The Waves

Romance Novels Are for Everyone

There are still too many gatekeepers in what should be an inclusive community.


Episode Notes

On this week’s episode of The Waves, Rachelle Hampton, co-host of Slate’s internet culture podcast ICYMI, sits down with Slate associate editor and romance author Marissa Martinelli to talk about romance novels and, of course, the TV show Bridgerton. In the first half, they dig into the longstanding race and gender politics at play within the romance writing community and gatekeeping, why we need more short kings and fat women in romance, and of course … Fabio. Then they get into the Netflix phenomenon Bridgerton and talk about the problematic dynamics the show didn’t sort out when it “solved” racism; why making Daphne pretty ruined Season 1 for Rachelle; and how Season 2 kinda, sorta, almost cured some of the problems of Season 1.

In Slate Plus, are corsets feminist?


Marissa: The romance novel book club podcast Hot and Bothered.

Rachelle: Season 1 of Netflix’s Virgin River.

Further Reading:

Dangerous Books for Girls by Maya Rodale

Inside the List” by Gregory Cowels

How Bridgerton Touches on Colonialism in India” by Desiree Ibekwe

The Biggest Changes Between Bridgerton Season 2, and The Steamy, Ridiculous Book It’s Based On” by Marissa Martinelli

Under the Covers” by Anne Wallentine

One Romance Novelist’s Fight for Diverse Love Stories” by Rachelle Hampton

Podcast production by Cheyna Roth with editorial oversight by Shannon Palus and June Thomas.

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About the Show

Each week a pair of writers and guests talk through one news story we can’t stop thinking about, and unpack what gender has to do with it.

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  • Rachelle Hampton is a culture writer and reporter at Slate and co-host of ICYMI. Her work has appeared in the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian Magazine, and In These Times. She still hasn't recovered from Tumblr’s demise.

  • Marissa Martinelli is a Slate associate editor.