“Bridgerton” Season 2 — Revolutionary Representation for South Asians
Season 2 of Bridgerton has finally been released, and its beautiful, vital representation of South Asian culture glimmers through and through.
As a South Asian myself, I feel quite credible to talk about the abundant, upsetting, and annoying lack of representation of South Asians in modern media.
Take a second to think about popular South Asian figures in the media today.
For all intents and purposes, let’s exclude some of the only but most obvious people like Priyanka Chopra and Hasan Minhaj. Personally, my mind goes to the one and only Baljeet from Phineas and Ferb. I may even stretch it a bit and think about famous YouTubers like Lilly Singh or Liza Koshy.
Who did you think of? In the Western world and its media, there isn’t much there. South Asians have been historically underrepresented in media outside of their own, and this is harmful. Furthermore, if they are represented, many times it is tokenized. In layman’s terms, this just means that their character was put there as a show of ‘diversity’ so a show can say, “Hey look! We are SO diverse! We have (insert minority group)!” but that’s it. The characters hold no real value in the show other than being there for diversity, and it gives a false sense of representation when these characters are furthermore stereotyped or misrepresented.
Even drawing back to Baljeet, his character is so heavily stereotyped as the ‘smart Indian kid’ and a lot of his identity and purpose in the show is based in this.
But thankfully, Bridgerton is different. Amidst the stifling air that South Asians breathe as they seek representation today, this show swoops in and revives hope that genuine representation is possible.
You see, Bridgerton has two main characters that are sisters, Kate and Edwina Sharma. The siblings are shown as humans that simply go through good and bad situations as they exercise their flaws and express themselves, and they just so happen to be Indian. The main focus and their role in the show is to exist as love interests to Viscount Anthony Bridgerton, and their identity as an Indian is balanced perfectly. It’s not undermined, but it’s not overstated, either.
To further expound on how well this show represents South Asians, they go against the grain of the infamous Model Minority Myth that claims South Asians are always kind, intelligent, wealthy, and overall ‘superior’ to other minorities that need to follow suit. Kate and Edwina have many flaws, and they are all explored without remorse. There is no stereotype or special attention to make them perfect, always upstanding people, which I couldn’t be happier for.
They also express South Asian culture oh so beautifully. Looking back on the episodes now, it makes me a little emotional to see our culture appreciated so much after being starved of it my whole lifetime. Be it the Haldi ceremony, ‘appa’, ‘amma’, ‘didi’, the Indian-artisan inspired beaded gowns, the golden jewelry, bangles, tea, or classical rendition of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, the show highlights some beautiful aspects of Indian culture that are seldom appreciated in the way this show does it.
A Reflection of Society Today
By having race not be the focal point of Kate and Edwina’s role and normalizing them as just individuals in the show, so does it reflect society today. Society today is increasingly globalized and diverse. This is reflected in so many ways, from interracial relationships becoming more and more normalized, the healing of generational trauma, a step away from traditional gender/race roles, large volumes of immigration, and the usage of technology to connect global communities.
From my end, I see what this means for my community. Or, at least what I wanted to see happen to it. I’d suspected that with all this interconnectedness and community, my South Asian clan would also join in the mix, but that’s not what happened — until recently, that is. With shows like Bridgerton — as weird as it sounds — it almost helps to normalize us, us with all our Hindi names, teas, clothes, practices, and physical attributes, into this globalized society.
As the Tweet posted above says, it really is nice to experience escapism in media. While the show is not historically accurate, it combines characteristics of the past with a reimagined vision of inclusivity and diversity.
Little ole’ Vrisha (me) would have been so delighted to see this since she indulged especially in imagining herself as part of these old, regal times, and what my life would have been like. With Bridgerton existing, it’s almost like now, I don’t really have to. Instead, I see the ethereal Simone Ashley (Kate Sharma), butttttt that is besides the point. Looking into the future, I only hope that we continue this uphill trek to more genuine inclusivity and diversity, and I hope Bridgerton and many other shows today is just the start.
Thanks so much for reading my little rant on Bridgerton! I highly suggest you see the show, streaming on Netflix now. If you’ve seen the show, please do share your thoughts! If not, let me know your thoughts otherwise, and check out some of my other work down below:
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A Decade of YouTubers
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Songs That Transcend Me To Another Dimension
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