issue #129 - the one about Bridgerton (and opinions in general)
Before I share my thoughts on the second season of Bridgerton, I want to say just one thing:
Opinions are like a$$holes. We all have them, they’re nothing special (mine very much included), and we do not need to share every single opinion we have. I’m sharing mine after numerous requests - if this bores you, you will not offend me by scrolling by. And because I truly loved this season and am still savoring and reflecting on it, I will respectfully not be responding or engaging with others’ more critical opinions at this time - I respect them, but I feel very protective of the ‘good vibes only’ energy for things I truly love.
So keep reading or scrolling at your leisure.
I think season 2 of Bridgerton was perfect for my taste and my high expectations. Enemies-to-lovers and love triangles (decades of Bollywood, I blame you for this) are tropes I gravitate towards the most in romance and shows. The costumes, set design, hair and makeup were absolutely stunning, and I really appreciated the traditional desi colors and jewelry that Kate Sharma wore. And after so much gratuitous sex in the first season, the frustratingly slow burn between Kate and Anthony was both classic Bollywood and made this second season so unique from the first. Simone will be reprising her role in future seasons, so I look forward to seeing Kate and Anthony’s story develop further.
But I really want to talk about representation and how it showed up in this season, because it is quite special. I saw some criticism that the pan-South Asian references were inaccurate and frustrating to some (bon is Bengali for younger sister, didi is Hindi for elder sister, amma is both Telugu, Kannada and Tamil for mother, and appa is Tamil for father). Sharma itself is a traditional North Indian name, though I know some Telugu and Tamil families with that last name.
The states within India and Pakistan have their own languages (and often their own alphabet), different cuisines and music and attire and traditions. There is incredible diversity within this region that rarely gets showcased in mainstream western culture, and South Indian and Sri Lankan representation is especially lacking.
This mish-mash of familial terms was a criticism that a lot of South Asians shared, but I understood the rationale behind it. Bridgerton was the first time South Asian culture had been represented in such a global juggernaut, and I do believe taking a pan-South Asian approach was an attempt to include everyone in the region, versus representing a single state and therefore risking offense to the rest of the region. Would I have loved to see the Sharmas fully embrace Tamil culture (given that the actresses who played Kate and Edwina are Tamil by heritage)? Of course! But It was an imperfect choice that I thought the show did as well of a job they could. I’ll also share my deep appreciation of certain customs - Kate’s adding of cardamom pods and cloves to her tea to make chai, the oil head massage, the haldi ceremony - being included with no explanation or rationalization was beautifully done. And while the first season of Bridgerton was a traditional Regency romp, season two was pure Bollywood from plot development and pacing. The longing looks and little reaches and “will they or won’t they?” tense moments. The love triangle. The wealthy parents disowning their daughter for marrying beneath their self-proclaimed station. The song choices during Kanthony’s two dances. Even Kate’s bright purple dress felt like a nod to the classic Hum Apke Hai Kon, and I loved every single moment of it.
When it comes to the shows and films I watch and the books I read for pleasure, it’s to suspend my own reality and get lost in someone else’s world. I try to suspend my expectations to keep an open mind and enjoy the labor of love that so many people invest in to bring this work to life. I will confess that this mindset has helped me be more selective about what I do watch and read, and enjoy it fully. The things that aren’t for me? I’m so glad that others enjoy it, and I will happily listen to their positive thoughts and opinions of it.
Opinions may be assholes, but we don’t need to fart all over others.
While the Bridgerton books are a classic Regency romance series, I approach the screen adaptation is pure fantasy. Season 2 met my high expectations, despite its steep divergence from the book, which has me incredibly excited for future seasons.
More, more, more please. And if you are having withdrawals and need some books to read, I highly recommend reading the Bridgerton series, the Rokesbys (a Bridgerton prequel series), and the Smythe-Smith quartet - and in this order.
What I Read This Week
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean - I received the most incredible package last month - a box of books from Sarah MacLean (each book was the first of each of her series), and every book personalized with a unique note. I will treasure these books forever, and this one in particular. If season 2 of Bridgerton was too slow of burn for you, you will love Ralson and Calpurnia’s instant chemistry and inability to resist each other. I read and loved Bombshell earlier this year, and am so thrilled to have so many books in MacLean’s backlist to catch up on.
A Court of Thorns and Roses [Dramatized Adaptation] - I’m still very much living and loving the Maasverse, and have been looking forward to the release of this full-cast adaption of ACOTAR for weeks. IT. DID. NOT. DISAPPOINT. And it may be the reason I’ve found it difficult to get anything on Friday and this weekend. I highly, highly, highly recommend this if you’re new to the Maasverse or just having withdrawals like me. (Code hitha will get you 2 free audiobooks when you start a Libro.fm membership)
Top #5SmartReads of the Week
Revenge of the Patriarchs (Foreign Affairs)
The rest of the week’s reads (and conversations!) are below:
Your Questions, Answered
Mom going gray after seeing your hair! Product suggestions (esp. to make hair shine)?
