The Courage to Live Outside Society’s Expectations
Bridgerton is a period drama set against the backdrop of London’s high society in 1813 — think Gossip Girl but 200 years earlier.
The characters’ challenges are remarkably similar to the so-called first-world problems we occupy ourselves with today. None of them suffer a shortage of food or shelter, but they all struggle with meaning and expectations.
There’s Daphne, who wants to marry for love, not status. There’s Benedict, who wishes to be an artist, not a businessman. There’s Anthony, who can’t be with the woman he loves because of her heritage.
As they prepare for event after event, everyone is watching. They’re all always watching. The queen. The neighbors. The gentleman’s club.
The judging eyes of society never close. Like rigid particles in a crystalline structure, their goal is to paralyze every participant.
If everyone’s eyes are locked on someone else, no one is free to move — and yet, each chess piece is a human, a person full of desires, dreams, and ambitions, many of which don’t satisfy society’s preconceived notions.
At one point in the show, a true artist calls out a comfortable nobleman:
“It takes courage to live outside the traditional expectations of society.”
Back then, that courage often meant risking death, be it through breaking the law or being ostracized. Today, we are lucky. Defying society seldom leads to the brink — but it still requires courage.
The courage to turn off Twitter. The courage to share something vulnerable. The courage to embrace who you are.
In 48 BC, Julius Caesar “started dating” Cleopatra. A Roman dictator in liaison with a disempowered Egyptian queen — can you imagine the scandal? Despite Caesar’s childless marriage in Rome, the two even had a child, Caesarion.
Caesar never acknowledged him in public and, in his will, declared his grandnephew Octavian as his heir. Cleopatra, however, repeatedly spoke up. She never denied the truth and demanded Caesarion be given his rightful place.
You and I can neither fathom what it was like during that time, nor what the truth ultimately was, but we can sure let her example inspire us.
1813, 2020, or 48 BC — judging eyes will always be upon us, so let’s not give a damn about society’s expectations.