Bridgerton season 2 review

The highly anticipated second season is back and it is stronger than ever. From the very start, the titular Bridgerton family have a stronger bond that entertains and draws you in while adding complexity and comedy that was lacking in the previous season. It is a treat to see and hear the entire family. Book fans will be happy to see the much-loved Francesca with minor appearances as part of the family. Fans expressed their concern with Regé-Jean Page announcing he would not be returning but the show proves that it not only shines without him but is far more seductive than it ever was in his presence. In his absence, Daphne Bridgerton, Phoebe Dynevor, shines and the show proves that it does not need him or the duke to thrive.

There is a chaotic and fun energy from the first episode with throwbacks from the first season that helps connect what people loved about Daphne’s story but expands into the complexity that is Anthony Bridgerton. Jonathan Bailey is an exceptional lead. As the season’s new leading man, Johnathan Bailey gives a multi-layered performance with exceptional chemistry with moments that make you smile, swoon, and cry. As a lead, Jonathan Bailey is more than equipped to take on the role of the protagonist. Opposite him is the wonderful Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, a newcomer to the ton determined to help her sister get all that she wants while ensuring her family survives. Simone Ashley is truly exceptional with so much weight added to a simple look that can convey the hurt, sacrifice, and embarrassment that Kate is forced to consistently endure. The two season leads show the hardship and consequences of choosing duty over love and the sacrifices they make to ensure their family thrive. Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton radiate chemistry from the instant they are on screen together in a way that makes everyone forget about the duke from the previous season. Their scenes captivate when they are apart but when they are together is when they shine as they radiate chemistry and angst that seduces and breaks your heart while wanting more and more at every turn. There is a rather infamous book scene between these two in a library and while it is in the show, I wish it was more than a quick scene that did not address the complex trauma of Kate other than a fleeting word but Simone Ashley shows a vulnerability to Kate in that moment that keeps it true to the book. There is a moment when the two dance to Dancing on My Own where you feel the intimacy through the screen surrounding you as they draw you in and everything else falls away and all that remains are the two. Not only is beautifully portrayed between the two, but it is also shot, edited, and composed in such a way that amplifies the feelings of last season and makes you feel a variety of conflicting emotions.

Every character, even the minor, are expanding in such a way that does not sacrifice pace or plot of anyone else. With every character expanding, we see them deal with their own conflicts from finding a place to belong, obligation to duty or simply saving face. Each struggle is crafted beautifully and adds dimensions to existing characters that we have not yet seen. With the struggles they face, the season also shows the consequences of the characters choices in ways that leave the viewer truly heartbroken. The new additions are mostly a delight. Other new additions that steal the show is the infamous Jack, a newcomer to Mayfair whose charm both entertains and draws you in– particularly the bond with Portia Featherington who has found her match. Theo Sharpe provides a rare insight into the working class of London which creates an interesting concept to how the two settings links.

The intrigue of Lady Whistledown continues even with the identity reveal of season one and has more depth added to the character. In season one, I never cared for Penelope nor, did I care for her in the book but in this season Penelope shines. Penelope has her world turned upside down when Eloise debuts and does not leave much room for her alias to thrive and complete her job. I found the friendship between Penelope and Eloise lacking in season one, feeling that I was told of their friendship rather than shown and that cannot be said of this season. The relationship between Penelope and Eloise is special and is shown by Claudia and Nicola expertly. There are many layers to their friendship but the tribulation they endure throughout the season concludes in a way that was never shown in the book but a change and climax that will have audiences talking about it until season 3 airs. The show spends time building up relationships in a way that is perfectly crafted and leaves the viewer invested no matter the outcome or situation.

While Penelope and Eloise have a realistic, believable friendship that is deep, the same cannot be said for the Sharma sisters. Kate cares deeply for Edwina but that is not reciprocated. Kate is constantly shown to care and do everything for Edwina, sacrificing everything and enduring continuous embarrassment, both publicly and privately, and disregard while Edwina cares nothing for Kate and only for herself. One of the things I loved about the book was how the sisters had each other’s back and supported each other. That does not exist in the show. Kate does everything for Edwina but Edwina is written and performed as if she is a shallow brat that has but one facial expression. There is no concern for Kate. In fact, Edwina blows up at Kate on more than one occasion and reminds Kate of the fact that they are only half-sisters. It was a moment that had me gasping. There are moments when Kate is publicly embarrassed and Edwina does not care and even berates Kate for being upset about it. This is not the Edwina that I loved in the book and the change is so stark I do not think the fans of the book or show will like her. There is one moment, before the final episode, where Edwina finally shows some concern for Kate but that is quickly diminished as she uses that moment to remind Kate of her place and berate her yet again. Edwina constantly says how she wants a true love match but it seems she jumps from title to title over any connection. Kate constantly warns Edwina of her suitors true intention is not love but Edwina never listens and even berates Kate when it comes to a head and claims Kate lied when it was just Edwina was too self-involved to listen. Book Edwina is smart, forcing people to look at Kate and has a brain with desires. Show Edwina has as much personality as a slab of pavement and unfortunately about the same emotional range while acting like a self-involved child who forgets about her sister when a smile is thrown her way. It is a jarring contrast when Edwina’s scene partners are so strong and convey so much. Jonathan Bailey explores Anthony’s grief and how he is not allowed to show or feel his emotions for the sake of duty and Simone Ashley shows the struggle, frustration, compassion, and heartbreak of Kate while Charithra Chandran just smiles pretty. In the show, Daphne and Eloise show more concern for Kate in the few scenes they have with her than Edwina does in any of her scenes.

Every character has more to them this season and one of the overall themes for them is sacrificing their happiness or settling in the name of duty but it is Penelope that is in a unique position of not having to do either; but finds happiness in her work. One of the more interesting developments is how Penelope is forced to interact with the rest of the ton, seeing how Lady Whistledown is the one thing that the ladies of the ton find happiness in knowing they may have sacrificed their own desires in the name of duty. Every character expands this season and Lady Whistledown is no exception. The conflict between the Queen and Whistledown is a fun addition that impacts the entirety of the ton and shocks the viewers.

Overall, this season is superior to season one without sacrificing any of the draw, sexiness and complex characters but rather adds to it. There are less sex scenes in the show but that does not take away from the sexiness of the show. The angst, longing and seduction is not only still there but is elevated. When there are sex scenes, they are much more intimate and realistic. There is one in episode 7 when I was so drawn in but felt as if I should have looked away because it felt so personal and intimate. Everyone loved the fake lovers scheme of season one but in this season, there are so many schemes that delight on screen. The Featheringtons, the Queen and others have delightful schemes that add so much to their character and plot. For the entire season, I would give it 8.5/10. It would have been a full 10 but the changes they made to Edwina, compared to her book counterpart, brought the season down for me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s