- Bridgerton -An Ode To Lady Danbury, 'Bridgerton's MVP
Bridgerton: come for the sex, stay for our new TV icon Lady Danbury. Netflix's new Shondaland production would have you believe that it's all about Lady Whistledown's dramatic musings or Daphne and Simon's tumultuous love affair. But, the real star of Bridgerton is Lady Danbury, a.k.a., the best character in in the show.
Lady Whistledown might describe Lady Danbury, played by Adjoa Andoh, as a woman who is not to be trifled with. I might call her a boss bitch. Single, rich, and fabulously dressed, she's the smartest person in London — aside from Lady Whistledown herself — and she knows how to take control of society, even though, as a woman, she has relatively little power in it. (She's also crucial to Daphne and Simon's courtship, as she's the one who first suggests their pairing after Lady Whistledown's first few scandal sheets.)
As much as watching Bridgerton made me fantasize about falling in love at a lavish ball and dancing the night away to a classical cover of "thank u, next," it also made me want to do everything I can possibly do be Lady Danbury when I grow up.
Early in the season, Lady Danbury proves herself to be observant, calculating, and generous — in her own, special way. Her desire to see Daphne and Simon together, for example, is presented as a way to thwart Lady Whistledown, but Lady Danbury only suggests it after seeing how Daphne has lost the Queen's favor, suggesting that she also doesn't love how the monarch can determine a young woman's fate with one look of disappointment.
In the flashbacks of Episode 2, "Shock and Delight," that show her swooping in to take a young Simon under her wing despite his father's wishes, we see that Lady Danbury has been rebelling against the ruling class for quite some time. As she explains to young Simon, instead of being intimidated by those in power, she has decided to make herself intimidating, regardless of status or gender. "I made myself frightening," she tells him. "I sharpened my wit, my wardrobe, and my eye, and I made myself these most terrifying creature in every room I entered."
This isn't to say that Lady Danbury isn't high status — she is probably one of the most free and powerful women in the Bridgerton world. But, as a woman without a husband, she is expected to adhere to the rules set by those placed above her in society — i.e. men and literal royalty. And it's that expectation which she defies again and again. She's not afraid to put Simon in his place. Even when she addresses him as "Your Grace," there's no doubt of who is really in charge.
And we haven't even gotten to her ladies nights for married women, where she invites women for a night away from their husbands, full of gambling, drinking, and gossip. With her wealth and status, Lady Danbury has chosen to create a safe space for married women free from society's patriarchal expectations. Just as she was willing to extend a hand to Daphne when the Queen dismissed her, she opens her home to the women of London. She's using her privilege to help others. Sure, she's helping other fabulously rich ladies of society, but everyone is entitled to a little bit of debauchery now and then.
It's unclear how Lady Danbury might play into a potential Season 2 of Bridgerton. She's not a member of the Bridgerton family, and she has no sons (that we know of) to potentially marry into the family, which might make her less relevant to future romances. However, it's my hope that she sticks around, perhaps as a close friend of Dowager Countess Bridgerton, or as an ally of Lady Whistledown. Funding for the original scandal sheet must have come from somewhere, after all. Whatever happens in the future of the series, one thing's for sure: Lady Danbury is my whole 2021 mood board. May she inspire us all to be fierce and terrifying.
Image: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX