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Monday, June 27, 2022

Fans split on South Asian representation in Bridgerton season two

Bridgerton fans are split on the South Asian representation in season two.

Fans of one of Netflix’s mega-hit TV shows are split over the South Asian representation in the newest season.

Hitting the streaming platform on Friday, viewers of the historical drama, Bridgerton, had the weekend to binge-watch all eight episodes of season two.

The show first debuted on the streaming platform on Christmas Day in 2020 and became an instant hit around the world.

The period drama is the most-watched English-speaking show on Netflix. Image: Liam Daniel/Netflix.

The period drama became the most-watched series on Netflix at the time of its premiere and remains the second most-watched series by total watch time on the platform.

The second series debuted on 25 March and reached number one in 92 countries amassing 193 million hours of viewing time in its premiere weekend, the highest for any English-language Netflix series in its first three days.

Renewed for a third and fourth season, the latest instalment of the Regency drama steps away from Julia Quinn’s novels, and revolves around the Sharma family, not the Sheffield’s.

With a noticeable lack of season one star, Regé-Jean Page, the new season focuses on the eldest Bridgerton brother, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), a handsome bachelor who embarks on a quest to find a bride, leading him to meet the Sharma sisters, Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina (Charithra Chandran).

Set during the Regency period (1811-1820), the show touches on British colonialism of India at the beginning of the 19th century. The world in Bridgerton is fictionalised, but Regency-era London is considered to be accurate, as India and England were closely tied.

Fans of the show are split on the South Asian representation in the show. On one hand, the onscreen representation is refreshing but some fans of the series have called the showrunners out for inaccuracies.

Notable references include the names the sisters call each other, as Edwina uses the respectable Hindi term Didi for her elder sister, while Kate adopts Bon, a nickname translating to “little sister” in Bengali.

The pair also refer to their father as “appa”, a word translating from Indian dialects, and, while many have commented on Kate and Edwina themselves being Western names, the final episode reveals Kate’s full name to be Kathani, as said by her future husband, Anthony.

Co-founder of Independent publishing house Fox and Windmill, in Bradford, Sara Razzaq, said: “I think it’s great that there is South Asian representation in the adaptions. Having read the series the onscreen adaptions provide a diverse cast which is the key to the success of the series, as it is making a relatable space for viewers through the characters.

“There is also a South Asian soundtrack being used in season two along with cultural traditions which are refreshing.”

Here are some of the reactions to season two of Bridgerton.

One Twitter user said: “Just finished Bridgerton season two and I really loved how they showed baring of expectations on older siblings, especially an older sister, the amount of South Asian representation and the appreciation of culture and language, and of course, Kathani, she was my favourite.”

Another social media user said: “All the little pieces of South Asian culture sprinkled in were so well done. Like oiling hair, making chai with whole ingredients, the Haldi ceremony, and the bangles Kate wore. Add in K3G as background music, it was surreal seeing it in a Hollywood show.”

A user going by the name Karm, said: “LMAO, I love how Kate casually just throws shade on how bad English tea is compared to South Asian Chai.”

Amaal Akhtar shared on Twitter, “It’s difficult to pick a favourite clumsy Indian reference on Bridgerton [season] 2, but mine’s gotta be Edwina asking Anthony if he has read “Guhleeb”.

Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, who went by his pen name, Ghalib, is known as the greatest Urdu poet, the last of the great Delhi poets, who didn’t reach success until much later on in life – and not as a teenager as the show suggests.

A pharmacist from Bradford said on Twitter: Not convinced by this. How is this representation when they’re called Edwina and Kate, and are telling a very white story? I don’t know, just feels off somehow.”

Professor Sunny Singh, author of the fiction book Hotel Arcadia, and the co-founder of Jhalak Prize, said: “So Bridgerton season two casts two South Asian women in major roles, gives their characters the last name Sharma, they supposedly speak Marathi and Hindustani but they call their father ‘appa’, and the older sister calls the younger one ‘bon’. Confused much?

What do you think? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

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