A Review of Bridgerton’s Second Season
AMELIA ROSELLI ‘25 (SHE/HER)
Ladies and gentlemen of the ton, Bridgerton is back! Lady Whistledown has been sharpening her claws, Anthony (by the grace of God) shaved his sideburns, and a new social season has come to Grosvenor Square.
This season follows the eldest son of the Bridgerton family, Viscount Anthony Bridgerton, as he sets out determined to find not love, but a viscountess. Anthony is convinced love is an impracticality for the upper class, where marriage is a business, so he sets his sights on finding the perfect wife. Enter the Sharma family. Fresh from India and guests of Lady Danbury: on the hunt, for English aristocratic marriages for sisters Kate and Edwina. Kate, 26 years old, sarcastic, dutiful, and a spinster already, is only looking out for a match for Edwina, her younger sister. Edwina is the perfect viscountess for Anthony, mild-mannered and child-minded. However, there’s something about Kate’s quick wit and prickly nature that Anthony can’t seem to get enough of. Filled with heady glances and forbidden feelings, this Bridgerton season blooms into a quick-witted slow-burn of epic proportions.
Despite the overwhelming success of the first season, there was trepidation about this season for a couple reasons. One, the supremely swoon-worthy male lead of the last season, Rene-Jean Page as the Duke of Hastings, would not be returning—the actor didn’t want to be defined by his first breakout role. Second, viewers worried that Anthony (the rigid, irritating, and mutton-chopped brother) was to be the romantic lead.
Although I cannot assuage any fears about the lack of Hastings, I can help you in the realm of stoic Anthony and his apparent lack of sex. First, Anthony was an irritating and semi-boring character in the first season, but luckily we see tremendous character growth this season. Through flashbacks, we learn of the depths of Anthony’s trauma: from the early death of his father to the subsequent duty of becoming a viscount, Anthony’s adulthood has been marred with burden. Jonathan Bailey’s immense talent takes center stage as Anthony goes through the painful process of realizing love is not a weakness. Nothing is sexier on a man than emotional availability, so opening up makes Anthony that much more attractive and leaves him as a surprisingly wonderful romantic lead. So, if you have refrained from viewing this season for the lack of the Duke, I promise Anthony fills his shoes quite well.
However, the show’s main current backlash comes largely from the realm of book fans: it deviates heavily from the original plot, as well as in some aspects of character. The most obvious one is the Sharma family: in the book, they are the Sheffield family. The female romantic leads Edwina and Kate are white women hailing from the English countryside. Vox’s review of season 2 called this classic Bridgerton “raceblind-ish casting”, but I have to disagree, and so would South-Asian photographer, film critic, and micro-influencer, Shivani Reddy. Reddy notes how meaningful the representation has been to the South Asian community, because “… it is rare to see an accurate representation of our culture and people in the media,” in particular the representation of “rich-melanated women as the two romantic interests.” Simone Ashley, playing Kate Sharma, is a stand-out example “as one of the first dark-skinned South Asian women to be a romantic lead” in both American and Indian cinema. However, Reddy notes that the representation is imperfect, due to the vagueness of their regional background within the Indian subcontinent. It is a common flaw in South Asian representation, that the 7 distinct South Asian countries are lumped into a monolith, and Bridgerton does not strive to break this trope. Looking towards a future of truly responsible representation, Reddy comments that “responsible media representation has the potential to unify us in a way that has never been done before but has equal power to divide us by continuing the stereotypes of the past.” Overall, Reddy sees Bridgerton Season 2 as a step in the right direction for Hollywood, but not necessarily the gold standard some positive reviews make it out to be.
My main criticism is a small one when compared to all the things Bridgerton did right. Due to the success of the first (and now second) season, the producers and writers clearly anticipate 8 full seasons (one for each of the Bridgerton children). The authors have the mammoth task of slowly developing each character’s story, personality, and arc in preparation for their eventual moment in the sun. This might be more suited to the books with first person narrators, where all character development occurs through the lens of the protagonists but falls short in the show. The volume of character development that occurs in this season feels rushed, missing out on the typical volume of romantic lead on-screen tension.
Overall, my review is positive, but of course it is. I am biased as a great lover of the romance genre and the Regency period. Regardless of what I think of the show, I would encourage you to watch it. At its heart, the spun-sugar gowns, no-makeup makeup, and gentlemanly suitors are all an escapist tactic, and Bridgerton stays true to those roots this season. As long as you aren’t looking for personal growth or significant cultural commentary, Bridgerton is a wonderful show to indulge in.
Amelia Roselli ‘25 (she/her) is a biology major from Winnetka, IL. She can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.