Watching ‘Bridgerton Season 3’ I Realized… I Am Penelope Featherington

Dearest readers,

If you’re at all acquainted with the content I write for this fine TV + Movies section of Thought Catalog, you may have noted my excitement for Bridgerton Season 3. Truth is, I’d not only never seen a single episode of the smash hit Netflix romance series (aside from the brief rundowns of commentary YouTubers), but I’ve never read any of the books. Why then would I be so excited for this season when I never had any interest before? It’s not for the Regency era shenanigans or the beautiful dresses or the stunning Shondaland storylines. For me, it’s because of Penelope Featherington.

I have an active imagination. I can see myself in most romantic comedy leads if for nothing than my immense hopeless (“hopeful?”) romanticism. When someone finally professes their love for the main character, my heart swells, living vicariously through them despite not being the same in the same economic bracket or race or body type, the list goes on. And maybe I’m good at that because I’ve never truly had anyone to relate to. If I wait for a rom com heroine to be exactly like me before I can swoon over her happy ending, I fear my streaming queues would remain empty.

But then I heard about Bridgerton Season 3. About a girl who likes books and can’t help but fall for men who never look her way. Who yearns to have a cadre of suitors like the other women in her society. And, most of all, a woman who looked just like me. Not the smooth, toned body I’ve been told my whole life is the only suitable way to be loved. Instead, a girl who was bigger. Who was cast aside for her size.

Finally, I saw someone like me.

In the leadup to the first part of this season coming out, I couldn’t get enough of the press for the show. Lead actors Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton having knowing glances in real life as if to say “this doesn’t have to be a fantasy.” The official trailers that promised heat and longing that doesn’t normally get reserved for the fat girls. And I ate it up.

So, on May 16, the release day for the first part of Bridgerton Season 3, I watched with bated breath, excited to finally see myself in a romance. And I did. And it made me deeply sad.

I’ve felt Penelope’s reality. I have been the one on the wall, not getting picked. I’ve watched as my prettier, more “normal” friends got chosen ahead of me. I’ve noticed that I’ve been an afterthought. That I could only be seen as the “friend,” and never the romantic interest, the sexual prize. As Penelope dipped deeper and deeper into despair as she gained further and further proof that she was unwanted and undesirable–even after getting a killer makeover and looking absolutely stunning, by the way–I too was reminded of that feeling of being unwanted and undesirable. My tears were as much for me as they were for her. I ached not because I understood her despair, but because I felt it, too.

Maybe the consequence of finally seeing myself in a main character is that I have to feel all the bitter, self-hatred-affirming feelings that the main character does. Penelope Featherington believes that she will die alone, that she will never be chosen, that she will always watch from the wall as life and love moves on without her. That the mere idea that someone could dream of being with her is beyond laughable.

I am Penelope Featherington.

By the end of the first part of Bridgerton Season 3, Penelope is finally getting proof that she can be desirable. That someone could want her. And someone wonderful at that. Penelope Featherington doesn’t have to wait on the wall. She doesn’t have to die alone. She doesn’t have to be unloved, unwanted, undesirable.

I am Penelope Featherington.

And I hope we both get our happy endings.

Trisha’s your resident tarot reader, rom-com lover, and horror connoisseur. In addition to using her vast knowledge of all things cinema for Thought Catalog’s TV + Movies entertainment section, she also offers her astrological and tarot expertise to Collective World. Trisha splits her time between making art and being awesome.

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