Polin’s in the air… Bridgerton Season 3 is upon us!

After a two-year hiatus, Netflix's swoon-worthy series, Bridgerton, returns to our screens! Read more to find out how Part 1 has faired...

Dearest gentle reader of W’SUP, pollen seems to be in the air more so than usual, which can only mean one thing. It is my pleasure to finally review Part 1 of Bridgerton Season 3! Or as I’d like to call it, the season for the wallflowers. But be forewarned, dear reader, if you wish not to be spoiled, please watch Part 1 of Season 3 and resume reading from this point. 

This author was pleased to see representation for the wallflowers and introverted individuals in general through Miss Penelope Featherington, the aptly named Emerald of the Season, and Miss Francesca Bridgerton, the Queen’s Sparkler. How it encapsulated the experiences of being a wallflower being out of their element and soon coming into their own was very much beloved and appreciated.  

How the first half of the season dealt with the friends-to-lovers trope was great, as it portrayed how friends who reciprocate romantic feelings for one another, and finally realise it, the floodgates of emotions burst wide open. Part 1 was indeed captivating, especially by its cliffhanger leaving us thirsty for more, since Colin Bridgerton has finally come to his senses about his true feelings for Miss Penelope. 

However, as much as I would love to give endless kudos to the showrunners, like all human beings, flaws were undoubtedly noticed within and without. This season’s pacing felt oddly rushed as if it were a hare attempting to beat the tortoise, to mayhap be met with disappointment from its overconfidence.  

Netflix’s decision to split the season into 2 parts was unusual, as the season has the same number of episodes as its predecessors. However, in retrospect, it was recognised that a purpose behind this decision was to drag out the hype. Taking this strategy is kind of a gamble, as the story progression in Part 1, dictates how fans would approach anticipating Part 2. From seeing how Part 1 delivered a somewhat satisfying cliffhanger, despite how oxymoronic it may be, Part 2’s prospects for a delicious ending for this season’s leads, may prove to be a success. 

Questions abound as to how Netflix will go about fleshing out Part 2 in a smooth, satisfying manner. How will Colin Bridgerton react when he finds out the truth about his best friend, now fiancé? And how will Cressida Cowper go about attempting to reap the Queen’s 5,000-pound reward for providing evidence as to Lady Whistledown’s identity? 

Only time will tell, as we all await Part 2’s arrival on June 13th

Finally, before ending this review, a message to Netflix… 


Yours Truly, Luci Whistledown (pun intended)


Fantasy Book Recommendation Corner 

Read the latest novel recommendations from Symphony Chakma, a book lover and member of the WSU Book Club! Find out why these stories mean so much…...

For as long as I can remember since childhood, I’ve been what you may call an avid reader: I’ve always loved to read and would voraciously read any book I could get my hands on, willing to open new portals to worlds beyond the fabric of reality through fiction and empower myself with knowledge in nonfiction.  

But, somewhere in my transition from my late teens to my early twenties, combined with moving to a new country, I’ve unfortunately lost my joy and love for reading.   

Last year, however, I once again fell in love with reading and finally achieved my Goodreads goal of successfully reading up to thirty books, surpassing it even with an extra five!  

And from it, alongside my reignited spark for reading, it’s my pleasure to present to you, dear reader, some book recommendations I’m sure you’ll love! (Especially if you feel like exploring many illustriously beautiful worlds of fantasy to immerse yourself within, these are surely the books for you!) 

1. First up, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:

The novel, Six of Crows, is the first book of a duology series written by author Leigh Bardugo.  

It’s part of an overarching universe dubbed the Grishaverse, that was kickstarted by Bardugo’s creation of the Shadow and Bone trilogy.  

In Six of Crows, Bardugo has done an excellent job at portraying disability and queer representation in the story, that I think would be greatly appreciated by many. Additionally, the twists and turns will have you hooked, and you indubitably will fall in love with the characters within.  

Shadow and Bone was adapted into a Netflix TV series, but – with Netflix being Netflix – the series was unfortunately cancelled after 2 seasons. Also, to keep in mind, you may be familiar with some of the characters in this book if you have watched the show prior.  

Regardless of whether you have watched the show or not, I highly recommend reading this absolute wonder of a book and hope you have as much of a joy reading it as I have.  

2. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon:

This is a standalone fantasy book I highly recommend! It has everything – dragons, women in power, and forbidden love.  

Samantha Shannon managed to effectively weave a beautiful story for the readers’ pleasure.  

However, a warning to first-time readers of fantasy: the book is quite lengthy. If you aren’t used to reading 800+ pages, you might have to take your time reading this book.  

Personally, it took quite a while to finish as well, as I was reading it in between my commute time from placement and home (fun fact and pro-tip for you, dear reader: as a social work student, self-care is always emphasized during student placements, and reading was mine).

3. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo!  

Another Leigh Bardugo mention! This book was Bardugo’s first foray into writing adult novels.  

Ninth House follows the story of Alex Stern, who attends Yale, and alongside Alex, we discover Yale’s secret societies, ones that have access to the occult, that regular humans don’t have.  

This book deals with heavy topics such as drug addiction, power, and corruption. Within the urban fantasy setting, the story is woven into a complex tapestry. It makes you question the idea of privilege itself.  

Additionally, if you’re a big fan of classics, you might spot some nods to the Divine Comedy within the pages of his book.  

That is all for my fantasy book recommendations. I hope you all find some new favourites! Happy reading!  

Author: Symphony Chakma (Edited by Luci Kugathsan)


Barbie Film Review: Notes from Barbie on the ageing girlhood and the dread of being.

Sumaiya Chowdhure reviews the biggest movie of 2023: Barbie! Read what the film means to so many girls and women......

With the release of Greta Gerwig’s most anticipated film of 2023, the world dreams sweet in cowboy hats and pink nostalgia as Barbie navigates the haunt of an imperfect girlhood.

A running theme across Greta’s filmography and her own characters in films such as Frances Ha and Mistress America, is their intimate exploration of the female experience that is a whirlwind of lightness and melancholy, and Barbie is no exception to this. Expect to be taken on a pink odyssey of coming into age accompanied by satire, laughs, a few tears, and a new meaning to being Girls.

What makes Greta the comfort filmmaker of our time is her brave storytelling, in that her characters mould the lengths of vulnerability into the female experience that is true and reminiscent of our world.

In Frances Ha, for example, Greta’s character is a 27-year-old dancer, where a girl is expected to be much more established. However, Frances teaches us there’s nothing wrong with simply dancing through the growing pains because opportunities will present themselves. What matters is that we come into age embracing the violets and the blues the way it was intended and not like it is a crime to feel. Like Frances Ha, Barbie presents a careful deconstruction of the ageing girl’s being and her confrontation with the world.

Barbieland is a candy-coated utopia of fairy flossed skies and airtight figures run by feminist porcelain dolls. Crossing the borders of Barbieland, the reality of a mirrored world under the Venice Beach sun comes in the shape of strict patriarchy, ageing faces, catcalling at lunchtime, and Barbie being ruthlessly bullied by a 15-year-old girl.

In the real-world, Barbie experiences emotions unknown to stereotypical Barbies, like humiliation and loss of purpose. Feelings of anxiety and questions of death threaten the consistency of perfection in Barbie, and it presents symptoms of cellulite, flat feet, and unbalanced coordination as she gracefully falls off the roof of her dreamhouse. 

The unpredictable jaggedness is sort of what it feels like to explore womanhood as each age shows face. Coming into age cannot always be so polite. The uncertainty is daunting as it threatens our comfortability, and like Barbie, we try to shield ourselves from the inevitable. After returning to Barbieland from the real world, she says, “I was perfect before, and now I am ugly; I want everything to just go back to the way it was”. Barbie’s reaction to change takes the impression of the wonderfully real and perplexing girlhood.

After a 2-hour viewing session, I am sitting next to my friend at a Starbucks, sipping on pink drinks and we discuss the day the world ran out of pink for Barbie. We speak of disappointments at 24, mothers’ sacrifices, ambition, and admit to secretly hiding tears during Barbie’s ending sequence. I asked her if she heard Ruth say, “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they’ve come”. In the theatres, I was immediately nostalgic of Greta’s previous indie hit film Ladybird and its precious mother-daughter dialogue across the golden sunset of Sacramento.

Gerwig’s Barbie extends on think pieces of mild feminism through body image expectations and a career hierarchy that is somewhat relatable to the modern world experience. However, it is no free-thinking Susan Sontag or Joan Didion. As an adult, I found the feminism aspect to be quite repetitive. However, for many young girls around the world, Barbie may just be the perfect enjoyable introduction to the concept.

Barbie’s more memorable impression on me was the ending dialogue between Barbie and Ruth Marianna Handler, the creator of Barbie in real-life and in the movie. She says, “Humans only have one ending, but ideas live forever”. Ruth then continues to say as Barbie’s maker, she has no control over her life any more than her own daughter, and there is no requirement for permission to live life freely. If there is one thing Greta’s filmmaking suggests, it’s this: Life will forever offer itself to those who wish to accept it, in a way that transcends the fear of death and change to become part of the greater imagination. 

Barbie is a delicate rollercoaster, and through cinema, Greta creates a celluloid string that binds the girlhood experience to something familiar. Perhaps, ‘girlhood’ is just that – a by-product of perfectionism and dread where a girl must leap from one existential tenure to another to seek out the next greater idea.