or: Why it is Bad To Not Express Your Feelings
A review of the second season of Bridgerton by a twice-through reader of the series and an enthusiast who has already watched this season all the way through four times.
When I learned that the television production company Shondaland was bringing my favorite romance series to the screen, I was overjoyed. When I learned that the show had been renewed for not only a second season but also a third and fourth, I peed my pants with excitement—mostly due to the fact that my favorite book was the fourth. When I learned that Shondaland wanted to create a color-blind story in this universe, wherein the characters were not all white, I was beyond thrilled. I was tired of seeing the same characters everywhere and, much like many of the English Post readers, I love traveling and learning about the world and traditions that are not completely anglophilic.
The first season did a good job opening the show and had some good and bad qualities about it. If you have not read Melissa’s review of the first season, start here. I agree wholeheartedly with her review, especially with that of the lead actor’s inability to actually act. I may have been one of the only people who was relieved that Simon’s character would not be returning to the screen. That allowed for the exciting new main characters of this season.
This season focuses on the eldest brother, Anthony, played by the incredibly handsome, openly gay Jonathan Bailey. Anthony plans to find the “perfect” wife, to which his mother states, “You will end up alone.” Harsh. After deciding what makes a perfect bride, basically, taking misogyny and personifying it, he goes off to find a bride, hoping that the diamond of the season is the one for him. His very specific list sounds very boring and has major Mr Darcy vibes, which matches the severe persona of Anthony from the first season. Luckily, we viewers get to see his more pleasant demeanor emerge with the help of the Sharma sisters.
Edwina Sharma, played by Charithra Chandran, has been picked as diamond of the season, hence Anthony’s decision to court her. Her elder sister, Miss Kate Sharma, played by Simone Ashley, is someone Anthony seems to have already met under less than ideal circumstances. Kate, unfortunately, hears Anthony’s excruciating list of requirements for his bride, of which none are ‘being in love.’ Kate then aggressively disapproves of Anthony’s attempts to court her sister Edwina.
We learn, throughout the season, that there is a reason for Anthony’s dismissal of love and his list of Darcy-esque requirements. Our beloved Anthony was so unfortunate to be the sole witness of his father’s tragic death by bee sting—making the Bridgerton ‘bee’ symbol for the show somewhat horrifying, in my opinion—and the following heartbreak of his mother due to her love for her husband. Anthony, in turn, never wants to be the cause of such heartbreak, and therefore, does not want to consider love when picking a wife.
Anthony’s book and story line is very much a Taming-of-the-Shrew type story merged with Pride-and-Prejudice vibes with a fall-in-love-with-the-sister ending. While Kate is adamantly against the idea of Anthony and her sister, Edwina, being a match, she finds that there is undeniable chemistry between herself and Anthony, giving those of us watching a lot of scenes in which they breathe really close to each other’s faces. They deny their passion for each other until you wonder if you are going to have to wait until the next season to see them bang.
In the meantime, Eloise is also out this season, much to her dismay, and hastily running away from the dance floor by all means possible. Her search for Lady Whistledown leads her to a printing company, or more accurately, a handsome young feminist printer named Theo Sharpe, played by Calam Lynch. Their storyline weaves together and eventually apart after Lady Whistledown attempts to clear Eloise’s name by throwing her under a metaphorical carriage. Unfortunately, her storyline was more entertaining than her lines this season. She is completely self-absorbed and her witty remarks from last season have turned into some scathing remarks. The only line I truly adored from her was, “I would rather die,” after Cressida tries to invite Eloise into her little coven. Luckily, Eloise’s friendship with Kate rectified some of her awfulness and I hope to see them become good friends throughout the following seasons.
Colin returns from his adventures and talks about them until he bores his family to irritation. Most of his interactions are with Penelope, who is desperately trying to get him to notice her, but, as we see, he is busy feeding the ducks.
Benedict is accepted to an art academy and flourishes until he realizes his brother, Anthony, has made a large donation to the school. Benedict then decides to close his art box for the time being, believing his own talents didn’t get him into the academy, leaving him doubtful of his abilities.
Francesca disappeared once again very quickly this season after the third episode—the actress had to finish filming another show at the same time—but, because of her introverted character’s nature, we hardly noticed her leave. She will hopefully be in more of the next season. I look forward to seeing a quiet introvert on the screen.
