TV Review: “Bridgerton” – Season 2


Laila Del-Rio, Senior Staff Writer

Season 2 of Bridgerton comes in with a bang as audiences follow an exciting romance through steamy suspense and a compelling narrative.

“Bridgerton” was definitely one of my quarantine obsessions. It’s the perfect escape into the world of Regency-era England filled with drama and romance. The show follows the Bridgerton family, a widowed mother, and her eight children. Season 1 focused on the eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) as she debuted into society to find a husband. Filled with classical covers of modern songs and steamy intimate scenes, “Bridgerton” was an instant hit. With the success of Season 1, Season 2 was definitely a long-awaited event. We open to the Bridgerton family outside of Eloise’s room. Eloise (Claudia Jessie) makes her debut this season and doesn’t seem to want to leave her room. Due to Eloise’s reluctance to exit her room, Daphne rushes in, complaining about Eloise’s lack of movement, and reaches for the doorknob. However, before she can open it, the door opens and we see the image of a disgruntled Eloise, threatening her siblings into silence. This is a perfect first scene for the new season. It captures the dynamic of the family perfectly and mirrors the first season with Daphne’s debut. It’s a scene that feels familiar, like turning on the next chapter of an exciting story. 

This season focuses on Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), the eldest Bridgerton and the head of the household. Anthony is beholden to his familial duties and responsibilities. While last season Anthony slept with whomever he pleased regardless of status, this season he is on a quest to find a wife. He doesn’t want to fall in love — because he believes love makes life more painful and it isn’t something he wants to submit someone else to — and has a list of qualities his wife must meet. Enter the Sharma family, consisting of Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley), Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran), and their mother. Edwina, at first glance, seems like the perfect girl for Anthony — answering all of his questions with the proper response. In contrast, Kate only seems to bump heads with Anthony, disagreeing with him at every turn. However, it is clear that the squabbling pair has chemistry and this is the path we follow throughout the season. The relationship takes on an enemies-to-lovers trope which was something I was very excited to see. This manifested into an entertaining arc as their inevitable attraction to each other blossomed into explosive arguments and barely withheld desires. For me, it was enticing to watch this kind of romance. It felt like I was holding my breath throughout the whole season. This type of slow-burn relationship with tension-filled interactions and longing glances isn’t for everyone, but it certainly made the payoff of Kate and Anthony getting together even sweeter.

In the new season, the overall costume and hair design of the characters seem to have found their niche. While the design strays away from period accurate clothing, it fits the characters, providing the audience with a better understanding of each character. The dresses and sweeping set designs are one of my favorite parts. A perfect example of thoughtful visual representation is the way the Sharma sisters wear certain colors to hint at different traits within them. Kate almost solely wore darker colors — blues, greens, and purples — signifying her age and wisdom, compared to Edwina’s naive light pinks and purples. These jewel tones were also a hint of their heritage. Additionally, the Featherington family, another one of the main royal families,tend to wear bright yellows, greens, and oranges, possibly highlighting their outsider status. These details are always fun to pick up on when watching the show.