I am SO HONORED by this! Thank you!
After over a decade of coloring my hair, my texture was so dry and wired so I was religious with weekly scalp massages with Ranavat’s hair serum and also use the serum as hairspray to slick down flyaways (just dip a clean mascara wand in some oil). I’ve continued this ritual and my hair has never been healthier or shinier.
I also love visiting Madison Reed between haircuts for gloss treatments! I do every other month.
Kitchen items/cookware you’d repurchase if you had to rebuild collection?
I love my Cuisinart toaster oven-air-fryer - we use it multiple times a day.
And a Nespresso machine!
Oh I see you like the Always Pan! It has some bad reviews- can you explain how you use it?
I use this pan for pasta, cheesy rice-veggie dishes, for some Indian cooking (channa saag). I’ve been diligent about cooking over medium heat and never putting it in the dishwasher, and I always put a little oil in the pan before cooking anything.
For me, it’s the perfect size/depth for most of the dishes I make. I don’t do much transfer-to-oven cooking or cook on super high heat, so it’s really been the perfect pan for me.
Would love to hear about COVID precautions your family is still taking! Thanks!
Weekly PCR tests
Masking indoors, and dining indoors sparingly (just adults)
Rapid testing before and after gathering indoors with others
The boys are still masked at school and will continue to be until Rhaki is vaccinated and transmission is low enough for our comfort.
Loving Bridgerton, Recs for similar shows (or books?) Thanks
Everything Sarah MacLean has written (she recently sent me a box of her books and I cried because she’s a fantastic writer and it was so kind!)
I loved Harper St. George’s Gilded Age Heiresses series and also weirdly obsessed with her name
Alka Joshi’s Jaipur trilogy will transport you to a North Indian court and are absolutely wonderful. Not regency romance, but just the loveliest books.
Where did you vacation recently and we’re there COVID concerns?
We went to Ambergris Cay and it was stunning and absolutely wonderful.
Turks & Caicos requires negative tests, insurance that will cover COVID care out of country, vaccines if you are old enough, and a really intense online form before you can enter the country, as well as a negative test in order to leave the country. With all those precautions, we felt very safe traveling there and back and were outdoors the entire time!
Just tested positive on rapid test, 3 year old is negative- how to keep him safe? Hubby is out of town
Wear KN95 masks around your kid to help protect him, and wash your hands and wipe down commonly touched surfaces with bleach wipes frequently.
Let him watch as much television or play on iPad or whatever you need to do to keep him occupied.
Suggestions from the community
Former infection control nurse- frequent hand hygiene is way better than gloves (can’t wash gloves at key touchpoint and improperly removing gloss causes recontamination).
I would add - keep testing 3yo! My 3yo was symptomatic and had tests negative initially when I had COVID. But to return to daycare, they needed a negative test. If you test the day before they return and they’re positive, the clock starts over for them (or it did for us). This was really disruptive for our life. Our kiddo was likely positive days before, and I caught the tail end with the positive test.
If Pfizer is first for under 5s, would you wait for Moderna?
It’s hard for me to say anything without having reviewed any data, but we plan on vaccinating Rhaki with the first vaccine for his age group.
Fave PMS dessert?
Red velvet cheesecake
Gifts for first time pregnant SIL (41)?! Thank you!
A Nesara kaftan (code Hitha gets you $10 off!)
A large insulted water tumbler with a handle and straw
Her favorite snacks
I was gifted two AWAY suitcases and one iFly carry-on, so that’s what I’ve used for the past 7 years and recommend them highly. My cousin travels nearly every week and has done so for 20 years, and he swears by this Briggs & Riley (my husband has and loves this suitcase as well).
If I were investing in a solid carry-on and traveled frequently for business, I would get this Tumi carry-on (two of my besties bought it on my recommendation and are still using it, years and years later).
Any recommendations for podcasts by brown women?
Yes! Some of my favorite are: South Asian Trailblazers, That Desi Spark, Spilling Chai Podcast, Desi Greek Girls with Swapna and Preeti Chhibber ( I want to be their best friends- LOVE this pod), Behind Her Empire, The Juggernaut Interviews, and Trust Me…I Know What I’m Doing
How do you get through the stressful moments as mom, working full time, caregiver?
Some days I can keep my cool, breathe through it, and help my kids through a hard moment with calm. And sometimes I yell and lose my shit.
I heard this somewhere and I can’t remember where, but someone said to “just add water” when things are hard.
Drink a glass of water. Give your kids some water. Splash cold water on your face, take a quick shower. Dunk your kids in the bath, set up water play for them.
I also love a quick walk (we are so lucky to live close to Central Park!), doing a tea meditation (focusing and engaging on all my senses while preparing a cup of tea), or to lie on the ground in viparita karani (legs against the wall) when I need a second and listen to a Superhuman App meditation.