In Season Three, Bridgerton Makes Over the Makeover Trope


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Ditching the yellow and getting a new hairdo may do wonders for your self-esteem, but as Nicola Coughlan’s Penelope learns, it doesn’t fix everything.

Who doesn’t love a good movie makeover? Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Anne Hathaway in Princess Diaries? Maya Hawke in Do Revenge? The list is fairly endless. But what happens when the so-called “ugly duckling” (let’s be real, all these women started off gorgeous!) turns into a swan and her life doesn’t really change? In Bridgerton season three, Penelope Featherington finds out.

In case you missed it, this year, the new and very highly anticipated season of the Netflix hit series is about the love story between fan favourite Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton). It’s your classic friends-turned-to-lovers romance; our leading lady, determined to find a husband and leave her crazy family behind (#relatable), struggles on the Regency dating scene (again, #relatable) and Colin, freshly back from a European tour and the gym, is eager to help. Before long, the two start falling for one-another (or rather, Colin wakes up to what’s been right in front of him), bodices are ripped, secrets are revealed and more drama quickly ensues.

bridgerton season three
Photography by Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024


The real surprise though, is how quickly Bridgerton season three gets to Penelope’s modern makeover. As the trailers have been hinting for months, Penelope decides to take control of the narrative and rebrands herself as the non-tacky, non-yellow Featherington (did you notice all the Bridgerton blue, a staple amongst all the heroines of the seasons?).

Naturally, I expected this ugly duckling-turned-swan transition to happen around episode three — you know, ease us in a little. But no ma’am. Executive producer Shonda Rhimes said “I want it all and I want it now!” Twenty-eight minutes (!!) into the first episode, Penelope gets her Cinderella moment (although personally, I thought the dress was one of her weaker looks), and the Ton definitely takes notice.

Photography by Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix © 2024

The change is immediate. Our heroin, usually seen alone, or eavesdropping for gossip for her column, is the centre of attention. All eyes are on her as suitors start flocking and you can feel the hope radiating off Penelope; this is the moment where her whole life might change. Then she opens her mouth and…. Womp womp. Despite the physical transformation, she’s still the same shy, awkward, and quirky girl she was before. And instead of being disappointing, this is actually really refreshing.

You see, in the real world, we know a new dress can’t solve all your problems (as much as we would like it to be otherwise), but rarely is that reflected on screen. Think of all the movie and TV moments where the girl takes off her glasses and suddenly her entire personality changes. And in episode one, Penelope believes that very logic.

bridgerton season three
Photography by Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Fed up with being ignored by her friends, family and society, she gives herself a glow-up, thanks to the help of the local modiste and a few very talented maids. But after the initial shock value wears off, Penelope realizes that nothing in fact has changed at all. Sure Colin (who Penelope quickly forgives for treating her like dirt the past few seasons) initially tries to give her “lessons” of sorts on how to interact with men, but ultimately, what attracts her two love interests is when Penelope lets down her guard and is being 100 per cent herself.

bridgerton season three
Photography by Liam Daniel/Netflix

When she meets Lord Debling (Sam Phillips), our girl has just been humiliated by a nasty group of gentlemen at a ball. Hiding in the corner angry and hurt, Penelope doesn’t conceal her feelings with Lord Debling but rather embraces her sarcastic and witty side. He, in turn, is also having a miserable time and is relieved to find someone to commiserate with. He values her honesty, quick-witted mind and many interests.

bridgerton season three
Photography by Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Then with Colin, it’s in the quiet moments where he begins to realize how much he’s under-valued Penelope: when they’re talking in the market, when she wraps his injured hand, when she supports his writing. As he’s struggling with his identity being the third son in an important family, he (finally!) starts appreciating her kindness and loyalty. Sure, it doesn’t hurt that she no longer looks like a pineapple, but Penelope ultimately wins his heart by being herself. A lesson we could all learn from.

As for her other big secret? The whole Lady Whistledown of it all? It would take one hell of a dress to save her from the mess that reveal will be sure to create. But we’ll have to keep on watching Bridgerton season three to find out.

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