If you are anything like me, you got hooked into watching the TV series Bridgerton Season One during the height of the Pandemic. So, when Season Two came along recently I just had to watch. Even Thom, who is not big on “period pieces” fell victim to its drama. We aren’t finished just yet with the entire season but there is enough going on that it got me thinking about why it is such a compelling story. I’ve also had lots of random thoughts about responsibility and duty as well as my personal desire to encourage everyone to follow their dreams. And lest you think they aren’t connected, let me share with you how I think it causes us to consider those issues in our own lives and hopefully make better choices.
In case you have no idea what Bridgerton is, it is a television drama based on a British rural aristocracy. The visual spender of the show features beautiful (and very diverse) people, lavish estates, and extremely elaborate costumes. For example, the queen is a stunning black woman who wears enormous wigs of every color, extravagant gowns and enormous jewels. The ingenues are always lovely and exude sweetness while the men are handsome and dapper. The large families are filled with a variety of temperaments and moods. And as in every good drama there are the good guys and the bad guys—but all of them do it with style.
As in the first season, there is the prerequisite challenge of bringing the two central young lovers together despite the challenges confronting them. Season two offers a unique challenge for a new set of lovers, but as always, it isn’t easy. (Else what’s the point?) Like I said, we haven’t watched the entire season, but the outcome is fairly certain. Don’t worry though, I won’t fill you in with details.
So how does any of this have anything to do with responsibility, duty and our daily lives? Well lately I have been struggling to set myself down and write a blog post. Why? Thom and I leave for an extended summer vacation in less than a week. The amount of planning (which I love) has taken longer than I imagined. It has made it difficult to sit and think about any topic (besides my upcoming travels) that I thought might be interesting enough to share. And to be honest, I just didn’t want to do it.
That hesitancy got me thinking about whether it is even feasible for any of us to imagine that we could live and never do anything that we didn’t want to do. I get that my life is extremely fortunate. Currently, I don’t have anyone dependent upon me (besides Thom) and I also have the health and financial resources for a great deal of freedom. I don’t have to write a blog post—any more than I have to do a lot of things that some people might be obligated to do. But that doesn’t mean I can just do whatever I want, whenever I want, even so. And perhaps the bigger question is, “Would I want to?”
I think many of us believe that freedom is everything. Isn’t some people’s idea of retirement like that? But while it is important to me, freedom isn’t everything. Bridgerton offers a great example. One of the minor characters is a young woman named Eloise in a very central and prominent family. From the beginning Eloise has always had a mind of her own (unusual in those times!), has an amazing amount of freedom and seems to just act from her heart’s desire. And while it is tempting to cheer her on for her free-thinking mind and choices, in the latest episode that freedom and her choices have dire consequences for both herself and her family. Freedom does come at a cost.
So, while I have a lot of freedom in my life, I know that I choose to do certain things because they are good in the long run. I exercise, try to eat healthy and stay away from sugar, and brush my teeth twice a day. I care deeply about my husband, friends and family and do things for them that aren’t always “fun.” Luckily, even when I don’t feel like following through, I do it anyway. If we are paying attention and hopefully have learned from the past, we know that the consequences of not doing some things carries a high price. Likewise, because my writing is important to me, sometimes it is just taking the step and doing it even when I don’t feel like it.
On the flip side of freedom is duty and that is also playing a major role in this season of Bridgerton. One of the central characters is a young man driven by his family role as elder son and his own self-imposed obligations. In fact, it is his sense of duty that is creating more of a crisis in the long run than any of his more positive desires to protect his family. By portraying how duty can be as much a prison as too much freedom, the drama swings back and forth. That reminds me that for most of us, our sense of duty is a choice that we have the ability to clarify and adjust when necessary. Knowing when to do that is a key.
In Bridgerton the young lovers are full of passion for one another and skillfully drawn together and torn apart on numerous occasions. That, after all, is part of the drama that makes the series so successful. There’s little doubt that they won’t end up together, but the fun is seeing how it will play out. Then again, I’m reminded in my own life that passion and drama can throw us off course as much as it can serve to bring us together. Staying conscious about freedom, duty and our underlying values is always important when passion is involved.
I admire writers that can spin a good story and present it in a way that takes you into another world. But in my opinion the best ones also weave in examples that all of us can use in our lives. There are many more themes in the show that could be used as life lessons, but for now these were enough to make me think. Oh, and I was able to write a blog post that I actually enjoyed doing at the same time. Perhaps it is SMART to always remember that when you choose to do something even when you don’t want to—you still get to make it up!
Freedom, duty and passion are definitely part of our everyday lives in one way or another. I have never seen the show however it sounds like some of the other ones I have stumbled across. They definitely give you a different perspective on things.
As the dutiful eldest daughter 🙂 I had to come to terms with duty and responsibility early on. And, you are correct, we do things for the betterment of our family or society as a whole. Even if they aren’t the most exciting or interesting tasks, they still need to be followed through on, don’t they?
I love the analogy of the young woman who seems to have all the freedom in the world, which leads to some dire consequences for her family. That’s a very true statement about life and some people’s views. Often, they don’t realize how their freedoms can impact someone else’s freedoms.
I couldn’t agree more we get to choose how we view ourselves and our duties and responsibilities. Wrapping up with saying we should embrace it rather than being trapped is a perfect way to sum everything up.
