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South Asian representation in Bridgerton

Approximately a month ago, Netflix released season 2 of their book-to-screen adaptation Bridgerton, which focuses on the life of the Bridgerton family and those related to them during the Regency era of London. 

In season 2, two new characters take the stage, and these sisters have become the talk of the town in both the show and in reality. These two young ladies, Kate Sharma (played by Simone Ashley) and Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) are the new Indian characters who have taken fans by storm. 

Many South-Asians were excited to see people of similar backgrounds in a show they love, while others weren’t as enthusiastic about the representation. 

One student from this community, Syeda R. from the 9th grade, is a fan of the show “because of the pretty dresses and balls, and also the drama and secrets, especially with Lady Whistledown.” 

When asked about her views on South Asian people being in a show that presents pieces of their culture, she says that she appreciates them “being inclusive. however, it’s unrealistic, especially with the time of the show. It’s the early 1800s, in England, so this wouldn’t be possible, or at least to the rank the characters are at.”

Despite these inaccuracies in depiction, she still believes it to be a positive forward motion as “they are being very inclusive, especially at the balls where there were several races and ethnicities shown. However, she “would alter it a little bit so it is realistic with the time period.”

Others disagree with this being a positive step forward for that very reason. Although they are not a part of the South Asian community, one ninth-grader feels as though “the information and how brown people are illustrated are far from historically accurate and therefore give others the wrong idea about brown people from the past.”

While this show has provoked a mixed batch of opinions on appropriate depiction, Bridgerton is far from the only show to include South Asians. 

One twelfth-grade student mentions another show with a South Asian representation called New Girl. However, they feel as if “it is not achieved well because the South Asian character is very objectified.”

Another eleventh grade student adds that they were watching a TikTok where “this girl took off her hijab to save a bleeding patient and they were in a hospital.” She “found this really weird because they were in a hospital. She could’ve gotten some tissue or used the blanket that was on the patient.”

As for myself, I do really enjoy Bridgerton for its intrigue and drama, but I must agree that the show could have been more accurate. South-Asian characters would not have had the rights they exhibit in the show, and although harsh, it would have been interesting to see how that would have played out in this gossip-centered show. 

However, that is not to say that there were no upsides. Some scenes did well in demonstrating small bits of brown culture. The terms used and festivities celebrated do illustrate staple parts of this community’s customs. 

In the end, Bridgerton has its highs and lows, but it is undeniable that it certainly makes an impact on South Asian representation.

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