Who is Lady Whistledown from Bridgerton?


Netflix appears to have found a hit with it's latest Regency romance, Bridgerton, which premiered on Christmas Day. Produced by Shondaland, it is the first project to be released from the lucrative deal with Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder.

The series follows the Bridgerton family as they are wrapped up in the marriage season of London high society, with each eligible debutante presented to Queen Charlotte. In true Gossip Girl fashion, a certain Lady Whistledown is on the case to inform on any scandal that befalls any of the members of the ton. Narrated by Dame Julie Andrews, the identity of the reporter is kept anonymous for the duration of the season and with an array of characters suspected as the culprit, it is equal parts a mystery series and a romantic drama. 

The rest of this article contains major spoilers from Bridgerton

Throughout the eight episodes, we witness Lady Whistedown expose several mishaps among the characters. The first issue of the column that we see in the series names Daphne Briderton as the "Incomparable", suggesting that she is the one to watch during this particular season. To the dismay of the Queen, this high praise is swiftly retracted when a distant cousin of the Feathrington family, Marina Thomson, overflows their house with eager suitors. Arguably the first true scandal results from the scheming of Lady Danbury and Lady Bridgerton as they work to expose Nigel Berbrooke's secret son, which renders his engagement to Daphne moot. 

Queen Charlotte, played eloquently by Golda Rosheuvel, is meanwhile determined to learn the true identity of Lady Whisteldown and even recruits the help of Eloise Bridgerton, who jumps at the chance to hunt down the mysterious writer. 

Lady Danbury and Simon from Bridgerton still
 © Netflix

We are presented with many suspects, with Benedict Bridgerton even accusing Eloise herself. Her behaviour of trying to break out of the traditional mould of the family was definitely enough for the viewers to believe that she drummed up a secret profession. Lady Danbury also appeared to have a huge motive, as she schemed, observed and enjoyed the gossip. We even spend a short while thinking of Madame Delacroix as the culprit, but after she doesn't say much to dissuade Eloise's thinking that it's not her, it clears her of any charges. That's too obvious, right? We can likewisego as far as to say that she could possibly know the real identity herself.

Ultimately, it is Penelope Feathrington who takes off the hood at the end of the episode. Seeing as this is only Season One of the promising franchise, was this reveal premature? Other similar series that contained such a reveal, usually hold off multiple seasons before dropping the bomb. We learned the identity of Gossip Girl in the series finale and similarly, on Pretty Little Liars there were so many reveals, there was a dire need for a diary to keep track. 


Eloise and Penelope from Bridgerton still
 © Netflix

If there are to be further series of Briderton made (UPDATE: Season 2 is now confirmed), it seems to be a rash decision to waste an epic reveal at such an early stage. On the one hand, it was the cherry on top for the very satisfying finale that planted just enough seeds of unanswered questions, without leaving us more confused than ever. Daphne and Simon are finally content in their lives, Marina saved her reputation and Colin has set off on an adventure as he always wanted. Those are very complacent endings of the respective character arcs. 

Knowing Penelope is responsible for all the scandal sheets was actually the perfect punchline, exposing her as the most underrated and devious character. It takes guts to throw your whole family under a carriage and watch from afar as the world burns. It is very possible that she wanted to take revenge for all those yellow dresses. The reveal is also a great pre-text for normalising rooting for less conventional and less selfless role models, we were presented with a very layered character. Instead of submitting to her situation of being the outcast in the family, she took matters into her own hands and outsmarted them all. That's very inspiring. Going forward, the audience is now in on the secret and if anything that will make the viewing experience more chaotic. 

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