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When Will Bridgerton Do Right By Lady Danbury?

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Spoilers ahead. In the Bridgerton universe’s game of high stakes romance, Lady Agatha Danbury (played by Adjoa Andoh) is one of its most important players. For three seasons, we’ve watched her sit on the sidelines of every romantic pairing, advising the leads on what’s fair — and not – in the regency-era game of love and warring expectations and etiquette. With Simon, The Duke of Hastings, Lady Danbury was the one telling him to wake up and be the man she knew he could be (and clumsily explaining the racial dynamics of this fictional world). In Season 2, she was responsible for introducing the Sharma sisters to London society and calling Kate out for being a fool in love with her sister’s fiancé. And most recently, in Season 3, Lady Danbury is lurking in the shadows, secretly knowing the identity of Lady Whistledown and once again supporting the Bridgertons as they find their perfect matches. She’s the best friend of Queen Charlotte and Lady Violet Bridgerton, the two women most invested in the romantic lives of the ton, and she’s watched each of them find romance of their own (Violet with her brother!). With all of Lady Danbury’s meddling and wisdom, we have yet to see her receive a proper love story of her own or get a storyline worthy of her. Instead, she’s just there to facilitate relationships for others, be a sounding board for the Queen, and act as a support system for Violet. It’s time Lady Danbury gets her due. 
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
In the Queen Charlotte prequel, we were introduced to a young version of Agatha Danbury (Arsema Thomas) and I was expecting to see the character get the epic romantic treatment the Bridgerton cinematic universe is known for. While Charlotte was standing with George between the heavens and the earth and his heart was calling her name, Lady Danbury was down bad for Violet’s father, a married man who couldn’t be seen with her in public. Lady Danbury had good sex for the first time in her life after surviving a horrible husband — I was happy for our good sis! — but that was it. I repeat, the great love of Lady Danbury’s life was her friend’s dad and she was his sidepiece. Whenever I think about this storyline, I want to throw things at my TV. Lady Danbury didn’t get a “burn for you” equivalent monologue. The man never professed his undying love for her or danced with her so passionately at a ball that onlookers had to avert their eyes because their waltz was clearly just foreplay (looking at you, Anthony and Kate). They didn’t even exchange “I love yous”! In Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, Lady Danbury was robbed of a romance that would explain why she invests so much of her time and energy into love in Bridgerton. She was robbed of a love that has sustained her for decades, the love that would inspire her to say to Kate in S2, “I have lived a life!… I have loved!” And we were robbed of watching a dark-skinned Black woman be loved wholly and fully, as she should be. 
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This season, it became glaringly obvious that Bridgerton doesn’t know what to do with Lady Danbury... Not only would it be refreshing in this world to see a dark-skinned Black woman have a proper romance (and love scenes), it would be radical to see a dark-skinned Black woman of [Andoh's] age get some.

