*Warning: the following contains spoilers from both seasons one and two of Netflix’s series Bridgerton.
The ultimate enemies-to-lovers series, Bridgerton, based on Julia Quinn’s eight-part book series, returned to Netflix on Friday. This second season spotlights the eldest brother, Anthony Bridgerton, and his path to finding love. While season one is notoriously known for its steamy scenes, season two seemed more drawn out until the story’s climax in episode six.
The season’s lead character, Anthony Bridgerton, is an overprotective, arrogant, and evermore conceited brother who acts as a father figure for his family after his father’s death, providing more depth to the season’s story. His idea of marriage becomes corrupt as he believes he must find a wife to uphold his family’s image and fulfill his sense of duty, disregarding the idea of true love. At times his toxic masculinity overpowers his character, and it makes you wonder if he is just a man poorly influenced by society, a dirtbag, or both.
However, when the Sharmas arrive from India, Edwina Sharma is brought into society at the annual debutante as her older sister Kate Sharma makes it her duty to find the perfect match for her sister. When “sparks” begin to arise between Edwina and Anthony after she is named the season’s “diamond” by the Queen of England, the overprotective Kate becomes suspicious of Anthony’s intentions. Despite being set in the Regency period in the 1800s, I applaud Director Shonda Rhimes for bringing some more racial diversity into the cinematics of historical fiction by introducing the Sharmas. However, the show missed a perfect opportunity to incorporate historical conflicts, such as Britain’s colonization of India at the time.
Only a couple of weeks after meeting, Anthony proposes to Edwina, and the wedding immediately goes into plan. Yet episode after episode, Anthony and Kate cannot seem to get along (or maybe they get along too well), and Edwina insists her sister makes amends if they are to become married. Little does Edwina know she was actually creating a love match on her own.
This is when tensions between Anthony and Kate take a turn, and the suppressed feelings both have for each other begin to appear little by little. The chemistry between Anthony and Kate is undeniably addicting to watch as their denial of one another’s love turns slowly into acceptance and has you biting your nails as they agree their fling must end. When Anthony’s older sister Daphne finds them about to kiss, she is quick to express her discontent but refrains from speaking of the event to anyone else. In my opinion, if Daphne had exposed the encounter, she could have spared Edwina’s feelings sooner before leaving her without a husband in the end.
By the time of the wedding, all it takes is Anthony and Kate locking eyes for Edwina to realize her emotions have been played with the entire time. And, of course, they get their happy ending because what would a romance novel be without one? And somehow, Edwina forgives her sister despite her betrayal.
The classical remixes for pop songs throughout the series are hilarious. Who knew Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” could perfectly encapsulate the downfall of Edwina’s marriage? But the beautifully crafted ballgowns and crazy updos distract one from almost plugging their ears to block out the overpowering music.
The most interesting part of the series that kept me watching is the evolution of Lady Whistledown, who runs the town newspaper filled with gossip. In season one, she was revealed to be Penelope Featherington, Eloise Bridgerton’s best friend. My personal favorite character, Eloise, the pessimistic book lover, develops a friendly relationship with Theo Sharpe, who is a commoner, despite her anti-marriage and feminist beliefs.
But Penelope has always been carefully attentive at events, and when Eloise finally notices, she riffles through her friend’s belongings and unveils Lady Whistledown’s identity, leading to yet another breakup this season. To be fair, if I discovered my best friend had written badly about me for the rest of society to see, I’d be frustrated, but that doesn’t mean I would walk away without hearing her side of the story first, as Eloise did.
Season two was undoubtedly the highlight of the series so far, despite its slow start. Seasons three and four have already been confirmed, and I only hope to see the development of another romance classic–forbidden lovers–between Eloise and Theo. As for Lady Whistledown, I hope she is able to provide some clarity for her best friend and is given more time to shine on screen. After all, she does keep the town informed all on her own. While fans may have missed the steamy scenes from season one, this season proves there is more to romance beyond intimacy. The characters’ dumbfounding yet entertaining choices keep me intrigued for the next season.