When I sat down to watch Bridgerton over the holiday, I knew I was in for a treat. A bunch of horned up, Regency-era fancy people trying to find love in the incredibly competitive London marriage market? Sign me TF up. But between the ball scenes a,nd the wonderful outfits, and all that romance, I noticed there seemed to be a lot of... boxing. And I thought to myself, "Wait a second, I've seen a lot of TV boxing lately." Which brings me here, to you today, to ask a simple question: Why are all of the brooding TV sad bois suddenly trying to be the next Creed? This is getting ridiculous.
As I mentioned, boxing plays a pretty big part Bridgerton season 1. In the very first episode, the Duke gets in a little boxing practice to release some steam when he arrives in London, and later in the season, Lord Featherington gets in too deep with boxing gambling drama. Even Daphne attends a boxing match with the prince, and she and Simon share a nice little passive aggressive will-they-won't-they look from across the ring. While I genuinely love the relationship that Simon has with his professional boxing instructor, Will Mondrich, and Will’s wife, I was not pleased to learn that I was going to have to watch people watch boxing matches and try to remember who's rooting for who in order to follow the plot. It's so boring, sorry!!
And Bridgerton isn't the only show to employ boxing as a subplot or character pivot. On Riverdale, Archie’s angsty love of songwriting has been erased and replaced with a love of punching dudes in the face with gloves on. Now, instead of betraying girls with his choice of duet partners, he’s looking at a boxing scholarship, teaching at-risk youth to fight at the center, and throwing matches because of some Hiram Lodge nonsense. What was wrong with the guitar? Excuse me for actually liking his Troy Bolton-esque early days balancing football and singing. Besides, gang warfare and serial killers are stressful enough for the teens on Riverdale—we shouldn't have to also worry about the characters suffering traumatic brain injuries whilst boxing.
Elsewhere in the greater Riverdale universe, K.O. Kelly on Katy Keene (say that five times fast) is also a boxer and, whaddya know, Archie and him are gonna do a match or whatever in a crossover on Riverdale. Who asked for this?! I signed up for The CW, not Pay-Per-View.
It's not just those two shows. Daredevil and His Dark Materials also have a bit of background boxing. Daredevil has its comic book source material to fall back on… that’s the excuse there. Will Parry in His Dark Materials turns to a boxing coach as a trusted adult, but in the book series by Phillip Pullman, he turned to a piano teacher instead. Just like Archie, boxing replaced his love of music! How about that! Television is cutting fictional funding from arts education just like the real world.
So what’s going on with this seemingly coincidental trend? Are men... okay? Is Big Boxing surreptitiously slipping bills into palms to ensure that their sport is represented on television? Like, I get it. Objectively I understand the appeal. The male characters get to be sweaty and shirtless and work out their manly feelings with acts of controlled violence instead of, gross, words. But can’t they be sweaty and shirtless doing… literally anything else? Please, Television Gods, I am begging you. Stop making me watch boxing. I do not care about boxing. There’s gotta a be better way to brood.
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