Season 2 of Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’

Bridgerton’s main cast for its second season.
Bridgerton’s main cast for its second season. Photo credit to

Please note that this post contains “spoilers”.

When the first season of Bridgerton hit screens in 2020 it drew a lot of well-deserved attention. The bright, over-the-top depiction of Regency England, complete with corsets and carriages, was a perfect escape from the dreariness of pandemic life.

But it wasn’t just the frothy sets and costumes that caught viewers’ attention. The show also had a lot to say about race, class, and gender dynamics, all wrapped up in a juicy romance story. Just describing it as ‘Austen with more sex’ would be doing it a disservice, but there is a grain of truth to it. The first season had the same wit and knife-edge social maneuvering that made Austen’s work so popular, but it also added a significant sprinkle of Love Island to the mix.

What made the first season unusual was the fact that the primary plot, the convoluted love story between the sprightly Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and the tortured serial bedsheet ruiner Simon (Rege-Jean Page) was wrapped up in a pleasant bow by the end of the eighth episode.

The second season, then, has a lot to do. Not only does it have to keep up the high-quality production values – and it does, this is still one of the best-looking shows on television – but it also has to move things forward in interesting ways without unraveling all of the good work that was done in the first season.

If you’re not up to date with Bridgerton, then a quick recap will be useful. Season one ended with Daphne and Simon’s wedding, which was immediately followed by the news that Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews) was actually Penelope Featherington all along. Also, Daphne’s brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) finally got dumped by his opera singer girlfriend Siena, while sister Eloise finally ‘came out’ despite her misgivings. Got all that? Good, because season two picks up pretty much where season one left off.

The main plot of season two follows newcomers, the Sharma sisters. Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina (Charithra Chandran) who abide by the traditional Regency dichotomy of marrying for love or money, which will be very familiar to anyone who has ever skimmed a copy of Sense and Sensibility.

The holdovers from the first season are hot mess Anthony Bridgerton and truculent proto-feminist Eloise (Claudia Jessie), with the former chasing after Edwina and the latter desperately trying to avoid roaming gangs of suitors.

The ‘B’ plot of season two is the fact that Penelope Featherington has been unmasked as Lady Whistledown. This somewhat removes a primary tension that existed for most of the first series, but does give us a juicy peek into the kind of gossip you can overhear when everyone writes you off as nothing more than an insipid wallflower.

What we have here is an unusual second reason reset, with the main characters sailing into the sunset and the rest of the cast having to scramble to figure out what happens next.

The first season of Bridgerton was a delightful surprise, a frothy Regency romance with sharp teeth and an ear for modern dialogue. The second season is more of the same, which is both good and bad. Good because the show is still incredibly fun, with great clothes, witty banter, and a willingness to engage with the sexier aspects of its source material. Bad because it feels like the show is spinning its wheels a bit, especially in the first half of the season.

The biggest problem with season two is that it doesn’t have a villain. The first season had Lady Portia Featherington, played to perfection by Polly Walker, but she’s relegated to the background for most of this season. The other problem is that the promotion of characters like Anthony and Eloise hasn’t worked particularly well. Anthony simply works better as a supporting character, and his story this season is a bit of a mess.

Eloise, on the other hand, is given more to do, but it’s not particularly interesting stuff. Her struggle to avoid finding a husband while also trying to help her brother find one is sitcom-worthy, not something that should be taking up so much time on a period drama.

The show’s saving grace is still its wonderful cast, who are all clearly having a great time with the material. But even they can’t make up for the fact that this season is a bit of a misfire. Let’s be clear here, season two of Bridgerton is far from bad. The set and costume design continue to be gorgeous, the music is once again wonderful, and the cast is still as charming as ever. But there are some definite problems with this season that weren’t present in the first.

The biggest issue is the writing. Season one of Bridgerton was sleek, romantic, and often very funny. This season, the dialogue often feels clunky and unnatural, as if the writers are trying too hard to be witty. The result is a lot of eye-rolling one-liners that fall flat. The plot also suffers from being overly convoluted. There are just too many characters and subplots going on at once, which makes it difficult to keep track of everything that’s going on. Because of the show’s large cast, many of the characters are underserved, and their arcs feel unfinished.

Despite its flaws, season two of Bridgerton is still a beautiful show to watch. The costumes and sets are as lavish as ever, and it’s clear that a lot of care went into the production. While the acting isn’t always great, there are some stand-out performances, specifically from Claudia Jessie and Charithra Chandran.

If you’re a fan of the first season, then you’ll probably enjoy the second. But if you’re not already invested in the world of Bridgerton, then the second season is unlikely to win you over.

Written by Editorial Team

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