REVIEW: ‘Bridgerton’ Season 2 Leaves Much Desire to be Desired

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Bridgerton Season 2 - But Why Tho

Bridgerton’s first season came roaring onto Netflix to the cheers of romance fans worldwide. Inspired by Julia Quinn’s best-selling novels, the series promised smoldering seasons to come of the romantic adventures of the Bridgerton family. Brdigerton Season 2 was queued up for success with sexy, sideburned Anthony Bridgerton already being a hit among viewers of the first season. Unfortunately, this critic’s hopes were dashed upon her return to the Ton. Lovers of Bridgerton should ready themselves for heartbreak.

Bridgerton Season 2 follows Lord Anthony Bridgerton’s (Jonathan Bailey) quest to find a suitable wife. Duty-bound and not prone to selfish indulgence, Anthony seeks a perfect debutante over an authentic love match (much to the disappointment of his mother and happily married sister). It seems his ideal mate has arrived in the form of Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran), the demure and lovely recent arrival to the Ton. She is the picture of respectability and Anthony is determined to make her his wife… there’s just the matter of Edwina’s sister. Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) is beautiful, intelligent, passionate – and VERY protective of her little sister. Anthony’s annoyance with Kate’s unyielding scrutiny slowly begins to give way to stirrings and yearning. A classic conflict between duty and desire.

Fans of Season 1’s rakish Anthony will be very disappointed by the Season 2 model. The character received major adjustments to his “devil may care” rejection of responsibility and has been replaced with the more clean-shaven (literally, the sideburns are gone) and sanitized take on this romantic lead. These changes to Anthony make sense with this season’s themes of duty and honor, but it does feel like a bit of a bait and switch. Which, regrettably, is a recurring critique of Season 2.

As opposed to the breathless romance of Season 1, Bridgerton Season 2 plays the expected “will they, won’t they” game of two strong-willed leads stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the passion between them. It’s a trope we’ve seen played out a hundred times, but its effect on the romance of Kate and Anthony is like a bucket of cold water to the face. Utterly mood-killing.

It doesn’t make sense. These are beautiful people, playing great roles, but the chemistry is non-existent. This has less to do with the actors and performances and more to do with the way the narrative is constructed. This season hinges entirely on never allowing these two to have any time alone together. Instead of creating a build-up of anticipation, this dynamic results in the two just sort of being smashed together into a single sex scene at an entirely too late point in the season. We’ve all been there. Eventually, teasing and games turn into frustration and boredom and very rarely does “the moment” pay off in the way you hoped. There is a version of this show where Kate and Anthony finally succumb to passion, with a hard cut to awkward silence and Kate rushing off because she remembered she had to wash her hair.

You know what? Better ending.

The romance of Kate and Anthony was a misfire, but the rest of the season was too busy to notice. Season 2 put a lot of emphasis on what’s to come, setting up future love stories and enticing dramas. Season 1 did something similar, but this time around it is painfully obvious that the world-building totally overtook the central romance. Not great.

Let the record show that Bridgerton is still a master class in production design, costuming, and performance. It remains one of the better-looking and better executed period dramas out there, but it has lost some of its spark. What separated Bridgerton from the rest of the costume dramas was its commitment to the romance genre and the unflinching portrayal of sex and desire. Season 2 took Bridgerton from thrilling and envelope-pushing to just another basic period play. A letdown that Lady Whistledown herself couldn’t have prepared us for.

Bridgerton Season 2 is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.


Bridgerton Season 2
  • 4/10
    Rating - 4/10
4/10

TL;DR

Let the record show that Bridgerton is still a master class in production design, costuming, and performance. It remains one of the better-looking and better executed period dramas out there, but it has lost some of its spark…Season 2 took Bridgerton from thrilling and envelope-pushing to just another basic period play. A letdown that Lady Whistledown herself couldn’t have prepared us for.