Is Bridgerton the push historical romances needed?

Bridgerton. (L to R) Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in episode 201 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022
Bridgerton. (L to R) Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in episode 201 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022 /

When it comes to the book world, romance books are the most underappreciated. Yet, they are also the most targeted. The targets only get bigger when branching out into other subgenres, especially historical romances.

However, historical romance has truly seen a resurgence within the last few years. It’s due to a few factors, but most of us will point to the success of Netflix’s Bridgerton, and rightfully so. The show has managed to captivate a plethora of viewers who might have never heard of Julia Quinn before then.

Considering how popular book-to-TV adaptations have been, it’s shocking that it took this long for a historical romance series to be adapted. Historical romance is a genre that always seems to be belittled whether it’s due to the covers, the content, or just the genre as a whole. It’s frustrating for those who read and enjoy the genre.

With the rise of Bridgerton though, it’s finally time for historical romance to be respected and be enjoyed by the masses. The success of Bridgerton proves that historical romance is finally back in its heyday.

Is Bridgerton what the historical romance world needed?

Romance readers always seem to be dogged. Whether it’s because of covers with such beautiful stepbacks, bodice rippers of the early HR days, or just general dislike, the historical romance genre gets a lot of flack. But the tides are changing.

Historical romances are everywhere now due to the popularity of Bridgerton. Whether it’s recommendation lists, displays in book stores, or general conversation, the world seems to have its eye on historical romance books.

When looking at Goodreads as an example, there are lists for anticipated romance releases and there are entirely different lists for historical romances. It’s clear there is a slight divide within the romance world, but it finally feels like historical romances are done being the shame of so many. People are proud to share their covers, talk about what historical romances authors they have on their TBRs, and just generally want to talk about the genre.

But that’s not to say the genre is without its faults.  Looking at older historicals, in particular, a lot of them feature a lot of racism, sexism, and generally horrible messages within their pages. For the most part, though, the genre has changed for the better.

The world of historical romance is still saturated with lots of m/f, white love stories but the genre has expanded, too. Whether it’s a Black love story, a queer love story, or a disabled character, the genre is making slow but steady strides. As with most genres, the change has been gradual but some changes are finally being made in part to Bridgerton.

Netflix also went a different direction and changed the races of characters, making it a more well-rounded cast and series as a whole. Then there’s the fact that another historical romance, Mr. Malcolm’s List is being adapted, too. At this point, it’s finally time to accept that historical romance is here to stay and everyone should just join the party.

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