Screenshot from The List's YouTube video "Why The Duke of Hastings of Bridgerton looks so familiar"
You've probably heard by now: Netflix has had great success with its new series "Bridgerton", set in Regency London of the late 18th -/ early 19th centuries. And the name on every lady's lips, both in the series and in real life, is "The Duke of Hastings" or "Simon Bassett", played by 31 year old Regé-Jean Page.
I was one of many who was looking forward to the release of the series on December 25th, but I didn't start watching it until just after New Year, and quite frankly: To begin with I didn't really think I would like it, because the opening scenes didn't quite catch me, so I was considering whether or not I should stop watching altogether.
But then the Duke of Hastings entered the scene, and any thought of quitting the series was swiftly cast aside. I just knew immediately that I wanted more.
Was this just a shallow decision on my behalf, made on the grounds of his dazzling looks?
Well, I must admit that his dazzling looks had a great deal to do with it. But can you blame me? I mean: Tall, dark and handsome is never wrong, is it? However: I'm actually not at all shallow, and good looks is just something that initially makes me find a man interesting. There has to be more to the equation than that for a man to keep my interest over a long period of time.
So what was it about the Duke of Hastings that made me binge-watch the whole of Season 1 of "Bridgerton" in one sitting?
Well, first of all, let me just say that I'm a huge fan of British period dramas, so the whole setting was already great. But "Bridgerton" is also very different from other dramas in this genre because of the fact that in it, racially diverse characters populate all classes of British society, including the highest echelons. And the most eligible bachelor of all is a black man: The Duke of Hastings. This is something that highly appeals to me with this series, and it makes it a drama that I find very appropriate for this time and space that we find ourselves in.
The actor portraying The Duke of Hastings, Regé-Jean Page, said it very well in an interview with NPR's Ailsa Chang (quote):
"I think it's incredibly important that when we are indulging ourselves in these kind of great, big Cinderella fantasies, that everyone gets to see themselves as worthy of status and glamour and love and redemption. And being the protagonist in these stories and being the protagonist in these settings where you can see yourself as rich, attractive and admirable is important for absolutely everyone."
But what about the charachter himself, The Duke of Hastings - what is it that makes him so attractive to us women?
Well, apart from the fact that "he is a tall, dark, handsome, brooding, thoroughly broken man who is struggling with issues of legacy and pride and trauma, and in that way fits pretty well into the archetype of (...) the stoic, brooding Clint Eastwood type (...), very kind of Darcy, Heathcliff... all these men who are hugely emotionally stunted..." (again quoted from Regé-Jean Page), - he's also (as Ailsa Chang pointed out in the podcast interview) quite different from other Regency-era romantic leads. What perhaps ultimately makes him a modern character, is that even though he's a man struggling with his demons, he seems vulnerable.
That's something I personally find highly attractive in a man, and quite frankly: I believe most women do. The Duke of Hastings is struggling to relate with Daphne, the woman who eventually becomes his wife. But he manages to figure out how to (I quote the actor) "open the doors in himself that make him worthy of love and capable of giving love to her", - and that, ladies, is - I believe - the whole clue to a successful relationship: Opening up and allowing yourself to be vulnerable with the other person and really trying to understand who they are and who you are.
Women have generally been better at this than most men, but - thank God! - this seems to have changed in the last century, and men are picking up on this more and more and are beginning to understand that masculinity isn't all about being strong and never showing any feelings, but that showing vulnerability is actually a strength.
Regé-Jean Page said it so beautifully in the interview, when asked what he most of all wants audiences to learn from The Duke of Hastings:
"That here is always a place to listen and evolve and grow; that there is more than one type of strength; that a lot of the time, exerting strength and dominance - which Simon, I think, starts from - can in fact be what's holding you back, what's making you weaker. And I think that figuring out how to open the doors in yourself that make you worthy of love and capable of giving love is that ongoing conversation that I was most interested in exploring."
Well, I must say: He did it well. I don't think I'm alone in falling completely in love with the Duke of Hastings. Showing vulnerability, combined with his manners, his show of respect for her, his ability to have intellectual and honest conversations with her, his way of conducting himself, and his classy way of dressing, his immaculate taste ... it all made the "package" complete.
But what absolutely cracked me up was this: I just adored the way he discretely talked to Daphne about things that helped her discover her own sexuality in a way that would take away any feel of shame that she might have around it and help her see it as a completely natural thing. This really melted my heart, especially since I could personally relate to what she might think and feel about these matters. I grew up in a religious family and ... well, I had similar thoughts of shame and guilt around exploring my own sexuality when I was very young, so I absolutly loved the way the Duke of Hastings addressed this. Just take a look at this scene from the series:
And to be absolutely honest: His way of gently and passionately making love to Daphne and making her feel like the most important and desirable woman on earth, - that alone was something that made him a highly desirable man.
So what can men of today learn from the Duke of Hastings?
Exactly those things that I've mentioned in this article, and then some.
Need a recap?
Well, here you have it - my very special
"Golden list" of attractive traits in a man:
The ability to open up to recieving and giving love on a deep level
Good taste / showing interest in grooming yourself and looking good without
Respect for her as a woman and as a human being
Welcoming the fact that she's different from you as a man and therefor
also someone you can learn new and valuable things from
The ability to have intellectual and honest conversations with a woman and
being fully present in the moment and not easily distracted by other things
Tenderness & intimacy
Making a woman feel like she's the one, - the one you adore and desire and love above anyone else on this planet
Hard to live up to? Well, any man who at least TRIES to be some of these things to a woman, will be considered highly attractive and desirable, - at least in MY book.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it valuable. If so, I can inform you that I'll be writing more in the near future on both manners, etiquette and what I regard as attractive traits in both men and women, - among other things. So stay tuned!
And if you haven't already watched "Bridgerton", I suggest you do!