TV Time: Bridgerton – season 2

All hail the arrival of the glorious 2nd season of Bridgerton! It feels like we’ve waited a long, long time for this… and not necessarily patiently.

The season dropped on Friday, and by Monday, I was done — which is actually taking it slowly for such a bingeable show.

First, the trailer, for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet:

Season two of Bridgerton more or less follows the plot of the 2nd book in Julia Quinn’s romance novel series, The Viscount Who Loved Me. My review of the book is here.

Each of the Bridgerton books follows the romantic escapades of one of the Bridgerton family’s eight siblings. Will the Netflix version follow this formula? Who knows! But here’s hoping…

Book #2 and season #2 both shift the story’s focus to Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest son and current Viscount, who bears an unhealthy weight of responsiblity on his shoulders. Inheriting the viscount title at a young age after the sudden death of their father, Anthony views himself as responsible for the well-being of his mother, his brothers and sisters, their future prospects, the family fortune, and the family reputation. It’s a lot.

As season 2 opens, Anthony has decided it’s time to put aside his more decadent existence (after a torrid affair with an opera singer in season 1, among other examples of rakish behavior) and find himself a wife. He does not want a love match, though. Instead, he wants a wife who’ll be a perfect partner in society, preserving the family honor, and bearing the next generation of little Bridgerton babies.

Who better to be Anthony’s wife than the season’s diamond — the debutante named by the queen as the most exquisite and incomparable?

This season’s diamond is Miss Edwina Sharma, a perfectly poised young woman with great beauty and all the manners and skills deemed most desirable in a society girl. There’s just one hiccup — Edwina’s older sister Kate is determined to see Edwina married well, and she’s taken an instant disliking to our dear Anthony.

But what is dislike but insanely hot chemistry in disguise?

Season 2 of Bridgerton has far fewer sex scenes that season 1, but instead, features much more of a slow burn. That Anthony and Kate are end game is obvious… but it’s delicious to see the build-up of their sexual tension and their enemies-to-lovers dynamic.

There’s a lot to love about season 2… but also a few things I could have done without. In no particular order, my highs and lows:

SPOILERS AHOY! I’m going to get into more specific plot points, so look away if you haven’t watched yet!!

REALLY, SPOILERS AHEAD!

LAST WARNING!

Okay, here we go:

  • The key downer for me this season is turning Kate-Anthony-Edwina into a love triangle. In the book, Anthony is courting Edwina, who recognizes that Anthony would make a fine catch… but she doesn’t actually have feelings for him. So when their match comes to an end, Edwina isn’t hurt, isn’t betrayed, and finds a guy who’s actually a much better fit for her interests and personality.
  • Here in the show, Edwina does fall for Anthony, and things progress all the way to their wedding before she realizes that Anthony and Kate have feelings for each other.
  • WHY? Why did we need a love triangle? Why turn this into betrayal between sisters? Kate should have been honest with Edwina sooner, and yes, there are reasons for how things played out… but no. This wasn’t necessary. Two very nice young women who love each other ended up making each other miserable and nearly ruin their beautiful connection. Of course, there’s a happy ending, but it sucks having to get there.
  • Back to the book, Anthony and Kate are caught in a compromising position and are therefore forced to marry in order to save everyone’s reputation, and I guess it makes sense that they changed this (for fear of it being too similar to the Simon/Daphne plot from season 1), but I thought it would have been fun to see it play out.
  • But oh, the scene where I thought that would happen! There’s a bee involved, and if you never thought a bee sting scene could be sexy, well, you clearly haven’t watched Bridgerton! The sparks are jumping off the screen!
  • I just didn’t love Eloise this season, as much as I wanted to. Her storyline is all over the place, she doesn’t seem to know what she wants, and she’s not a very good friend. Her awkward shtick is getting old, and she’s all talk, no action when it comes to being a rebel.
  • GILES ALERT! If you’re a Buffy fan, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him moment that will make you happy.
  • I love, love, love how matter of fact this show is about the fact that Bridgerton takes place in a world where diversity is just normal and how things are. It’s glorious.
  • And I love that the Sharma family is from India, and their heritage gets woven into the story in little ways, like words and scents and beauty routines and the pre-wedding haldi ceremony.

(Regarding the haldi, see this article. And this one too on Indian representation.)

  • Classical versions of pop music are back! This season’s music included string arrangements of You Oughta Know and Wrecking Ball (listen on Spotify), plus more fabulous choices.
  • The youngest Bridgertons, Hyacinth and Gregory, get a little more airtime and are quite adorable, although once again sister Francesca is mostly MIA. (Apparently, the actress had a scheduling conflict while filming another Netflix series.) And while it’s nice to see Daphne again, she just pops in from time to time to give Anthony advice about love and marriage and show off her new baby. That’s fine… although it does reinforce the tired old idea that a romance plot ends with a wedding, and everything after that is mere epilogue.
  • Polly Walker is spectacular as the awful Mrs. Featherington, who behaves as badly as you’d expect but then earns a mite of redemption by the end.
  • Penelope is fabulous, and I’m mad at anyone who hurts her feelings. Looking at you, Colin and Eloise!
  • The plotline with the Queen… well, it’s not in the books at all, but mostly works in the show, although her obsession with the Bridgerton wedding doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I’m willing to just chalk it up to plot necessities and move on.
  • Loved the backstory and flashbacks related to the death of Daddy Bridgerton and how it affected both Anthony and Violet. Really heartwrenching scenes and terrific acting on both their parts.
  • And did I mention the chemistry between Anthony and Kate? Yes??? Well, I’ll mention it again. They are VERY good together.

There’s more, but I’ll stop before I start raving about pall-mall and Anthony falling in the lake and the cute corgi.

You know you wanted to see a lake picture!

All in all, this was a really fun, enjoyable season… and I’m sure I’ll be back for a second look! And while we know there are more seasons to come, it’s not clear yet whether the show will follow the book progression… but if it does, Benedict and Colin will be getting a lot more screen time!

Lead love interests for season 3 (L) and 4 (R), perhaps?

Also, three cheers for the queen, who’ll be getting a spin-off/prequel series of her own!

Of course, there are a ton of lingering questions at the end of Bridgerton’s 2nd season. Will Eloise break from societal expectations altogether and pursue a life of political thought and independence? Will the show broaden its romantic horizons and embrace a love story that at least considers the possibility of a more fluid sexuality?

And very importantly — where can I get a darling little top hat like Kate’s? (And where might one wear such an amazing hat in the 21st century?)

Have you watched season 2 yet? Did it live up to your expectations?