The Premise: The show follows the Bridgerton and Featherington family through the eyes of the anonymous writer Lady Whistledown. In particular, the story revolves around Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hasting Simon Basset's complex relationship along with the drama surrounding the royal city.
Characters in Question: Lady Danbury, Marina Thompson and Queen Charlotte
Does it Pass the Kent Test? Uh...
1. The character should not solely be a walking stereotype/trope.
Score: 1 point
From the start, Bridgerton showcases a diverse cast at every level of the fictitious royal world. Whether it was the servants or the Queen’s entourage, BIPOC women weren’t glued to one position. For a moment, I rolled my eyes at the thought that women of color were only going to be the help, until I saw Lady Danbury and Queen Charlotte as prime examples of Black women in high power.
2. The character should have their own plot/narrative arc.
Score: 1/2 point
I’m fully aware that this show is about the Bridgertons and the Featheringtons. Also, it’s the first season, so we have plenty of time to dive into Lady Danbury and Queen Charlotte’s stories. We saw a glimpse of the relationship between Queen Charlotte and King George III, but I still don’t know them well enough to say they have an entire storyline catering to the plot. Both women were almost like puzzle pieces in the overall plot to get Daphne and the Duke (or, in the case of the Queen at one point, Daphne and the Prince) together.
However, I give this section a half-point because Marina Thompson was close to having her own plot, but I’m wary to give a full point, since her story is a bit problematic (which I’ll explain in more depth in the next two sections).
3. The character should not be included for the purpose of “holding down” some male character and his story.
Score: 0 points
From the moment Lady Danbury and the Duke interact, it’s clear that she’s only there to be a guiding figure for him. (His childhood flashbacks are further evidence that this is true.) She’s always scolding him when he’s not fighting for Daphne and throwing elaborate parties to, again, get him closer to his goal of being with Daphne. Lady Danbury is a parental figure, but will the next seasons explore who she is without the Duke? Like, I need to know more about her married-only events and how she became such a badass.
And let’s be honest about Thompson’s character: Her whole storyline revolved around finding a husband to hide her pregnancy. Her character really took a left turn when she received a ‘letter’ from Sir George. She turned manipulative and relied on Colin Bridgerton to solve her problems. After the secret was out, Thompson was the villain and Bridgerton left a sad man. However, it didn’t take long for him to still live out his dream as a traveler and Thompson (like most of the characters on Bridgerton) to marry for convenience (even if it was her dead lover’s brother).
4. The character should not be included in the narrative to prop up a white woman character and her story.
Score: 0 points
Again, Thompson’s character was there to cause problems. She was an issue the moment she started receiving suitors over the Featherington girls. Thompson became a bigger problem when they found out she was pregnant. She was treated as less-than by Baroness Featherington and overall, seemed like a burden to the family and their name. Once her secret was out, it basically tarnished the whole family, and when she was finally sent away, it seemed like all was restored. Did I mention that in the beginning of the season, she barely (barely) had a speaking role? Thompson was there just to make them look like good characters (when most of the time they were not).
Oh, and let’s not forget when she tried to kill her child after her secret came out (which Penelope released). And um, excuse me, why didn’t Thompson call out the Baroness for ruining her life by giving her a false letter?!
5. The character should not exist for the purpose of fetishization.
Score: 1 point
Despite Thompson receiving a bunch of suitors (good or bad), she was never once fetishized because of her race. The show does a good job at showing diversity but not homing in on the differences. Race is not an issue nor a storyline that treats the women of color like objects on the show.
6. The character should have at least one interaction with another woman of color. A bonus point will be given if both characters aren’t related in any way.
Score: 2 points
If we’re talking about all of the characters (including side or extras), then points all around. But, when you only have three main characters that are women of color, it’s pretty limited. Lady Danbury and the Queen only interacted briefly, but if you blink, you’ll miss it. Not once did they interact with Thompson, which played on the fact that she was an outsider who didn’t belong there. As for Lady Danbury and the Queen, I’ll give them the point (but that’s a bit generous on my part).
7. The character must not be the go-to character “sacrificed” in a film/tv show.
Score: 1 point
As mentioned before, Thompson caused disruption and ruined the Featherington’s name. Once she left (and ultimately set for a life she didn’t want), they saw light at the end of the tunnel (though the last episode said otherwise). Basically, she “sacrificed” her happiness for the sake of restoring their standing in society and marrying her ex-lover’s brother.
Kent Test Total Score: 4.5/8
The Bottom Line: Overall, Bridgerton gets 4.5 out of 8 points and stands as a show containing “middling to fair representation” for women of color. While the show is inclusive, the storylines given to these characters say otherwise. My hope is that we see these characters grow in the upcoming seasons and add even more women of color to main roles (and not for the purpose of causing catastrophes).