Bridgerton Season 2 Review: a Considerably Less Enticing Pair Battles to Keep the Historical Drama Alive!
Bridgerton returns for a season 2, with more sumptuous balls, gorgeous gardens, people looking ravenously at one other, delicate costumes tried on at the Modiste, the more slanderous rumor about the residents of the ‘Ton,’ and the perpetual mystery of Lady Whistledown’s identity.
We, the audience, on the other hand, have known each other since the end of Season 1. Penelope Featherington, the Gossip Girl of the Regency Era, dons a cloak and an Irish accent as needed to get her business done.
This season, Rege-Jean Page’s Duke Simon Bassett, who looked to have injected some spicy touches to the historical genre last season, is missing. Aside from the obvious lack of sex scenes, he was a more compelling person in the program than Anthony — despite the fact that his Season 1 plot was centered on the mistake between ‘won’t’ and ‘can’t.’ Anthony was a liability in Season 1, but if he’s been elevated to hero status this time, we’ll have to accept it.
Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), Simon’s wife, periodically lobs up to provide passing advice to her impulsive brother. We’ll have to make do with what we’ve got, however it appears like Bridgerton was trying for a more mature and romantic plot this time. Even if it lags at times, the endeavor is successful in its restricted scope.
So we return to the beautiful British society that you never learn about in textbooks — imagine Splitsvilla placed in the Regency era — where everyone is of marriageable age and all mamas are seeking possible mates for their children. This season focuses on Anthony’s (Jonathan Bailey) aspirations, a man who is tough around the edges but is actually a softie at heart.
A little refresher for our protagonist: at the end of Season 1, he was heartbroken after the love of his life realized that, despite his best attempts, he couldn’t accept her in public. In Season 2, he is a grumpy and hesitant viscount who must attend to balls and find a suitable wife to marry. We learn about his background – he’s an overburdened man kid who was left in charge of vast estates when his father died unexpectedly.
The program makes a concerted effort to persuade us that he is modeled after Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy. When he meets the arrogant Kate Sharma, they instantly clash. It’s difficult not to since his attitudes on women are blatantly disrespectful, and he doesn’t seem to realize it.
‘She is not like other Regency females,’ which means she may stroll in puddles, expose her ankles, and ride horses whenever she wants. He is enthralled by a lady who continues to quarrel with him, because why not? Unfortunately, Anthony is no Darcy; the Austenian character keeps eluding him, and he fails to make his own Bridgerton personality appealing.
Kate and Anthony spar whenever they can, but you know that if they were left alone, they’d devour each other in a matter of seconds. Sigh, the show adores the hate-to-fiery-love cliché, and while it worked for Simon and Daphne, it lacks the wit for these two. The relationship is a slow burn, and you have to wait a long time to see any spark.
There are issues aplenty since Anthony was initially competing for the attention of her tranquil sister Edwina—who has the demeanor of a fruit fly until about halfway through the season. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that a love triangle forms and suppressed passions erupt like a volcano.
The more fascinating subplot centers with Penelope and her effort to remain undetected as Lady Whistledown, as well as the clever Eloise, who is determined to discover the identity of the scandalous gossip-writer in the tonne. Now, I’d prefer to see more of Eloise—one of the show’s better-written, more enjoyable characters—rather than Daphne or Anthony.
Why can’t a season be devoted to her exploits? Or maybe a spinoff with just her and Penelope would be considerably more fascinating. Eloise’s keen wit adds flavor to the performance, and when she isn’t there, Bridgerton struggles to keep up.
Bridgerton has never struck me as a historical period-piece drama, which would be a disservice to both the genre and the show. For what it was worth, the first season was enjoyable to binge when you needed something light and fluffy. This time, they intend to make it cerebral, but it quickly devolves into boring monotony. If you are a die-hard fan of the program and Shonda Rhimes, you should watch Bridgerton.