Season Two of Bridgerton is here and we have thoughts!
In the second season, a widow and her two daughters, acerbic spinster Kate and her sociable younger sister Edwina, spend the last of their funds to travel from Bombay to London, and find Edwina a husband.
Anthony, the head of the Bridgerton clan, thinks Edwina would be the perfect wife for a quiet, unromantic life; he just has to convince Edwina’s sister to stop hating him.
Too bad said sister is very hot, especially when she’s mad at him, which is most of the time.
Plus, we get Bridgerton scandals, Featherington scandals, and female friendships.
Mild spoilers ahoy!
What did we like:
Shana: Kate and Anthony’s enemies to lovers story was addictive to watch; I binged the whole series in a few days. They’re both driven by duty and determined to deprive themselves of love, which is serious catnip for me, y’all. The slow burn between them was intensely sexy, all longing looks and desperate attempts to pretend they weren’t affected by one another.
I was also excited to see the South Asian rep, especially having Kate and Edwina played by darker-skinned actresses. Although they never really resolve…
…the conflict between Kate missing Bombay and wanting to go home, and her decision to stay in Britain with Anthony
…there are plenty of poignant moments, like Kate oiling Edwina’s hair, or Edwina calling her didi, and hilarious ones, like Kate’s making fun of the blandness of British tea.
I’m always obsessed with period costumes, and they were fabulous here. The Sharma sisters’ vivid orange and pale pink dresses made me drool, and Kate has the best collection of sexy regency undies that I’ve seen on tv. Plus, Nicola Coughlan finally gets gowns that fit her boobs!
One of my favorite moments was when Edwina compliments one of Penelope’s lurid gowns, reminding us that not every culture hates bright colors.
Kiki: The chemistry between Kate and Anthony was “I am intruding in a private moment” incredible.
Like Shana, two people trying so hard to deny themselves of each other and still being magnetically pulled toward one another is romance perfection to me. I was left feeling really cold about Anthony after the first season, slightly warmer about him on my rewatch, and completely delighted by him in the second season.
The (largely self-induced) pressure he feels to live his life a certain way makes him appear to always be teetering on the brink of a conniption, but in a hilarious way that is supported by the humor of the show.
Combined with Kate’s protectiveness, stubbornness, and her own slipping control over her composure–anytime the two of them were in a scene together it felt electric.
I also really adored the South Asian rep and cultural nods, and the inclusion of really fantastic darker-skinned actresses. It was beautiful to see the way South Asian fabrics and jewelry were woven into the Sharma family’s wardrobe, among other things. I’m desperately hoping that we get to see Kate in further seasons, because she jumped up the list to become one of my favorite characters on the show.
What did we not like:
Shana: Two much Daphne Bridgerton, and no Simon.
I watched season two with my wife, who hadn’t seen season 1. Even without the baggage of Daphne’s consent issues, my wife still found Daphne annoying every time she appeared on screen. She seemed to have no purpose beyond popping in each episode to lecture Anthony on the importance of finding love.
I’m also not a fan of the way Penelope was written. In the books, she’s sympathetic and kind, while also being a shrewd businesswoman. We see plenty of the latter in season 2 but not enough of the caring bookworm that I loved to read.
Kiki: I wanted…more Kate and Anthony? In part because I just can’t get enough of them, and in part because this season felt pretty ensemble heavy. This absolutely may just be a personal perception issue, but I found myself saying “go back to the main plot!” more than once. A lot of the things I did not like are about how this season deviates from the book, which is rare for me!
How did it compare to season 1?
Shana: Season 2 fixed most of the elements that annoyed me about the first season. It has the banter and romance that I craved in season 1, during which everyone just seemed miserable. I thought this season of Bridgerton was sweet, and even funny. Anthony and Kate try so valiantly to keep from falling in love, I couldn’t help but laugh at them.
