“My heart...and loins already start to swell with anticipation of thy beautiful body press against mine in the act of love and pleasure that awaits us this eve.”
“Make haste and bring thine buttocks into our abode!”
“I love you, my dutchess!”
These are just some of the text messages that 32-year-old Haylie Patton’s husband has sent her after the two binge-watched Netflix’s Bridgerton. Haylie said she had already watched the series once by herself when her husband of two years, Najee Patton, wanted to see “what had these women all hot and bothered.” Not only did Najee also grow interested in the show, but it also inspired the couple to add even more romance into their relationship.
“The way everyone talks on the show, everything sounds super romantic even when it's not. And so he's like, ‘Shoot, that's all I have to do?’” Haylie told BuzzFeed News. “Even before Bridgerton, I still got romantic text messages every day, they were just in modern-day English. But the show has made us a little more playful with our connection as of lately.”
“I enjoy making my wife happy and doing romantic things with her, anything that I can try to do to get a little extra smile or get a laugh,” Najee added. “It’s good that Bridgerton helps show guys that it’s OK to open up and be a little more romantic.”
Executive produced by Shonda Rhimes and created by Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton is based on the book series written by Julia Quinn and follows the children of the Bridgerton family in high-society London in the early 1800s. The first season focuses on the charismatic courtship and growing relationship between the Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), and Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor).
Since debuting on Netflix on Christmas Day, the streaming service says Bridgerton has become their most-watched series of all time with 82 million households having viewed the show around the world in its first 28 days. That’s not including all of the times fans have rewatched the series, like the Pattons, who are currently on their third viewing.
Bridgerton’s popularity has gone beyond memes and viral jokes online: Its cultural influence has spread to innumerable pieces of merchandise on Etsy, book sales are surging, and fans are feeling the impact in their own love lives.
Lynn Dula, a 48-year-old small business owner and mother of four from Virginia, said she’s watched Bridgerton dozens of times since it started streaming. In the past, Dula said, she hasn’t always been the most affectionate or romantic partner to her husband, whom she’s been with for 17 years, but her new obsession with the Netflix series helped her realize public displays of affection are “empowering and inspirational to other people.”
“The Bridgerton kids saw how their parents loved each other and that affected Daphne’s decision to marry for love. I realized it’s important for your kids to see that mommy and daddy love each other, that when we’re in the kitchen we’ll hold hands or hug each other,” Dula told BuzzFeed News. “It’s important for my 16-year-old who is starting to date to see his parents love each other and know that it’s OK for that to be a part of your everyday life. Bridgerton has made me realize this is not a taboo thing. Every time my husband tried to grab on me I used to be like, ‘Stop, the kids are coming,’ but now I know it’s important for them to see that relationship. People want to see people in love.”
The show is even having an effect on younger couples. Eighteen-year-old Jess Burgess loved Bridgerton so much she messaged her boyfriend of two months on Snapchat and asked, “Do you burn for me?” The high schooler from West Virginia was referencing the iconic speech Daphne delivers after she and the duke get married and express their deep love for each other.
Burgess’s boyfriend wrote back, “I wait anxiously every day just to see you again, if only for a moment. I feel a rush of joy and emotion every time you take my hand. I feel at peace in your presence, as if nothing could ever go wrong. I would die a thousand times to see you smile. So yes, I burn for you.”
“He didn't know I was going to ask him anything like that and at first I thought he might not respond,” Burgess told BuzzFeed News. “But he ended up responding — and honestly, I was blown away.”
After receiving the message, Burgess shared a screenshot of it with more than 50,000 other Bridgerton fans in a Facebook group, collecting more than 2,000 likes and 300 comments from people all over the world.
“I was reading through the comments and even women who have been married to their husbands for years said they don't feel like they have that sort of intimacy,” Burgess said. “It definitely feels great to give people a sense of hope for that type of romance. I feel like the show is definitely raising women's expectations.”
Bridgerton’s steamy sex scenes, which some have even described as softcore porn, are also being cited for livening up couples’ sex lives. The Pattons said they’ve been trying to get pregnant for years, which has felt daunting at times. But thanks to Bridgerton, they were inspired to get creative and channel their inner Duke and Duchess of Hastings.
“We've been trying to conceive for four years and sometimes that can start to feel like a job, but now we’ve been able to be more playful with stuff,” Haylie said. “When we got into the show, we’d joke like, ‘Let’s get the library ladder, babe.’ It’s definitely made us be more playful lately with that aspect of Bridgerton themes.”
Now Haylie is 8 weeks pregnant, and before she realized they had technically conceived days before Bridgerton’s premiere, she thought the couple had the show to thank for their firstborn.
“At first I thought, Oh, we have a Bridgerton baby,” she said.
It’s not just the chemistry between Daphne and Simon that’s turning fans on, but the sense of agency and authority Daphne’s character exhibits when it comes to her sexuality. Emanuellen Trizi, a 30-year-old from São Paulo, Brazil, said the Bridgerton books and TV adaptation are helping eliminate stigmas around how women experience love and sex, and also demonstrate that “women’s pleasure is not a crime.”
“Bridgerton shows that we like orgasms, we want service, we are sexual beings too. It's not only about the man’s pleasure, women want pleasure too we want to be pleased,” Trizi said. “They flip the male gaze, so it's the woman lying in bed and watching the man take off his clothes. Now many men are seeing that their wives, partners, and girlfriends like to see sex and like to read about sex — it’s not a taboo. Women know how to feel things to admire male bodies.”
Trizi said she’s been married to her husband for two years, but they’ve been together for a decade, and even though they’ve always been romantic, she said watching the show together has inspired new levels of romance.
“I started reading the books years ago and they opened my sexuality in some ways that I wasn't aware I had even blocked, and my husband became a little bit more animated,” Trizi said. “We are usually affectionate, but lately he’s been saying ‘My lady’ when he talks to me, and one day out of nowhere, he brought me a beautiful cup of tea in my grandma’s antique teacup and said, ‘For my lady.’ He’s being really cute about it. The show’s been a treat for our hearts.”
Dula said she and her husband haven’t always prioritized or made enough time for sex, between running her business, homeschooling three of her children, and other day-to-day responsibilities. Plus, she has four kids “and all the bedrooms are pretty much on the same end of the house.” But Bridgerton has changed that. According to Dula, the show has “drastically improved” their sex life and has motivated her to be more sexually engaged.
“For years, we haven't had that time to focus on romantic gestures or romance in general. It's really difficult to be romantic when the kids are in the next room or when every time you shut your bedroom door, somebody has to knock on it,” she said. “I can't be like I was in my twenties before I had children, but what I've learned is to relax. I stopped making all of these other things more important than time with my husband. I used to be frigid when it comes down to that area, and now we do a lot of talking beforehand, and sometimes even during.”
The Pattons said they were also struck by the diversity and representation on Bridgerton, especially because they felt like they were able to see themselves and their love story reflected in Simon and Daphne.
“It was really exciting for me to get to see an interracial couple, especially with a Black male as the lead, because it fits the dynamic of our family,” Haylie said.
While the Pattons are drawing inspiration from Bridgerton when it comes to romance, they said they also relate to what’s at the root of Simon and Daphne’s relationship: “The importance of finding your best friend in your love match.”
“It makes it a lot easier to deal with all of the difficult and hard things that life throws at us all the time,” Najee said.
“That's definitely how our marriage works,” Haylie agreed. “We are best friends, and I think it's important for people to know that the first and biggest part of the foundation of a marriage is being best friends.”