Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is a fulfilling miniseries in its own right, but more importantly, it opened the door to the full potential of the Bridgerton universe. There is a world of sweeping romance and steamy sex beyond the current alphabetical lineup of Bridgerton siblings! Lady Danbury’s single lady adventures, anybody? Set against the backdrop of young Violet meeting Edmund?
But there is one romance in Queen Charlotte that I most want to see in its own six-episode miniseries: the epic saga of Reynolds (Freddie Dennis) and Brimsley (Sam Clemmett), the king and queen’s butlers.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.]
Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix
In the second episode of Queen Charlotte we learn Reynolds, the king’s personal headservant, and Brimsley, top butler to the queen, are not only colleagues, but lovers. The show does not reveal how long this love affair has been going on, but it’s clear by the easy way they fall into bed together that it’s been happening even before Charlotte arrived in England.
In the past plotline, we get to see more of their relationship. It’s never one they can openly reveal, but despite it all, the pair do share some happy intimate moments. They bathe together. They find moments to sneak away and have sex. They dance off to the side at the ball when no one is watching. It’s certainly a complicated happiness, since they can never fully be with one another, but they’ve found a way to make it work, using the duties of their job as an advantage in this situation.
Of course, their love story takes a bittersweet turn when you realize that we don’t see Reynolds at all in the present day timeline. It could very well be that he is just off attending to George at Kew; after all, George’s condition has worsened over the years. Or, perhaps, he might’ve passed away sometime over the past several decades. Whatever the reason, there’s a void in his absence, as we see in an absolutely heartrending scene where Brimsley dances all by himself, leading around an invisible partner in the spot he and Reynolds would meet.
Photo: Nick Wall/Netflix
But those years in between — I want to see more of that! There are 56 years between Queen Charlotte and the present-day Bridgerton series. Fifty-six! That is 56 years of two men who love each other, bound by duty, but whose duty allows them to understand each other like no one else, because no one else will ever know what it is like to be in their shoes. Brimsley and Reynolds are not major characters in Queen Charlotte, and their relationship isn’t the main attraction of the show, but their scenes together steal the spotlight and take on a particularly evocative parallel to Charlotte and George’s love. They echo a similarly complicated happiness and devotion intertwined with equally-yet-completely different tragedy. A series diving into their point-of-view over the next five decades would not only be a fantastic follow up to Charlotte and George’s story, but also offer a perspective that the greater Bridgerton universe so sorely needs.
The main Bridgerton series barely dabbles in queer representation, after all. Part of it is because it is beholden to the original novels by Julia Quinn, where all the Bridgerton siblings are presumably heterosexual. This means that even though artsy second brother Benedict went to a hedonistic sex party in season 1 and saw an artist he admired getting it on with a dude, which may have awakened something in him, it’s unlikely that this side of him will be explored much — at least not if he is supposed to match the romantic arc from An Offer from a Gentleman, the Bridgerton book that follows his love story.
But being queer in Regency times isn’t exactly the stuff of sweeping happy endings. Bridgerton takes place in a fantasy reality where race isn’t a huge issue when it comes to inequality, but sexuality and gender norms are apparently still quite rigid. Since the main Bridgerton series sticks closely to the married-with-heirs-on-the-way happily-ever-after formula that the novels do, it’s unlikely they’re going to heavily feature a queer romance unless they decide that in this version of the world, England legalized gay marriage 200 years before anywhere else in the world.
That’s why a spinoff like Queen Charlotte — which doesn’t end traditionally happily even though it ends as happily as it can — opens the doors to all kinds of stories. Brimsley and Reynolds’ decades-long secret and duty-bound relationship is the perfect follow up to Queen Charlotte, and the perfect gateway to more serious Bridger-shows, ones that can expand the world and flesh out some of the parts that the original series only glosses over.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is available on Netflix now.