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‘Bridgerton’ season 2: The return of Lady Whistledown

| Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Emma Kirner | The Observer
Image sources: Netflix

Dearest Reader,

The Bridgertons and Lady Whistledown have graced our screens once more for another season of gossip, melodrama and our favorite rom-com tropes. Following a sensational, steamy first season, lauded as a blend between Jane Austen and “The Bachelor,” “Bridgerton” season two had many expectations to meet.

However, season two did not meet those expectations.

Season two took those expectations, threw them out and decided to do something very different.

Season two does return us to the sumptuous setting of 1814 London with a familiar cast of characters and questionable historical(ish) costumes. The tone, however, shifts entirely. Instead Daphne and Simone’s sexual tension building up for an entire season as the main point of titillation, we get Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma’s intellectual sparring.

The fake-dating trope is replaced by enemies-to-lovers and made more complicated by a love triangle. Anthony and Kate cannot stand each other’s presence, and we get to watch them eviscerate one another every chance they get. It’s fantastic. Anthony decides Kate’s sister, Edwina, the diamond of the season, will make the perfect viscountess, but first, he must get through Kate to marry her. Things get complicated. Secrets abound. Instead of “The Bachelor” meets Jane Austen, we get “Taming of the Shrew” meets “Pride and Prejudice.” However, I am here for the Shakespearian love triangle paired with the Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy dynamic.

With the tonal shift in the new season comes a shifted focal lens. The characters become the center of the story instead of last season’s emphasis on temptation and scandal. I personally found the change gratifying and refreshing. Anthony Bridgeton struggles with the dichotomy between his perceptions of familial duty and his heart. Kate, in a fitting parallel, has a similar struggle, and her poor sister is caught between the two of them. After last season’s reveal of Lady Whistledown’s identity, we also get to watch Penelope Featherington struggle with her growing business as an author under a pen name and its ability to damage her friendships. The characters have more depth this season, and I think it makes for more enjoyable storytelling.

For those audience members who loved “Bridgerton” for the sex, scandal and gossip, don’t worry — there is still plenty of that. The Featheringtons cannot stop their scheming. Eloise, who replaces Daphne as the Bridgerton daughter on the marriage mart, can not stand society. Lady Whistledown, again voiced by Julie Andrews, narrates it all with the same whit as last season. Queen Charlotte cannot rest from her quest to unmask Lady Whistledown and plots accordingly. These more sensational elements are just balanced out by good, character-driven storytelling.

There were, however, some pacing issues. The whole issue with the Anthony/Kate/Edwina love triangle comes to a head in episode six, which seemed like a finale. While there is fallout to deal with and loose ends to tie up at that point, there are two more episodes after that in the season. In those two episodes, the show introduced more melodrama and plot points to create enough content for two more hours of television. It seemed excessive, and after watching all eight hours of this show over the course of two days, made it feel like the show dragged on a bit. The story, up until episode six, naturally built on itself with good pacing and handling of the inherent melodrama of this series. Episodes seven and eight felt like awkward conclusions fitted together to maintain the series’s eight-episode format.

Despite the pacing issues, it was overall an enjoyable watch. The new main characters and storyline create a softer arc from the sensation of last season, but drama still abounds. Season two saw “Bridgerton” finding a new balance between sex, scandal, romance and character development that I hope to see continued in future seasons.


Show: “Bridgerton” season 2

Starring: Jonathan Bailey, Simone Ashley, Charithra Chandran

Favorite Episodes: “Off to the Races,” “The Choice”

If you like: “Pride and Prejudice,” “Taming of the Shrew”

Where to Watch: Netflix

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

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