We get to see more of the middle-aged ladies, like the mesmerizing Lady Danbury, and they’re given a bit more to do. I also thought season 2 hit a better balance between the fantasy of the Regency, and acknowledging the oppressive reality of the past.
I love a big, rollicking family with lots of teasing, and the Bridgerton clan felt more cohesive this season, with more fleshed out subplots.
Artist Benedict and bluestocking Eloise shine; they’re both consistently ambitious and amusing. I have a serious crush on Benedict now: no one lolls languidly on a settee like he does.
Overall, it feels like Bridgerton has further embraced its romance roots, and designed a season to appeal to trope-loving romance fans.
But I missed the hints of queerness from season 1. Part Two of Bridgerton was very straight.
Kiki: Season 2 is better in pretty much every way I can think of. The chemistry between the two leads (have I talked enough about that yet???) absolutely changed this season for me.
Daphne and Simon’s relationship, for more reasons than their consent problems and general mopeyness, made season 1 a bit of a drag. They were my least favorite part of the first season.
Kate and Anthony were like turning on the lights for this show in a major way. Every character felt a little bit more on this season–both messier and more themselves. There was overall just more energy in the storyline. I also developed a huge Benedict crush this season. Out of all of the siblings, I think he really shone.
There’s a scene in which he gets high and is an absolute chaotic and hilarious disaster child. It is magnificent.
There were also several changes to character design (clean shaven Anthony was the right choice) and the overall look of the show that I think cleaned it up a bit.
How does it compare to the books?
Shana: It’s been so long since I read The Viscount Who Loved Me, I can’t remember the details. I did notice that the show deftly avoids any potential consent minefields that might translate poorly to film, although that means…
…losing the scene where Anthony sucks venom from Kate’s bee sting.
My biggest concern is Colin Bridgerton. He’s my favorite brother in the books, because of his rakish charm, playfulness, and writing talent. But on the show, he feels like an earnest schoolboy who drones on about his boring trip to Greece, while arrogantly ordering adults around like a petulant child. And I feel like his hair should be longer…is that canon or just my personal fantasy?
Either way, I don’t know how they’re going to turn him into a viable romantic hero in future seasons.
Kiki: Okay. So.
Besides the several subplots that are necessarily added to give the ensemble characters something to, ya know, do, folks should know that the show makes some pretty hefty changes to the entire second half of the plot.
The show chooses to forgo Anthony sucking on Kate’s chest and getting caught by Lady Featherington, for which I thank the showrunner’s immensely. It is a scene that haunts me, and I was actually very happy by the way they adapted the scene to be something different.
I can respect the decision to avoid another season in which the leads are forced to get married because they’ve been caught in a compromising position, but the changes to the plot and characterizations that lead to Edwina being in love with Anthony (as opposed to her much cooler feelings in the book) and led to a FULL-ASS wedding for them in the show felt like a bad call to me.
I am still re-listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me, but I’m fairly sure that Edwina and Anthony don’t even end up engaged in the book, let alone a mere few words away from being married.
That part just didn’t feel…good.
I know that this was done in part to give Lady Danbury and Queen Charlotte bigger roles this season, which I certainly do not begrudge them, but it also just felt kinda crappy to watch Edwina be so in love and know how messy the confrontation was going to be.
I do love mess, but not so much mess between sisters over a man, even if that man is played by Jonathan Bailey.
Shana: Totally agree.
Do you recommend it?
Shana: I would definitely recommend the new season of Bridgerton for historical romance fans. It’s beautiful and compelling, even if you haven’t seen season one. The plot is so over-the-top, it veers into camp at times, but the acting is strong enough to keep you caring about the characters. If you skipped the first season, it’s okay to start here.
Kiki: Yes! Season 2 definitely feels like the show is hitting its stride with a bit more confidence. The acting and chemistry of the leads is incredible (and is actually present, unlike season 1), and despite the fact that I really didn’t love some of the changes they made to the plot, I would and will happily rewatch.
What about you? What did you think of Bridgerton Season 2?