Gregory and Hyacinth give entertaining one-liners in the family scenes but otherwise don’t advance their characters too much. We see their longing to be with their older siblings in the lovely family dance scene and we get to see Gregory bonding with Anthony remembering their father.
Daphne shows up being her observant self. She definitely notices that Anthony is falling in love with the Sharma sister he is not courting. Daphne now has a baby in tow and no husband in sight—though he is mentioned.
Violet Bridgerton, their mother, gives heartfelt and tearful performances while she draws connections to her husband’s death and Anthony’s lack of tenderness. She quietly pulls the puppet strings of all of the children in a motherly way to help them grow. In a particularly entertaining blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene earlier in the season, Eloise picks up a brochure on dog grooming because she believes Lady Whistledown uses the same printer. Her mother notices and asks Colin if he knows anyone interested in dog grooming in an effort to find someone for Eloise. Peak motherly matchmaking skills, Lady Bridgerton.
We cannot forget this season’s MVP: Newton the Corgi. He makes a lovely low-key entrance and is loyal to Kate. He is also the reason we got the wet Anthony scene, so we ought to applaud his heroics and his fluffy bum. Best butt of the season. Sorry to Anthony and Benedict, who both showed theirs off this season, too.
The changes from the book that allow us to connect with the Indian culture of the Sharmas are wonderfully depicted this season. We have the opportunity to learn intimate pet names for the family, including Didi and Bon, we see the oiling of the hair tradition in times of stress, and we experience the wonderful pre-wedding ritual of the Haldi ceremony. I loved these moments sprinkled into the series because they were a way to show the closeness and connectedness of the Sharma family. Family has always been a big theme throughout the show, so showing the Sharmas supporting each other through these very traditional ways was enlightening and wonderful!
The wonderful choice in instrumental covers of pop music was continued this season. My particular favorites included a version of Robin’s ‘Dancing on My Own’ and Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball.’ I personally prefer the costumes and hair from this season to last. They are much less severe and much more colorful. Lady Danbury’s wardrobe rivals the Queen’s and Kate’s orange dress at her last ball is by far my favorite dress of the season.
With all of its glorious side, I did not love the entirety of this season.
Compared to the last, this season is a painstakingly drawn-out story. While we only got one wedding scene in the first season, this season we had to endure an entire episode of excruciating detail, of which one scene could have furthered the storyline in the same way. The wedding scene wasn’t even in the books and I would have preferred to keep it that way in the show.
Eloise is supposed to be the smart one and yet, hint after hint is dropped by Penelope of her identity and Eloise is none the wiser. Now that the audience knows who Whistledown is, it’s almost unrealistic that Eloise hasn’t figured out her best friend is the author. From the verbal mention of the plant puns at the first ball to the plant puns showing up in the next publication of Whistledown, to Eloise yearning to hear that women are more than just marrying objects and Whistledown promptly writing about her views of the inanity of naming a diamond, it’s painfully obvious that Penelope is the author and yet Eloise is in her own world.
With the few problems I found, I found more things I enjoyed.
The overarching theme of seeing women as people with thoughts and dreams and not just objects of desire is very strong this season, more so than in the last season. We see women talking about their passions outside of finding a husband, about not relying on men to pave the way for women, and, most importantly, we see more examples of consensual sex. In many shows where there is a romance, consent is hardly asked for. In the first season, Simon asked Daphne if she wanted him to stop when they started getting frisky. Consent, however, was not always asked for in the first season. This season, Anthony says he’ll stop if Kate wants him to while Kate loudly says, “do not stop.” This shift in narrative from other shows is so important and I want to see it in every show.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the Bridgertons finding their matches and I’m curious about how Shondaland will continue to integrate more cultures and characters into the series.
For now, we must wait for the next season, so watch the seasons we have again and pay attention to all the fun Easter eggs you might have missed. My favorite this season was Anthony crossing out a “Miss Quinn” on his list of potential matches. You may recognize the name from the “based on the series by Julia Quinn” in the lovely credits sequence. Let us know what other Easter eggs you found!
Until next season.
Just kidding, it’s me, Carolina
This article is written in American English.