This season is different from the first in a lot of ways. The romance between Kate and Anthony is slow and subtle. There is a lot more nuance, with long silences where Kate and Anthony stare at each other with their thoughts written on their faces. In the first season, Daphne and Simon (Regé-Jean Page, had kissed by the fourth episode and quickly continued on to other activities. Meanwhile, Kate and Anthony’s first kiss is in episode six. We get fleeting moments of the couple and they don’t truly come together until the last episode. This was one of my dislikes of the season as it felt like the build-up led to only a couple of scenes of them as an established couple. While the escalation of their relationship was captivating, I did wish for more scenes of them being together. Hopefully, they will continue making appearances in the next season because seeing the domesticity of the couple was something that I missed. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Shonda Rhimes show without the premise of drama. In Kate and Anthony’s story, we get a love triangle, involving Kate’s own sister Edwina. This was a difficult storyline to work through, as we see Kate struggle internally with her feelings for Anthony and her overwhelming love for her sister. These two things result in an internal war, and Simone Ashley does a brilliant job at displaying this. One scene in which she does this is in one of the many scenes where Kate and Anthony are denying their attraction to each other. While on a hunting trip, Anthony stops to show Kate how to hold the gun a certain way. Throughout their close proximity, we can see the visible resistance on Kate’s face. Meanwhile, Anthony’s internal obstacle is between his duty and a chance at love. Jonathan Bailey does an incredible job at expressing this inner turmoil. One scene where he does a brilliant job is after Kate’s life is in danger. We see Anthony break down and the emotion Jonathan Bailey brings in when deciding whether to see someone he loves versus continuing  to be there for his family is exquisite. This split between family and love is something both characters struggle with, which is part of what makes them such a good match. Furthermore, he accepts the fact that he is in love with Kate and delivers this news in the form of one of those classic romantic speeches. Bridgerton gave us sweeping romantic declarations in the first season and they definitely continued  the trend in this season. The way that Anthony felt about Kate was perfectly encapsulated and it left me smitten with the couple. He ends the season in love and fulfilled, proving that one can meet their goals and be happy.

Although love is a major emotion fueling Anthony’s actions, his arc is not limited to it. Anthony’s character development this season was quite special. Anthony has been the Viscount since his father died, an event he was present for. Throughout the season, grief is a major theme, as we watch him struggle with it even years later. He shares some heartfelt moments with his mother as they discuss his father’s death and his aversion to love. He begins as this closed-off man with a mission, after his first season’s heartbreak with his opera singer love interest. Over the course of eight episodes, we watch Anthony open up to love. He bonds with his family once again, connecting with his youngest two siblings and opening up to the older ones. These scenes were really sweet to watch. Watching him ease back into the caring older sibling role instead of the uptight and obligation-bound sibling we’ve come to know was delightful. One of the best things in Bridgerton is the bonds between the Bridgerton siblings and in this season we still get to see that close familial love.

One of the special qualities of this season is seeing the subtle Indian ancestry imbued into the Sharma family. The inclusion that Bridgerton portrays is a favorite aspect of mine. I was very excited to see it expanded upon this season. We notice this almost immediately in the way that Kate and Edwina refer to each other. Bon and Didi are both words of affection to one’s sister. Additionally, we see multiple moments of Indian culture or tradition throughout the season. One of these is Kate making a cup of chai. We also see Kate oiling Edwina’s hair. Another moment is seeing the Sharma family partake in Haldi as a wedding tradition. All of these moments provide both insights into Indian culture and a sense of pride for watchers of the show who can relate.

There are a couple of other storylines throughout the season that are also noteworthy. First of all, Penelope (Nicola Coughlan), who was revealed to be the mystery Mrs. Whistledown at the end of the first season, works on pushing out new gossip and keeping her operation a secret. She works with Madame Delacroix (Kathryn Drysdale) —the town’s seamstress— to continue peddling her pamphlets. Additionally, Eloise once again begins to investigate who Mrs. Whistledown is, determined to talk with the writer and convince her to take a more feminist lens. This leads her into a forbidden friendship with a printer’s assistant and a big blow-up with Penelope at the end of the season. As well, the Featherington family receives a new head of household, which invokes new schemes and shenanigans. All of these weren’t necessarily exciting to watch. In my opinion, the Featherington family’s storyline was the one I cared about the least, while Penelope and Eloise’s journey was more interesting to me. Even the limited screen times of the other elder Bridgerton brothers, Benedict (Luke Thompson) and Colin (Luke Newton) were more exciting than the Featherington family subplot.

All in all, this Regency-era gossip show isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Kate and Anthony had me swooning as they filled the episodes with almost touches and passionate exchanges. Chemistry is something that the couples of Bridgerton certainly don’t have to worry about which makes it even more thrilling to watch. With eight books of source material and Shonda Rhimes producing, I’m excited for the next Bridgerton sibling and their love story.

Grade: A-
Starring: Jonathan Bailey, Simone Ashley, Claudia Jessie, Charithra Chandran, Nicola Coughlan
Release date: March 25, 2022

Image courtesy of Netflix