If you’re not among the 63 million square-eyed fanatics that have been hypnotised by Netflix’s regency drama Bridgerton since Christmas, then there’s a chance you’ve either (a) been living under a rock or (b) heard one detail about it regardless - there’s more shagging in the series than at a university freshers’ week.
Against a tree, up a ladder, on the grass next to a stately home, the show’s steamy reputation thrusts before it with fervour. Spearheaded by the sheer hotness of The Duke – this man makes Leonardo DiCaprio look like a potato – brains and bodies across the globe have surrendered to the show’s sex appeal.
But while the courtship of Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Duke Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page) is stressfully seductive, there is another, significantly more platonic, relationship that has kept us clicking ‘next episode’ until our fingers ache.
A quieter plotline than the cacophony of orgasms, the friendship between Daphne’s sister Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) is, unless you’ve somehow managed to seduce a member of nobility, the most joyfully relatable aspect of the show.
Whether sleuthing to discover who London’s anonymous gossipmonger ~Lady Whistledown~ might be, or sneaking off arm in arm at society events to figure out how babies are made, Penelope and Eloise grow up alongside each other with every scandal, triumph and revelation.
Here are five reasons why, amongst the snogging and sexual tension, Eloise and Penelope are the glue that holds the Bridgerton universe together.
They're brutally honest
There comes a point with Bridgerton when your gag reflex might activate if you watch one more kiss accompanied by a string quartet cover of a Taylor Swift song. As respite from the romance, enter Penelope’s listening ear and Eloise’s savage honesty: “Having a nice face and pleasant hair is not an accomplishment,” they mock and effortlessly trivialise the entire social season. Iconic.
They Don't judge each other
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if your friend has an older brother, you’ll more than likely fancy him. When Penelope runs to Eloise in the middle of the night heartbroken by her unrequited love of Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) she is met with nothing but sympathy despite the undeniable awkwardness. No side eyes or sabotage here.
They're based on Bridgerton author Julia Quinn
When Claudia Jessie and Nicola Coughlan met the author of the Bridgerton books, Julia Quinn, she told them their characters were the ones most like her own personality. Intelligent, outspoken, ambitious and funny - can Nicola Coughlan be our friend please?
They remind us what we're missing
On-screen sex scenes have somewhat soothed our touch-starved nation during the pandemic. But back when being closer than two metres to another person was normal, there was once another type of intimacy we enjoyed too. With every hug and hand-squeeze, Eloise and Penelope remind us what friendship was like before social media became our only form of social life. Please make the Zoom calls and quizzes stop. Please.
They're about to bring the drama
As season one of Bridgerton ended with Daphne and the Duke loved-up with their first baby, Netflix could have easily pulled a fairy-tale ending and left things there. But when the cloak dropped and the earth-shattering revelation came that Penelope was, in fact, Lady Whistledown, the tension between her and Eloise suddenly became the cliff-hanger we’re all clinging to for season two. How will their friendship navigate the betrayal? Or has the damage been done? We can’t wait to find out.
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