Why Penelope Was The Exact Lead ‘Bridgerton’ Needed In Season 3


For all of us who have been desperately waiting for the return of Lady Whistledown for three years, it did come as quite a surprise that the show was adapting Colin Bridgerton’s story before his elder brother Benedict’s. Well, the reasoning for this choice might be because of a certain direction the elder brother’s storyline has taken; this allows room for the plot to thicken for Penelope Featherington, who we’ve grown to adore so dearly. Despite the revelation that Penelope was the gossip monger herself, there was no reason to dislike the character because it seemed like the most practical thing for her to do. So what if Penelope is sharing the town’s gossip when everyone’s talking about everyone anyway? She’s doing them a favor, no? Penelope’s character arc has gradually gone from a confident and secretive woman to an insecure wallflower who has no prospects and no hope. Penelope’s story is quite relatable to a lot of viewers. Unlike Daphne and Kate, she doesn’t demand attention, nor does she wish for it. She simply wants enough attention to attract a suitable suitor and live a happy life, somewhat similar to Amy from Greta Gerwig’s Little Women

Penelope being the lead in Bridgerton is certainly most relevant today because of how she’s treated by the ton for not fitting in. She’s a reader (how dare she), doesn’t fit the beauty standards of the world, and keeps to herself. The only friend she ever had was her neighbor Eloise, and when she found out that Penelope was behind the glossy gossip sheet that stirred up the ton, she decidedly became resentful toward her. To add to the heartbreak, it is Cressida who replaces Penelope as Eloise’s new bestie and confidant, the same woman who loves to treat Penelope like an invisible doormat. Being alone without marriage prospects is one thing, but being lonely without any friends is truly disheartening. So, of course, on her return in the new season, the only thing Penelope could think of was to give herself a makeover, get rid of the ghastly yellow gowns her mother put her in, and take charge of herself. 

It seems the new season calls for a new debut for Penelope, but she doesn’t really change; the makeover simply enhances her beauty, using the right colors and styles that suit her rather than making her look like a completely different person. All Penelope needs is a nudge, not a transformation. To everyone’s surprise, mostly her own, it actually does work, though not exactly as she hopes. Penelope is more practical than we think. I mean, she’s been making a fortune for herself as the most well-established writer of the ton; surely she expects a spinster’s life; however, that’s not what she’s going to get, is it? However, when it comes time to try and talk to people, she finds herself tongue-tied and flustered because it’s so rare for her (introverted problems, amirite?). 

When Colin tries to make amends with Penelope, not knowing what he’s done wrong (as usual), she tells him how she overheard him brag about how he’d never court her. I suppose Colin doesn’t intend to be rude; he might be as nice as they come and probably said it as a response to their long-lasting friendship from childhood. He then proceeds to tell Penelope that he’s proud to call her his friend and is in no way ashamed of her. Then he promises to help her find a husband because he doesn’t appreciate seeing her so down. Now, we know Penelope always believed it was unrequited love toward Colin; this just makes matters worse, no? 

In Colin’s lesson to Penelope, he tells her the most important thing about finding love is to be true to herself. Because she’s so unconfident, she’s invisible; however, simply revealing her actual thoughts and her real personality would make her step away from the shadows and into the light. For someone like Penelope, this is quite the ordeal, and though it doesn’t work at first, she finally finds an oddball such as herself in Lord Debling.

Penelope becomes despondent when her prospects are ruined, thanks to the whole ton learning about her getting help from her friend, the bachelor of the season, Colin Bridgerton. In her desperation, she asks Colin to kiss her because she believes she’ll never be kissed in her life if she goes on like this. See, Penelope feels so terrible about herself that she has to beg to be kissed because she expects to spend her whole life alone in a world where marriage is the only prospect. However, rightfully for her, that one kiss changes Colin’s perspective towards Penelope, and she deserves nothing less. What is more troublesome about Penelope’s story is not her courtship but her friendships. She’s won over Colin, but what happens when he learns that she’s Whistledown? We know he’s sworn to ruin the life of the person who wrote terrible things about his family and about Penelope (whoops). 

At the end of the day, Penelope’s story is one for those who live in the shadows. For those who struggle with seeing themselves differently from what the world expects of them. Yes, Bridgerton is fantastic escapism, but when you get to see a woman like Penelope get her romantic happy ending, it really encourages other wallflowers to at least step into the world as confident people. Despite Bridgerton being a story about the eponymous family themselves, Season 3 takes a new approach, steps away from the romance, and gives more depth to the series by putting Penelope at the center of it all. It is, without a doubt, her pleasure and her happiness that we so yearn for. That is why she is the lead we so needed for Bridgerton.

Now, even if the “Polin” pairing isn’t your favorite or if this season is not Bridgerton’s best, it’s certainly different, and it also somehow feels the most heartwarming of them all. However, we are yet to see how far that’ll last. But, to me, to see Nicola Coughlan carry this show all by herself is a win in itself, and I can’t wait to see what June 13th will bring us. 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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