It is NYE 2020 and according to Netflix pretty much everyone in Australia is watching Bridgerton.
Stubbornly ignoring a pandemic requires the kind of stoicism only displayed by pioneer women in those films where she has to like chew her own arm off to keep her children from going hungry, then announce with dry eyes and zero sarcasm ‘You go on and eat mamma’s arm now before it get’s cold.’
Tho the 21st century may not have equipped us with this sort of self cannibalising stoicism it has armed us with a different way to cope, and it’s called cheap escapism.
Enter the Netflix adaption of Julia Quinn Romance series ‘Bridgerton’.
Featuring- candle lit balls attended by colour coordinated guests! Garden parties! Pashing! Macaroons! Escapist buttocks!
It is the tale of Daphne Bridgerton, a newly debuted ‘diamond of the first water’ who everyone keeps insisting is flawlessly lovely but to me looked like a strawberry blonde Milhouse. Seriously, winner of The Worst Bangs of 2020 award. One wonders why the sharply dressed Duke of Hastings wants anything to fucking do with her.
As an anonymous but popular gossip mag columnist brands our heroine a dud, and the bonkable Duke ‘bonkable’, the two cunningly agree to pretend to be courting so that Daphne’s value on the marriage market will go up to Prize Hog at County Fair status, and the Duke will be left in peace by all the mamma’s haranguing him to find their daughters fuckable. A solid plan, and relatable content.
**WARNING. This bit contains spoilers about how fucking stupid the show is**
While walking around being smug about their plan, The Duke helpfully teaches Daphne how to masturbate and they of course unwittingly fall in love.
A bunch of dumb shit happens in between garden parties, and there are some sub plots and stuff, but the nitty gritty is they are forced to marry even tho he has told her he has sworn off marriage as he can’t have the children Daphne apparently so desperately wants.
Cut to the dukes digs where they embark on a good natured bonk fest until our innocent/ignorant heroine notices her hubby keeps cumming in to hankies and begins to suspect something might be a bit off. After a biology lesson from her poor maid she realises it’s not that her well shod Adonis can’t have children, it’s that he won’t!
He has in fact been wilfully withholding sperm from her.
Reason being -and the whole plot hinges on this so pay attention-he vengefully swore to his dying father that he would never carry on the Hastings line.
He’s dark and tormented see. Instead of marriage and love and all that he decided he would just like, walk the earth.
Fucking and cumming into hankies.
Anyhow, it turns out alright in the end. Daphne performs a controversial but elegant Finisher Move in the sack to hold on to his semen, there’s an argument, they make up, everyone lives Happily Ever After.
Was it all laugh out loud stupid? Yes.
Did my flatmate and I nonetheless inhale it like it was Chanel no. fucking 5? Yes. Yes we did.
As contemporary Romance was now ”cool” and we’re at a unique time in history where wasting time on shit is entirely permissible, I spent the next few rainy days of the new year perusing the hallowed halls of free online fluff on the hunt for more serotonin via cheap escapist bollocks.
The Beauty of Free Online Books You’d Be Too Embarrassed To Buy From A Human
Perusing the free e book selection, I knew I wasn’t after anything with a sustained story line. Any description that said ‘Gripping’ , ‘Emotional’ or ‘Realistic characters that live and breathe’ was out. Anything that included an impoverished governess, a duke with a tortured past, or a protagonist who was a shapeshifter, was in.
Or if the cover had lots of pastels on it.
If it was set in this century I wouldn’t even consider it, and reader neither should you.
I soon discovered that the genre of free e-book Romance is generally sorted in to Regency Crap, Victorian Crap, or Scottish Highlander Crap, with the most popular by far being Regency Crap possibly on account of everyone having seen at least one version of Pride and Prejudice, but wanting a scene where Jane Austen actually used an adjective or had her ”much loved” characters fuck.
And in 21st century Regency Romance, fuck they do.
Reader, I was shocked. Let’s just say we’ve come a long way from the hero standing 2 metres away from the heroine, clenching his fists and repressing Everything. Seriously, some are just thinly disguised porn with a half arsed storyline about some guy needing to marry by the age of 27 or he will lose his earldom. If you read some journo in a Guardian article referring to Julia Quinn novels as ‘witty,’ sue them. They are lying.
And I should fucking know. In one day I’ve read a story about a reluctant Earl who inherits a beautiful feisty heroine he’s supposed to marry off but decides instead he ‘must have for himself!’ another about a maid who thinks her beloved employer may be Jack the Ripper (wow) but it turns out the weird crates that get delivered in the dead of night by gnarly looking cockneys she thinks are full of murder victims, are actually **spoiler alert ** just full of his laundry, and lastly, one about a ”plain” girl who has the gift of shapeshifting.
Yeah look, reading this last one, I got a little too involved, knocked over my drink and yelled at my laptop at 2 in the morning – ”Oh my GOD dude. She just turned in to a fucking TIGER to save you from knaves, and you’re all ”We’ll discuss this matter later”. OPEN YOUR EYES COSGROVE!”
This is something that actually happened.
Three days in to the new year I have discovered that reading/watching escapist bollocks is bad for one. I walk past 3 pubs with a mate citing Covid as my reason for not wanting to set foot in any. I do not admit that I am secretly turned off each establishment because no one in them is carrying a sword.
Said mate gets impatient and goes home. Meh. I would care, but my opinion of his character has gone down after observing he doesn’t look like he could pin a cravat to save his life. Ya know? This is what happens when you read too much shit about dudes wearing knee high boots.
In conclusion, pop culture can suddenly rant about so called witty dialogue and the welcome departure from starched, repressed tradition in favour of celebrated and unashamed female sexuality, but no one is reading this shit for any of the above reasons. It’s the same old reason Barbara Cartland sold enough paperbacks to keep her in peroxide, Spaniels, and hot pink dresses till she expired- escapism. (Good looking people fucking in nice clothes in nice places. But like, with Romance.)
But you know, go forth and indulge because the world fucking sucks right now so it’s alright and that. But much like Crystal Meth, just don’t do it for too long.
*Pssst. You want to read something that will stay with you till the grave? ‘Kill or Be Kilt’. Victoria Roberts. Category: Highlander Crap.