In honor of March being women’s history month, we are going to take the time to highlight and celebrate some of our favorite ladies in TV and Film.
Bridgerton premiered on Christmas day and saved 2020 with the lush adaptation we’d all been needing and left us burning for dukes and viscounts all around. While we adore the romance, while we can’t get enough of the score and the prolific family, Shondaland’s latest production is full of incredible ladies worth celebrating. On this period drama,women run the show and while they’re flawed and imperfect, that’s entirely what makes them worthy of celebration. It’s what makes them realistic and compelling—it’s a show full of characters where someone somewhere will have at least one person to relate to. At least one person to adore.
Daphne Bridgerton—the diamond of the first water, the girl with no clue and a lot of heart. She is good kind, and truly, I think that’s what is so easy to appreciate about her in the series. Daphne wants to help people, she wants to be there for people, and she wants her voice to be heard. Daphne is someone who cares about other people and someone who especially cares about transparency. She cares about truth. She cares about the people she loves and she is, without question, a nurturer. She is a the kind of woman who will help someone if she believes they need it, if she is asked to, or just because she is a duchess now and it’s something she should do. The title goes to someone who is acutely deserving of it and someone who uses it rightfully. After losing their father, watching their mother suffer through childbirth and having to guide her siblings through such moments, Daphne understands what it means to stand strong. She uses her wit and her force to stand her ground, but she also sees her siblings as they are—she understands their pain, and she is, in every way, the one they can now come to. And even when she’s clueless, she learns–she grows.
Eloise Bridgerton, the woman who wants to fly—the woman who wants to go to university and the woman who wants to nurture her mind. There is a lot to adore about Eloise and almost every poll we’ve seen, she reigns by being (almost) everyone’s first choice. What’s not to love though? She is our favorite and it’s easy to. But it’s not because she’s the spunky little rebel in a time period where women were only allowed to do so much, it’s because she’s hilarious, she’s bold, she’s vulnerable at times, and she speaks up. There’s always something about the characters that speak up and voice their turmoil that allows us to see ourselves within them, too. And Eloise is a character who learns, a fiercely loyal woman who’d do anything for her family or best friend even after they’ve fought. If you’re in her circle, it’s forever. And that’s the kind of the thing we can’t wait to see more of in later seasons.
Francesca and Hyacinth Bridgerton
We got very little of the youngest Bridgerton girls in season one, but what we did see was thrilling and it’s easy to appreciate them all even without the context from the books. Francesca and her evidently warm spirit; Hyacinth and her boldness. We missed Francesca when she was away, but in the small moments we got with her, it was easy to see that on top of being the quiet one, the one who observes and listens, there’s a whole lot of love in her bursting for family. And good God, Hyacinth. The curious, bold, firecracker of a little girl that’s going to be one heck of a woman who’ll stop at nothing for adventures and a good run at that.
Lady Danbury is the kind of woman everyone should aspire to be when they grow up. A woman deserving of the attention and light that she commands. A woman who does not take no for an answer. She’s fierce and beautiful, and so unbelievably good even when she’s calling people out. (Which really, they all need.) Lady Danbury cares and she cares deeply. She is a woman with a lot of wit and a woman who knows how to have a blast, but also the type of woman who’ll be there for others. The type of woman who sees people as they are and who’ll do everything in her power to ensure that they understand their importance. She’s a woman, who at the end of the day wants the absolute best for those deserving. She’s a woman none of us ever wants to cross because really, losing her respect would be worse than Whistledown calling us undesirable.
My favorite thing about Violet Bridgerton in this adaptation is how flawed she is. Violet isn’t the perfect mother—she’s better than most without question, but after 10-years, she is still a grieving woman, a lost mother, and a broken woman trying her best to raise eight children and to do right by each of them. Violet’s complexity has been one of the best things that came from this season because she too isn’t fully transparent, she’s learning alongside her children and she is trying. She loves them all with her entire being. She’d lay down her life for each of them, but she doesn’t always get things right and this process is so riveting to see. She’s deserving of immense respect because of all this vulnerability and genuine desire to do right and she is deserving of immense respect because her heart is always in the right place. And in her growth, she is setting the type of example that matters. Through all, she’s a paradigm of warmth and gentleness. We wouldn’t adore the Bridgerton family as much if she hadn’t raised them all as she did.
