts and demonstrated to her by the dashing Duke – part of the family will be crawling behind the sofa.

While you may be able to bear with no perishable young children around, those of my own generation, the 1950s grandmas, will still wince.

And for God's sake, don't watch this with your teen for the good of both parties.

Libby argues that it is incorrect to assume that everyone will appreciate the actors' full nudity and savage physical act on screen. Pictured: Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton

Libby argues that it is incorrect to assume that everyone will appreciate the actors' full nudity and savage physical act on screen. Pictured: Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton

That's the problem these days: streaming services mean there is no longer a TV watershed. Gone are the days when everyone lived on the theory that it is your fault if you can't get your kids to bed by nine o'clock when they learn lots of bad words and the facts of life.

I have nothing against Bridgerton, and it's at least funnier than the bleak, if dignified, stuff Lord Fellowes keeps stirring up.

Perhaps we regrettably have to accept that the days are gone when the sight of Colin Firth in a wet shirt was enough to make a generation of Bridget Joneses hysterical with desire.

The problem, however, is that Bridgerton's attempt to be realistically erotic, as with many new dramas, does just the opposite for many of us.

The assumption that we all appreciate the actors' full on-screen nudity and ferocious physical act is not entirely true. This minority is well served by "adult" channels.

In the meantime, the rest of us have little interest in watching other people bounce around in a sweaty sweat, while the strange new job of "intimacy coordinator" is making sure every inch is consensual.

According to Libby, viewers crave a representation of love that we truly empathize with. Pictured: Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton

According to Libby, viewers crave a representation of love that we truly empathize with. Pictured: Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton

What we want to see, what we really understand, is that sense of connection: the dizzying sensation of falling in love, your heart beating like a drum when you realize that someone is just perfect in every way and you long for their touch .

A screen kiss is fine (though rarely very convincing) and there's nothing wrong with two people being intertwined, excited to be alone, or waking up happy in each other's arms.

But the most powerful electric moments are those that you can perfectly watch alongside families of all ages and morals.

At the end of Joe Wright's 2005 Pride And Prejudice film, when there is finally a solution between Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen's Mr Darcy, the moment is great.

After both suffer and think that all is lost, Darcy explains that his feelings are unchanged and Elizabeth sees that the sky is open before her. But they don't even kiss. They just fold their foreheads in a moment too rich for language.

Forget the rut on a spiral staircase; small, subtle gestures really make you feel that sexual tension. Like the scene in the stage version of Brief Encounter in which Alec puts Laura's cardigan over her shoulders and the audience (well, me) is about to faint in the stands.

Or indeed the really exciting scene in Bridgerton. At a crucial moment (no spoilers …) the Duke tells Daphne that she can now do without her elbow-length white gloves. So he pulls it off and – gasps for air! – touches her wrist. That's how you do it.

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