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The Alternate History of Bridgerton

Hendryk

Nothing ever ends
Published by SLP
Location
France
I was unfamiliar with the Dunmore thing, I definitely see how it could make a fascinating POD.
 
I've been aware of the question of Queen Charlotte having some African blood via her Portuguese ancestors for several years, via academic articles about reasons for her facial features seeming to indicate this possibility. I have explored the idea of the UK Royal Family picking up a mixed-race bride in the C18th myself in my ebook 'Bonnie King Charlie', but via one of George III's racier younger brothers (Henry Duke of Cumberland) marrying a West Indies heiress on a trip to the WI before the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 clamped down on which marriages were legal and the King thence had to ratify them all. I was taken by surprise by the 'Bridgerton' series' imaginative reinterpretation of this as a way of showing a historical situation where there was some African-American input into the British aristocracy , not having heard of any of the books . My own guess when I saw trailers of the series was that either:
1. this was a straightforward case of colour-blind casting to widen the cast , or in Alt Hist terms:
2. this was an exploration of how some 'mixed ethnic origin' sons or daughters of white West Indian planters by their black mistresses could have inherited their fathers' fortunes and then used this as a 'lever' to get into British high society via the power of their money, as the (white but non-elite) 'nabobs', the self-made 'new rich class' of the East India Company who'd made fortunes, out of India, did in later C18th Britain, to widespread satirical comment. In real life the 'nabobs' bought up Parliamentary seats in the 'rotten boroughs' era and then had the political influence to secure titles, govt jobs, and heiresses from the Court and the ministry; might the equivalent from the West Indies done the same, had there been a concentrated 'push' by a substantial group of people in this position?

As far as Shonda Rhimes series go, I certainly thought of her previous, political blockbuster, 'Scandal',as a sort of Alt Hist series - albeit a rather far-fetched and over-the-top one. A turbo-charged version of a charismatic and tricky but deeply selfish, promiscuous, risk-taking and sleazy President, like a mixture of JFK's good and bad traits with the latter on top plus a dash of Richard Nixon. Taking some real characteristics and some gossip about genuine Presidents and carrying this to unlikely extremes, in a 'soap opera' manner? A mirror-image (bad rather than good coming out on top) of 'The West Wing', which was far saner and less sensational and which I was a fan of - in TWW we had a liberal fantasy of a President with the best qualities of FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Clinton in charge of the US when in real life we had Bush junior. But I thought that 'Scandal' was too soapy by far, its characters were deeply unlikeable rather than just flawed, and it missed a lot of opportunities in the interests of a hyper-charged, over-complex, and always cynical storyline. Why have a 'heroine' who was so badly flawed and unsympathetic?

One Alt Hist / Culture idea. Can we get a political TV drama show that combines the more realistic and less crusading side of West Wing and a less sensational Scandal - rein in the executives and the ratings obsession (and the advertisers?) and put the writers in charge? Have a super-rich and successful writer of an international 'hit', with the cash to dominate the company that makes the shows and determine its policy without a need to satisfy the money men? If this was done, can we get an Alt Hist version of TV political drama and tweak how various past series might have developed?
 

Thande

Jabs First Brexit
Published by SLP
I haven't seen the series, but from the description it seems like the basic problem is that (as I've written about in LTTW) in the eighteenth century it was typical to have a one-off example of something that wasn't regarded as a challenge to the status quo and wouldn't challenge the broader values of society; it wasn't like the nineteenth century where people started acting as though everything had to be internally consistent. E.g. you can't just turn up with a bunch of sepoys to smash up somebody's palace and steal their diamonds because you feel like it anymore, you have to come up with some elaborate Scientific Racism theory to explain why actually that's morally acceptable don't you know. Queen Victoria having a black consort might change society, but I doubt King George having one would.

To go for a more direct comparison, George II's consort, Caroline of Ansbach, grew up essentially as a poor refugee, but that didn't make the later royal court any more sympathetic when e.g. expelling the Acadians from Nova Scotia. Obviously there's plenty of more recent examples as well, like the number of dissidents who spend years in prison, then become leader and promptly start acting pretty much the same as the dictatorship that imprisoned them.
 
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