‘Bridgerton’ Season 2 – A Unique & Unapologetic Embrace of the Genre (Review)

The London ton is back again in Bridgerton Season 2, and the record-breaking Netflix series delivers everything it gave us the first time around and more. Adapted from Julia Quinn’s Regency-era romance series of the same name, Bridgerton‘s second season follows Quinn’s second book, The Viscount Who Loved Me, with its focus on the eldest Bridgerton brother, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), and his pursuit of a wife to help him fulfill his familial duty.

Fans of the series rejoiced when the show was renewed only a month after its debut, as the story of Kate and Anthony is particularly popular amongst the fan base. And the buzz for Bridgerton Season 2 only grew after the casting of Sex Education’s Simone Ashley as the reputable Kate Sheffield.

The new season wastes no time addressing the three major intrigues from Bridgerton’s Season One finale: Penelope’s (Nicola Coughlan) reveal as Whistledown, the mystery of the Featherington heir, and Siena breaking Anthony’s heart. We also get a smooth introduction to The Sharma family: Lady Mary (Shelley Conn) and her daughters, Kate and Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran), newly arrived in London from India, and forced to deal with the aftermath of Lady Mary’s elopement with a commoner a generation ago. The scrutiny they face only gets worse after the queen announces Edwina as the diamond of the season.

Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma and Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma. (COURTESY: Netflix)

Subsequently, Lady Whistledown’s return has the queen fed up and throwing all her royal weight behind the search for the glorious gossip’s true identity. Penelope’s increasing distress puts her friendship with Eloise (Claudia Jessie) under an ever-worsening strain. Moreover, this season of Bridgerton delves deep into Anthony’s backstory, focusing on how he dealt with the death of his father and being thrust into the role of Viscount at such a young age.

The popularity of Simon and Daphne meant that Anthony and Kate had big shoes to fill – an especially difficult task considering Kate is a brand-new character and Rege-Jean Paul is gone altogether. But Ashley fits like a glove: it feels like she’s been a cast member since Bridgerton‘s first episode while also adding a unique charm that the first season lacked. It was only when the show focused on developing its characters that Bridgerton‘s first season became something truly special. The cleverness, maturity, and sincerity that Kate displays from her first moment on screen signal that Bridgerton season two learned this lesson well. Much like Jean Paul’s before her, one can only hope that Ashley’s career will soar after this season. Ashley and Bailey’s rapport is every bit as yearning and exciting as we imagined it could be, delivering a nuanced take on the enemies-to-lovers trope that’s long been misused and of late is sorely missed in romantic media.

However, although the second season’s plot is easy to follow, it can also be irritating to juggle so many different plots, as doing so takes away from the main characters’ time. The Featherington storyline in particular dragged on without adding much to the grand Bridgerton scheme; similarly, fan-favorite Eloise has plenty of screentime, but her character remained stagnant to the point of self-caricature.

Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton. (COURTESY: Netflix)

Viewers have also noted that Bridgerton‘s new season does not rely on the risqué the way its predecessor did. It becomes obvious from Season 2’s first scenes that this is not that kind of story – and it doesn’t have to be. Additionally, Bridgerton‘s signature anachronistic soundtrack pales in comparison to what we got in season one, which garnered attention for (among many other standout rearrangements) the orchestra version of Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dreams.’ At least we’ll always have the ‘Wrecking Ball’ scene!

Ultimately, Bridgerton fans and skeptics alike should be delighted to know that season two has something for everyone, managing to build upon what was already a strong debut but offering a unique love story full of its own joys and trials, tribulations – and, for the keen-eyed, interesting callbacks to period classics like Pride and Prejudice (1995). And Bridgerton has already been renewed for (at least) two more seasons, presumably dedicated to Benedict and Colin, though it’s still far too early to tell how their installments will fare. But if the show’s first two seasons are any indication, we can’t wait.

Rating: 8/10

Dir: Tricia Brock, Alex Pillai, Tom Verica, Cheryl Dunye

Prod: Sarada McDermott, Holden Chang, Sarah Dollard

Cast: Simone Ashley, Jonathan Bailey, Charithra Chandran

Release Date: 2022

Available on: Netflix

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