From private pleasure to erotic spectacle: Adapting Bridgerton to female audience desires

Amber Davisson, Kyra Hunting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In this article, we look at how medium and genre shaped the Netflix adaptation of the first two Bridgerton novels and mediated the depictions of sex and desire to fit medium-specific expectations surrounding sexual content made for women. The showrunners for Netflix’s Bridgerton (2020–present) articulated a desire to depict sex from a female perspective, and with a ‘female gaze’, but the series is also instrumental in defining that perspective in ways that often differ from the approach of the novels’ female author. The contrast between the original and the adaptation reveals social norms and beliefs about content that excites women as well as stark differences in print and television norms. In attempting to use a female gaze, the adaptation also constructs the female gaze as distinctly separate from what is depicted in the novels and as limited to specific forms of ‘looking’. We first explore how this is implicated in choices that were made about the adaptation of violent or aggressive sex for the show. Bridgerton avoids depictions of aggression present in the novel and falls back on traditional depictions of appropriate feminine desire. Secondarily, we discuss depictions of sexual consent in the novel and the series with a particular emphasis on the implications colour-blind-casting has for the depiction of violations of consent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-25
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Popular Television
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Intellect Ltd Article.


  • Regency romance
  • colour-blind-casting
  • consent
  • female gaze
  • rape
  • sexual violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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