Bridgerton is one of Netflix’s biggest shows, but it's also one of its most controversial.

Alert the ton (aka your group chat) because a new season of Bridgerton is upon us.

After its 2020 debut, Bridgerton became one of Netflix's most-watched shows and not to mention, a full-fledged cultural phenomenon.

The period drama, based on Julia Quinn's book series, revolves around the romantic lives of the members of the wealthy Bridgerton family in 19th-century London.

The first season focused on Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page). Season two followed Anthony Bridgerton's (Jonathan Bailey) enemies-to-lovers story arc with Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley).

On the latest season, Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) will get some attention, as his friendship with Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) turns into a romance.

Watch the trailer for season three. Post continues after video.

Video via Netflix. 

This is the first Bridgerton season in two years, as 2023 saw the introduction of a spinoff series titled Queen Charlotte, which relayed the blossoming love story between a young King George III’s (Corey Mylchreest) and Queen Charlotte (India Amarteifio).


Throughout its seasons, along with its love stories and steamy sex scenes, Bridgerton became known for its share of controversies and cast shakeups. We've rounded up the ones you need to know.

Bridgerton controversy: A sex scene in the first season caused controversy.

In season one, fans were enthralled by the love story between Duke and Daphne, which involved multiple sex scenes, but there was one moment that stepped over the line. After getting married, Daphne is keen to have children with Simon but he continuously pulls out before he ejaculates during sex.

At first, Simon says he is infertile but after Daphne discovers this was a lie, she climbs on top of him during sex so that he can't pull out, essentially manipulating the Duke into a non-consensual sex act.

The scene was borrowed from the book but many viewers didn't think it belonged in a modern series as it seemingly made light of sexual assault while removing Simon's right to consent.

Bridgerton controversy: Regé-Jean Page quit after season one.

In a move that turned the Bridgerton universe upside down, after setting hearts around the world aflutter as the handsome Duke on season one, actor Regé-Jean Page decided to depart the series.

"Dear Readers, while all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton’s quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings," a message from the show said.

"We’ll miss Simon’s presence on-screen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family. Daphne will remain a devoted wife and sister, helping her brother navigate the upcoming social season."


The Duke and Daphne Bridgerton. Image: Netflix. 

Cue the Bridgerton fandom screaming, crying, throwing up etc.

For his part, Page maintains he only ever signed up to do the first season of the Netflix phenomenon. "It’s a one-season arc. It’s going to have a beginning, middle, end — give us a year," Page told Variety in 2021.


"It felt like a limited series. I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit, and then the Bridgerton family rolls on."

The first season ended with Simon and Daphne in wedded bliss as they welcomed their son, Augie. But that was the last we ever saw of the Duke. Daphne had a small part in season two but then that brings us to our next controversy...

Bridgerton controversy: Phoebe Dynevor exits the series.

Following in Page's footsteps, Phoebe Dynevor dropped the bombshell she won't be featured at all in season three. "I did my two seasons," Dynevor told Variety in January.

"I’ve done what I wanted to do with that character and she had a great arc."

Since Bridgerton, the English actress' star has been on the rise so it's not super surprising she doesn't have time in her busy schedule for a few stray scenes in season three. But thankfully, she hasn't ruled out returning one day. She told ScreenRant, she could be back "potentially in the future. But season three, I’m just excited to watch as a viewer."

Bridgerton controversy: An actress claimed Netflix and Shonda Rhimes didn't offer her enough support.

Bridgerton actress Ruby Barker has made it clear she won't return to the Netflix period drama for season three.

Barker played a major role in season one as Colin's love interest, Marina Thompson, and then had a smaller role in season two. In an interview with Digital Spy, she confirmed that due to some metal health issues she'd faced in recent years, she would "probably not" return to the series.

Marina in Bridgerton. Image: Netflix. 


"Why wouldn't I return to Bridgerton?" she said. "I wouldn’t return to Bridgerton because A) it wouldn't be my choice, and B) when I did Bridgerton – obviously this is very much in the public knowledge and stuff like that – I had a mental health crisis. So whilst I was having the most amazing and most important experience in my professional life, my health was deteriorating so, so much, so, so quickly.

"It wasn't just a manageable bout of – I don't know – depression or anxiety or anything like that. I was seriously, seriously unwell, and I could not cope," she said.


"I doubt – I highly, highly doubt – that the creators of the show would ask for me, given my history, and what happened to me alongside playing that role, for me to come back and finish that storyline. It's not going to happen. I've done my bit."

The actress went on to claim that she didn't think that Netflix and executive producer Shonda Rhimes had been supportive during her mental health period of crisis.

In October 2023, Barker slammed the show on The Loaf podcast. "Not a single person from Netflix, not a single person from Shondaland since I have had two psychotic breaks from that show have even contacted me or even emailed me to ask if I’m okay or asked me if I would benefit from any sort of aftercare or support," the actress claimed.

Bridgerton controversy: Benedict's storyline raised accusations of queerbaiting.

Fans were left confused when Benedict started dating a woman in season two as in the first season, several scenes alluded to the Bridgerton brother potentially being queer.

In the first season, Benedict starts a flirtatious friendship with the artist and the Duke of Hastings, Sir Henry Granville, who is gay. Nothing happens but there was plenty of sexual energy between the men which many assumed meant that Benedict was gay or bisexual, with the expectation this would be addressed in the following seasons.

Benedict and artist Henry. Image: Netflix. 


However, by the time season two rolled around, Henry had disappeared along with Benedict's interest in men. Suddenly, he was laser-focused on Tessa, a woman from his art school. This led to some accusing the series of queerbaiting, a method of luring in an LGBTIQA+ fanbase, only to be like 'lol, just kidding'.

Showrunner Chris Van Dusen has denied that Benedict was ever intended to be queer.

"I’ve seen a lot of discussion about Benedict’s sexuality in season one," Van Dusen told TVLine. "But the storyline [of him befriending] Henry was really about tolerance in a really intolerant time, and showing Benedict in that world. I love the story in season one and would love to continue it into the future."


Okay okay, we get it. We can't have nice things.

Bridgerton controversy: The show's revisionist approach to race.

Bridgerton has been both praised and panned for how it tackled race in the early 1800s.

The show features a multicultural cast of white, brown and Black actors — including a Black woman as Queen Charlotte — but for the most part, race goes unacknowledged in the series, as if this moment in time captured a colour-blind utopia.

But then this is contradicted when Lady Danbury offers a brief history, explaining how Black people had only been socially accepted into society as recently as her own generation.

Lady Danbury and the Duke of Hastings. Image: Netflix. 


This revelation seemingly contradicted a lot of the series.

If this was true, then surely racist views and biases would still be present in the current time. Not to mention that the series stood aligned with several historical moments, yet didn't acknowledge the fact the slave trade was only abolished in England in 1813 and slavery was not abolished until 1833.

Bridgerton is set between 1813 and 1827 so it makes little sense that this moment in time would show a racially harmonious London. It can read as clumsy how the series flip-flops between historical accuracy and a revisionist approach to race in the Regency-era England.

This being said, others have praised the series for finally platforming non-white actors in a period drama, which have long been an exclusive genre for white people, as seen in every Jane Austen movie and season of Downton Abbey.

Feature image: Netflix.

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