Bridgerton was built on the promise of revolutionary romance. Through inclusive casting and race-swapping beloved characters from Julia Quinn’s novels, the series is supposed to stand in radical opposition to the overly white regency-era romances we’re used to seeing. The show has tackled race head on — to varying degrees of success — and also given us some truly beautiful love stories that have nothing to do with the color of its characters. That said, it has also failed one of its most interesting and beloved characters. This season, it became glaringly obvious that Bridgerton doesn’t know what to do with Lady Danbury. They introduced a new character in Season 3, Lord Marcus Anderson (Daniel Francis), who turned out to be Lady Danbury’s brother, a sibling we didn’t even know existed after watching a whole ass prequel series. Fine, let’s ignore the fact that Lady Danbury never even mentioned her brother in Queen Charlotte or in any previous seasons of Bridgerton. Lord Anderson arrives as a love interest for Violet Bridgerton. We watch their will-they-or-won’t-they dance all season while Lady Danbury sulks in a corner, inexplicably upset at the inevitable pairing. 
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
When we finally get the answer as to why Lady Danbury is so mad that her brother and her best friend might hook up (aside from the fact it’s her brother and best friend; Eloise has been livid about this same scenario all season), it’s because of even more trauma Lady Danbury faced as a young woman. She was attempting to run away before her marriage to Lord Herman Danbury and Marcus, then only 10 years-old, snitched and thwarted her escape. Lady Danbury’s marriage was full of disappointment and pretence as she fulfilled her societal duties against her will before becoming the independent (and rich!) woman of status and influence we know now. In an emotional conversation, Marcus admits to tattling on Agatha, but only because he wanted her to stay in their house, protected. He never told her the truth because, "I was not only in awe of you, I was afraid of you,” he says. It’s a sweet moment between siblings and I’m glad we got to see a softer side to Lady Danbury as she reconciles with Marcus. Their reconciliation leads to another heartfelt moment, this time between Lady Danbury and Violet Bridgerton. Their friendship is one of my favorites of the series, and I love that they were able to express to each other how much their bond means to them. They are older women in a world that favors youth and men, and values love above anything else. In the Bridgerton universe, marriage is the only way for women to achieve, well, anything (unless you are Penelope Featherington aka Lady Whistledown) and romance is the currency upon which a woman’s worth is traded. In that world, it’s beautiful to see two women cling to each other for support and companionship. Lady Danbury’s protection of the Bridgerton family (which we see when she convinces the Queen that the Bridgertons aren’t behind Lady Whistledown) is an act of fierce loyalty. It’s a testament to the character and proof that she will do anything for the people she loves. But she’s also being the selfless, magical, sidekick we see so many Black women relegated to in romances. Lady Danbury, with her pimp cane, lavender getups, high collars, and badass top hats, is brimming with main character energy. Only a fool would leave a character like this, played as perfectly as Andoh plays her, on the sidelines. So I ask the Bridgerton writers, are you that fool
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Lady Danbury, with her pimp cane, lavender getups, and badass top hats, is brimming with main character energy. Only a fool would leave a character like this, played perfectly by Andoh, on the sidelines. So I ask the Bridgerton writers, are you that fool? 

Next season, I would love to see the characteristics we know Lady Danbury has in spades — boldness, loyalty, vigilance, warmth, humor — applied in her own love story. Violet gets to be courted (I’m convinced they are setting up a prequel series for the character) so why can’t Agatha be the recipient of her own love match? The character has expressed that she never wants to be married again, which is fair, but that doesn’t mean she can’t find someone to match her freak in the sheets. Not only would it be refreshing in this world to see a dark-skinned Black woman have a proper romance (and love scenes), it would be radical to see a dark-skinned Black woman of Lady Danbury’s age get some. When I spoke to Adjoa Andoh last year at the NAACP Image Awards, she played coy about whether present-day Lady Danbury would finally get to partake in some of the – ahem — hornier scenes Bridgerton is known for in Season 3. “I’ll just have a call to Shonda [Rhimes] and ask her,” she said. Then, she teased us fans who were hoping to see Lady Danbury get some action in Bridgerton. “I would like to see it, and maybe she does. I can say no more!” Now we know that she was just trolling us, but it sounds like she’d be up for it. I’m sure Andoh was kidding about calling up executive producer Rhimes, but I’m not. I hope Rhimes and showrunner Jess Brownell actually give Lady Danbury something to do next season other than support everyone around her. 
My critique of this season — and of what the show has done with Lady Danbury — comes from, like everything in the BCU, a place of love. I love Lady Danbury, which is why I want more for her. I have faith in the Bridgerton writers and I genuinely loved the past two seasons of the show. Colin and Penelope’s arc from friends to lovers is the strongest love story we’ve gotten so far (even though Anthony and Kate are still my favourite) and Colin’s professions of love prove the show is currently unmatched when it comes to mushy monologues (complimentary!). Unlike the unhinged stans flooding the Netflix and Rhimes’ social media accounts with fury over the introduction of new queer characters, I’m not asking the show to be something it isn’t. Bridgerton is great because it’s flipping the book series on its head and showing that love comes in all forms, through all people. Bringing in queer love stories makes perfect sense. That is the premise we were promised and the series has delivered. I’m just asking that they apply those same standards they’ve given almost every other character to its strongest one: Lady Danbury. 
Bridgerton Season 3 is streaming on Netflix now.

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