"Bridgerton" Perfects the Art of Asking for Consent

If there's one thing "Bridgerton" knows how to do well, it's the sex scenes. From the threesomes and cunnilingus to the masturbating and first-time sex, this sexy Netflix show is clearly a fan favorite for more reasons than just the plot. But the best part about the show's titillating sex scenes has to be how effortlessly the characters demonstrate consent.

In season three of "Bridgerton," the sex scenes between Penelope Featherington (played by Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) are inundated with signs of verbal and physical consent. During the carriage sex scene in episode four, when Colin has just professed his love for Penelope, he is overcome with desire. But even as he looks at Penelope with a lust and craving that is truly feral, he doesn't make any moves without Penelope's consent.

When they kiss each other, Colin pulls himself away from Penelope every few seconds to look at her and make sure what they're doing is OK. Then, before he slides his hand up her dress, he waits for Penelope to nod her head before he proceeds. "This scene proves that consent can be sexy and that waiting for a clear 'yes' can heighten the sexual anticipation rather than killing it," relationship expert Nicole Moore says.

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Nicole Moore is a relationship therapist and founder of the "Love Works Method," a program that has helped people find lasting love fast.

It's shown in Polin's other sex scenes, too. "You must tell me to stop if you do not wish for this," Colin says before the two have sex for the first time in episode five. Then, Colin continues to ask, "May I?" and "Are you ready?" during the sex montage. When they're finished, Colin checks in with Penelope by asking, "Was it alright?"

Moore adds, "This is such a great example of consent being very sexy because, in waiting to get permission to move forward, Penelope's desire for Colin to touch her was amplified even more."

But the best part about the consent shown in these sex scenes is the fact that you probably didn't notice it in the first place. The consent didn't take away from the horniness, and it also didn't break the tension or ruin the moment. If anything, it amplified the connection between Penelope and Colin. "Colin's use of consent in this scene showed that above his carnal desire for Penelope is the utmost respect for her and her well-being, and that is incredibly sexy," Moore says.

This season also showed that consent can be sought out in many ways, in addition to simply asking. "Consent doesn't just have to do with words, it also has to do with being truly attuned to your sex partner, looking them in the eyes, noticing their body cues, and waiting until you get full confirmation from them that moving forward is a yes," Moore adds.

For this reason, it's especially important to have shows like "Bridgerton" illustrate how consent can be asked for and expressed: when viewers see characters asking for consent, it makes it less awkward for them to do it in real life. "People copy what they see portrayed over and over again in pop culture, so it's so important for shows to display great examples of consent for people to have a healthy template to use in their own lives," Moore says.

By mirroring Colin and Penelope's sex, you can imagine asking for consent as an opportunity to build and tease your connection with your partner, as opposed to a gesture that may ruin the moment.

That said, as much as we love the sex scenes in "Bridgerton," they aren't always entirely realistic; so while you're probably not going to orgasm from penetration the first time you ever have sex like Penelope did, we're still here for the tasteful and sexy consent in these scenes. "The more we can see sex scenes like the ones in 'Bridgerton' that show consent as something incredibly sexy," Moore says, "the more people will think to use consent first."

Taylor Andrews is a Balance editor at PS who specializes in topics relating to sex, relationships, dating, sexual health, mental health, and more. In her six years working in editorial, she's written about how semen is digested, why sex aftercare is the move, and how the overturn of Roe killed situationships.