Have a fantastic extended summer vacation!! Looking forward to hearing about it, seeing some pictures, etc. I’m sure you and Thom will have a wonderful time! Thanks for another great post and enjoy yourselves!!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Debbie! I didn’t know you were the eldest daughter! I’m a middle but in many ways I mimic the eldest. Still, I think the show demonstrated that all that obligation and responsibility can be a real burden. And as it turned out, backfired big-time on the major character. And perhaps more interesting, the rest of the family didn’t necessarily want it (or need it) but it was so habitual it was difficult to step away from. Like so many things it really comes down to finding out the “real” motivation behind our actions and then the awareness to decide if that motivation is in service to those we love or just habit, don’t you think? Of course a television show isn’t real life so sometimes hard decisions must be made, but like you say, it comes down to how we view ourselves and our duties and responsibilities. Thanks as always for your thoughts!
And yes, so looking forward to our trip and I definitely will show photos on FB and maybe in a few blog posts! ~Kathy
Galen Pearl says
I laughed when I saw the title of this post — love this show and now you have given me such profound rationale for what might otherwise just feel self-indulgent, not that there is anything wrong with a healthy dose of self-indulgence!
Your observation about doing things for friends and family that might not be our first choice of how to spend our time reminded me of an argument I had years ago with someone who, to be brief, wanted to be paid for voluntarily doing something for a family member. Their justification was that they were doing something they would not otherwise choose to do, for the benefit of the family member who wanted to do it.
My response was that if I had gotten paid for all the things I didn’t want to do but nevertheless willingly did for others (think standing in the freezing cold rain at my daughter’s lacrosse practice), I would be a billionaire! We all would.
So, as you said so well, can we acknowledge the choices we make freely for the benefit of others, and change our attitude to embrace our duty rather than be trapped by it?
Loved this post! Enjoy your vacation!! I look forward to your travel photos and insightful reflections.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Galen! I’m happy I was able to provide you with some rational for a bit of self-indulgence. And I’m guessing you are a lot like me and can find a life lesson or at least an observation in just about anything and everything. It makes life more fun don’t you think?
And thank you for the personal example of how we commonly do things for others we care about even when we don’t want to! And I can’t help but believe many of us do the same for our bigger communities including the planet herself. Besides, isn’t awareness of the paradox of life part of what gives it the most meaning? After all, pleasure wouldn’t be that pleasurable if there was constant pleasure. We need the contrast to remind us of how good it can feel. Like how I threw the yin/yang dance in there again 🙂 If we (I!) can only learn to remember it and be aware of it more often, the more I can learn to embrace the choices. Thanks for that insight.
And yes, I’m hoping to share a bit of my trip with everyone….something like, “Travels with Kathy?” hahaha… ~Kathy
Janet Mary Cobb says
Always enjoyable to read your posts Kathy. I watched the first season but am not watching the second – as I’m focusing more on projects I’d like to finish. That said – I enjoy your insights into the life lessons the show can offer. And safe travels this summer! Just a note that by the time you return, I will have likely left WordPress for my blogging platform and will be hosting all of my writing from my website. I’d love for you to subscribe if you’d like. I don’t have it all set up yet but I’d love to add you to my subscriber’s list when it is ready.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Janet! Good for you for staying on focus with your projects. After a long day I find it nice to unwind with a bit of entertaining fluff now and then. And yes, for sure I will subscribe to your new blog once you’ve got it all set up. Looking forward to reading about your life and thoughts again. If I don’t catch it myself, send me an email. I will of course have my laptop with me on our travels! ~Kathy
Gary Lange says
We watched all of Bridgerton and the roles and family drama are captivating. No matter what our “roles” we do get to live our own ways.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Gary! As a therapist I’m sure you had a field day analyzing all the different “roles” that are covered in Bridgerton, didn’t you? They are indeed colorful aren’t they? We finished the last episode last night and there were a few loose ends I wasn’t thrilled with, but overall it is a lovely distraction for those of us who enjoy that sort of thing. Thanks for your thoughts. ~Kathy
Happy travels, Kathy. Thanks for giving me another way to think about the show. Hubby won’t watch it with me so it’s fun to hear someone else’s thoughts. I love the way the show plays with reality, from race relations to gardens (e.g., wisteria ALWAYS blooms in the Bridgerton gardens!).
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Annie! Yes the show is definitely a bit of fluff but I agree that the twist on some of our more established thoughts on reality are brought into play in clever ways don’t you think? As you say, showing different races in privileged, powerful and beautiful roles is one of them for sure. And they also seem to have no problem changing the weather to suit the “scene” as well either! For those of us who can handle romantic drama it sure creates a visually lovely world! ~Kathy
Donna Connolly says
Hi, Kathy – I have never watched Bridgerton, but the essential life questions that you have drawn for it are good ones. I agree with you that responsibility and duty often involve more choice than we first imagine. As you wisely point out, knowing how to clarify and adjust are key.
Enjoy your travels – and please keep us posted. I look forward to following!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Donna! I know you seldom watch television but if you are ever “forced” to do so :–) this Bridgerton would be one I think you’d enjoy. And yes, I do hope to pop in now and then with a post during my travels (if I’m not too distracted of course!) Thanks for the encouragement! ~Kathy