'Bridgerton' Star Nicola Coughlan Wants To See More 'Complex' Women On TV

Lady Whistledown isn’t the only one using her pen.

by Mary Kate McGrath
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Lady Whistledown is penning articles on-screen and off-screen. Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan advocated for “complex” women characters on-screen in a new essay for The Guardian. Coughlan, who also stars in the Netflix series Derry Girls, began by writing about the lack of flawed women on-screen during her youth: “Where were the messy women? The loud women, the ones who were complete eejits?”

Coughlan went on to note that while there is a long history of “deeply flawed male characters,” women are given less space to be complicated in film and television. “Would anyone give a note asking that Breaking Bad’s Walter White, one of TV’s best villains, be a little sweeter?” she wrote. “Of course not.” Coughlan wondered how many complicated female characters “have been toned down, or removed from our screens, on the basis that women have to be likable above anything else.”

Coughlan went onto describe receiving the Derry Girls script for the first time, saying it “felt like being handed the holy grail.” The actor said the show, which follows a group of teenagers growing up in Northern Island during the Troubles, had “the female characters I had been waiting for: properly funny, obnoxious, unlikeable at times.” She added that the show’s creator, Lisa McGee, stood her ground when the studio asked her to make one of the characters “less in your face, more palatable.”

Pointing to the success of both Bridgerton and Derry Girls, Coughlan wrote that “women were able to see themselves in these characters” as they were “written as real human beings.” The actor said the highlights of working on those two sets were that “the young women were allowed to be unapologetically themselves, never worrying that they might not be appealing.”

She also advocated for more complex, interesting women on-screen in the future. "I, for one, am excited by all the difficult, brilliant, complex women to come, who have yet to grace our screens,” she wrote. “Long may the sisterhood reign over us.”

Coughlan, who is one of the biggest breakout Netflix stars in recent years, isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right. In January, Coughlan called out Internet trolls for criticizing the diversity on Bridgerton, tweeting: “You know the way some people were like ‘Diversity in period drama doesn’t work’....63 million households thought it did tho so.”

The Derry Girls star also recently hit back at a critic who criticized her Golden Globes outfit saying she wore a sweater becauseif you’re a fat girl there will always be a black cardigan you think about wearing, then decide against, but ultimately wear bc you feel like you have to.” Coughlan replied to the tweet that she “thought the cardigan looked ace.” She added. “Molly Goddard used them on her runway with the dresses that’s where the idea came from, also I have a name."