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Girl Power: The cast of Bridgerton dishes on why season 3 is the year of the woman

Girl Power: The cast of ‘Bridgerton’ dishes on why season 3 is the year of the woman

violet, lady danbury, charlotte and francesca
Courtesy of Netflix

PRIDE chats with Golda Rosheuvel, Claudia Jessie, Adjoa Andoh, Hannah Dodd, Ruth Gemmell & Jessica Madsen about this season’s exceptional women.

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Say whatever you will about the bodice-ripping Regency romance that is Bridgerton, but one thing it is is pro-woman. From centering our pleasure to stacking the cast full of characters full of agency and complications. This is a show by women, for women, and this is even more true in season three.

The show of course continues to organize itself around the central love story of a Bridgerton sibling; well, two actually in this case: Colin and Francesca. Meanwhile, however, three seasons and the show’s spin-off Queen Charlotte have allowed fans to get to know — intimately (pun intended) — its many, many female characters as well.

the bridgerton women

Courtesy of Netflix

From its imperious (but ultimately vulnerable) monarch Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) to its proto-feminist Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie), to its Machiavellian-with-a-heart-of-gold Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh), to its resident mean girl Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen) the women of the Ton are multifaceted, self-determining, flawed, and ultimately lovable for all those reasons.

It’s exciting and quietly radical and no one knows that better than the women who are bringing these characters to life. “I love how successful this show is because it’s just filled with women. It’s a show that’s filled with women, filled with female stories, and it’s this success that makes me feel very happy and positive,” Jessie tells PRIDE.

Eloise and francesca bridgerton

Courtesy of Netflix

This season sees Eloise struggling with a broken heart — but not because of romance gone sour. “Eloise has had a massive friend breakup, which… are sometimes harder than a romantic breakup because they last so long as friendships, don’t they, it takes a lot to pull them apart,” she shares. “So it must say something that Eloise and Penelope are having this moment because the betrayal to Eloise feels so large.”

But for Eloise, this painful chapter also means an exciting kind of growth for the character. “Ultimately, I do think it’s a positive thing because sometimes I think Eloise has lent quite firmly to Penelope and has been quite lucky to have such a good friend who listens all the time, and I think Eloise could learn how to listen. And I think she does through her new friendship with Cressida,” Jessie explains.

Cressida Cowper and her mother

Courtesy of Netflix

Speaking of Cressida, the season sees a shocking and exciting level of growth for the character who has previously been pigeonholed as a rival and a bully. This time around, the audience will get to see a new side — or sides — of the character. “She’s a few different women,” Madsen tells PRIDE with a laugh. “I do love that we see such a soft side of her and quite a youthful side as the season progresses, we see her really vulnerable and sort of desperate, and then we see her making a beautiful friendship with Eloise and what they test in each other and what they bring out in ea

Watch PRIDE’s full interview with 'Bridgerton' stars Claudia Jessie, Hannah Dodd & Jessica Madsen below

No longer on the sidelines, Cressida is ready to take control of her destiny this season — perhaps with dire consequences. “We see [her] go into full women power — well, power woman in herself, she’s in survival mode, and she’s being bold. Whether that is the right thing to do, I don’t think so. But what choice has she got?” Madsen asks. “She’s collecting a lot of energy and a lot of courage to sort of do something quite outrageous to save herself because no one else is saving her. So she takes little Cressida’s hand and tries to do her best by her. She makes a bit of a mess out of it.”

There’s a real payoff in watching this arc play out because it’s been building for two seasons. Perhaps we loved to hate Cressida in the previous season, but this time it’s hard not to have a soft spot for the young woman, who’s ultimately trying to make her way in a world that wants to tug at her and pull her into the patriarchal quicksand of the mandatory marriage market.

Francesca Bridgeton

Courtesy of Netflix

Speaking of which, while Colin may be the most eligible bachelor of the season, it’s his younger sister Francesca who’s expected to make a splash. But does she actually want to? “The audience is just getting to know her — but I think really, she’s also just getting to know herself,” Hannah Dodd, who portrays her, tells PRIDE.

“She has been kind of hiding in Bath and just disappearing into our studies and her music and everything,” Dodd explains. “This is the first time that she’s really having to take a step out on her own and find out who she is, aside from her siblings, and whether or not what comes with the Bridgerton name is something that she wants to represent. She’s just getting to know what it is that she wants.” While she may indeed be the most introverted of the Bridgertons, in keeping with the spirit of the season that won’t be standing in the way of her pursuing her heart’s desire.

Lord Anderson, lady danbury and violet bridgerton

courtesy of Neflix

Desire has always been central to Bridgerton, but as we learned in Queen Charlotte that’s not solely the realm of the Bridgerton siblings. This season may just offer Lady Violet Bridgerton to explore the possibilities of her “garden in bloom.” The impact of Queen Charlotte can be felt throughout the season, says Lady Violet herself, Ruth Gemmell. “The idea that actually, I need a little bit of love and lifein my life all of that spoke volumes when I was in season three,” she tells PRIDE.

Watch PRIDE’s full interview with ‘Bridgerton’ stars Golda Rosheuvel, Adjoa Andoh & Ruth Gemmell below.

What made filming this season of Bridgerton interesting for Gemmell — as well as Adjoa Andoh and Rosheuvel who reprised their roles in the steamy spinoff — was that they were actually filming it and Queen Charlotte simultaneously. “The weird thing was that we filmed them both at exactly the same time. So there was no kind of moment of doing it and processing it. you were kind of in it and juggling which actually kind of helped,” Gemmell recalls.

Queen Charlotte

Courtesy of Netflix

Rosheuvel agrees. “Going out of the presentation room in Bridgerton to going into the living room with my 13 children [on Queen Charlotte] one day, or in one week, it was really interesting, discombobulating,” she recalls to PRIDE. “There wasn’t any kind of, ‘oh, let me just sit here and process that.’ It was happening at the same time, which I think is a really interesting lens on life. It happens all at the same time, doesn’t it?”

Not only did their dual roles in Bridgerton and Queen Charlotte offer the audience greater insight into the hearts and minds of these characters — not to mention their, ahem, complex and intertwining familial relationships — but it adds layers of nuance and poignancy to the smaller, quieter moments we spend with them in season three of Bridgerton.

Lady Danbury

Courtesy of Netflix

“I just love the way we could be in the smallness of the stories,” Andoh tells PRIDE. “It’s just about you and yourself in the quiet moments. Those scenes lying in your bed tossing and turning, thinking about things going back into your past thinking: Do I regret that? I missed that. That was lovely. All that sort of stuff. For an actor, it’s really juicy. For these characters, to be able to take all the fragility and all the confusion and the mess of it and put it into your present day. We’re always living on several layers, aren’t we? We carry it with us. You’re four and you’re 24 and you’re 44 all at the same time.”

Shonda Rhimes

Courtesy of Netflix

It’s those moments, those quiet, intimate moments, that let us live and breathe and love the characters all the more. It’s something that too often might not be considered, or could even be cut. Andoh lays the credit for that at the feet of the show’s incredible, iconic creator Shonda Rhimes.

“Shonda wrote the whole season of the origin story. There was a sort of emotional, fabulous coherence to it. She was interested in these women, she actively proposed that she wanted to focus on them for a little bit. To have that brilliant storyteller, writing stuff for us was amazing,” says Andoh. We couldn’t agree more.

‘Bridgerton’ season three premieres today on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.

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Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.