The second season of Bridgerton, a Netflix television adaptation of the second book The Viscount Who Loved Me, in the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, dropped on the Oscars Weekend, and boy do I have a lot to say about it.
But first, let’s do a brief synopsis.
Dearest Gentle Reader, it is 1813 (I think), and once again, Lady Whistledown eagerly ushers us through all the sordid and thrilling scandals in London as the new social season begins. The Viscount Anthony Bridgerton announces his intention to sweep up a new viscountess, and his mama, Lady Bridgerton, is only too delighted to become a dowager. Her only condition is that it be a love match. But after watching his mama’s agony at her husband’s death, the Viscount is dead set against falling in love, and marrying someone he is in love with is definitely out of the question.
Kate Sharma and her half-sister, Edwina Sharma, have returned to London with their Amma, Mary Sharma from India, to secure suitable matches for themselves in the ton too. Kate has other intentions, however. She does not seek a match for herself but must find an English husband for her sister, or their family is financially doomed. Her only condition; her sister must have a love match. When the Queen declares Miss Edwina Sharma her Diamond for the season, she becomes the object of everyone’s desire and attention, including Anthony Bridgerton.
Kate, the strong, stubborn, and opinionated elder Miss Sharma, Anthony, the duty-bound Viscount, and the innocent, proper Edwina Sharma are left to wade through a myriad of expectations, duty, honesty, love, loyalty, and actual mud.
Here’s everything that went right and wrong this season…
The second season of Bridgerton, while eagerly anticipated by many, is certainly not gaining as much acclaim as its predecessor, and the reasons are no secret.
First, there’s a notable shortage (more like complete lack) of the steamy romantic encounters that so popularized the first season. I mean, there’s not even a kiss until towards the end.
Second, by way of subplots, there is very little to distract from the looming disaster that is the Edwina-Anthony-Kate triangle. Maybe they would have had more mystery to put out if they hadn’t revealed Penelope as Lady Whistledown (which I still don’t fancy) in season one.
And finally, the dreamy Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page) and his spoon-licking antics are notably (and painfully, if I might add) absent. But he’s in the Big Leagues now, and the screentime too little to be worth the hassle. Plus, the showrunners originally agreed to end his run in the first season.
I’m personally at odds and ends here. There were several things I admired and despised simultaneously; honestly, it was alarming. I’ll explain.
I read all the books (Lord help me), and I find the adaptation quite faithful to the source material, perhaps a little too faithful. But it told a beautiful story, perhaps, even more, realistic than the Duke and Duchess.
My favorite character, Kathani (Kate) Sharma, remains a steadfastly headstrong elder sister, determined to see her family happy, at any cost, and no matter the sacrifices she has to make (seriously, she’s awesome). Edwina, her sister, oscillates between being a perfect young lady and an ungrateful, sheltered brat (and I oscillate between hating her and barely tolerating her). At the same time, Anthony continues to stagger under the weight of all the responsibility he burdens himself with. Even though one of the sisters becomes the viscountess in the end, the other is not left out, as the Queen reminds us, She has an available Prince of a nephew, after all.
In true Netflix fashion, the series continued to cast with appropriate racial diversity (ignoring the historical truth) even making two of the leads Indian. That was all well and good, but then they shy away from the racial discourse that could have added spice to the story. Don’t get me started on the “American” whose accent and Americanness promptly disappeared after his first few appearances.
They try to touch on the theme of gender equality and activism using a fan-favorite character, Eloise Bridgerton, but fail, as the message fades to background noise when Eloise meets a love interest.
The most exciting sub-story was the dynamic happening between Eloise and Penelope’s friendship and Lady Whistledown’s identity. Honestly, both these ladies’ characters could have done so much more than just bicker. There’s no real self-discovery or growth for any support character, and Colin’s character perhaps even becomes more insufferable than before.
One highlight is that we still get classical renditions of some of our favorite songs, and it is still fun figuring out what song is playing.
Overall, some think they should have stopped with the first season, while others feel this was even better than the first season. What say you? I think the original plan is probably to follow through all the books, or at least the first four, but good heavens, that would probably be quite dreadful.
I would rate Bridgerton Season Two 6/10. Fine, 6.5/10, but only because the actors were good.