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again, if you don’t love Penelope Featherington, we don’t trust you. It’s that simple. Sorry not sorry, we don’t make the rules—it is what it is. She’s our favorite wallflower, our favorite curious sunflower, and our favorite gossip columnist. To have Penelope Featherington in your corner is perhaps the greatest gift and the Bridgertons are lucky, incomparably lucky because so few truly deserve such an angel on their side. Penelope is brave, unbelievably kind, and fiercely loyal. She’s clearly the best writer on this show and she’s the best confidant, and she damn well deserves the world. Penelope’s journey is that of a woman who tries to ensure everyone around her is happy and doing well. She’d never harm a soul, not unless they deserved their name sullied (Nigel Berbrooke). She’s bold, she’s funny, really and truly so witty. She is a gift to us all. And damn if she isn’t bold–Lady Whistledown earned her trust and respect and that’s something Penelope all on her own. Let that sink in for a moment.
Genevieve Delacroix is perhaps the most surprising and thrilling character of the series. It’s great to put a name to the modiste we so often hear about and with a layered woman we want to know more of. Faux French accent by day, arthouse party in trousers at night? Tell us more. A loyal friend and a protector of women? No, seriously, tell us more. Madame Delacroix is a delightful member of the ton through and through. She might not be as they all are, she might not be welcomed at balls, but she’s a woman none of them can do anything without. She makes them look good and she does so because she needs to. She does so because this her way of making it into a world where women generally don’t unless they come from wealth. She also just really seems like the kind of person who makes the party what it is and we’d want to attend one with her. Basically we just really can’t wait to get more about her.
Queen Charlotte is an absolute force to be reckoned with—holy Pomeranians, we don’t even know where to begin. First, she wins best dressed every damn time, that’s a fact. Second, it’s her world and we’re just living in it. If she wants entertainment, she’s getting it. If she wants to find Whistledown, she’ll find the way to do so. And we even got to see a bit of her vulnerability—a broken side of her that deals with grief and heartache trying to the best of her abilities to be the queen she’s meant to be. There’s really not a dull moment with her on screen and with the second book being our favorite, we really can’t wait to see what she’ll do then. It’s rare for a character who isn’t in the books to be as delightful and as likable as she is. So a whole lot of yes, she is an addition we’re here for!
And then there’s Marina—a complex woman reminding viewers of the importance of standing one’s ground and refusing to let people shame her for the things she’s done. A woman who refuses to settle with the (gross) older men that are paraded to her and a woman who says what’s on her mind. While there’s a lot of things we don’t agree with about her arc and how she went about the situation with Colin, Marina is the type of character whose story mirrored that of many women at the time. Women who were scorned, thrown aside, and overlooked. Women who society deemed improper. Women who hadn’t seen or understood love, and then when they finally did, it was taken from them.
Sometimes, women had to look out for themselves. They needed to do what’s right for them and they need to step out and push aside the men that aren’t right for them. Siena is a riveting woman on her own—an opera singer and perhaps to a degree, even a lost soul herself, but she’ll make her way and she’ll do so as she pleases, on her own terms. In the depths of despair and scorn, Siena’s a woman who fights to stay afloat. A woman who fights to find meaning and logic in a society that rejects her for all that she is.
There is much to uncover with the ladies of Bridgerton even someone as complicated as Portia is an absolute delight on our screens thanks to Polly Walker’s fascinating performances. Alice who’s an absolute gem we wish we got to know way more of and had more scenes with. Prudence and Philippa who are trying so hard.
Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.
She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.