‘Bridgerton’ is back with a more emotional, complex second season

In 2020, Season 1 of “Bridgerton” (2020–) was the most-watched original series on Netflix, with 82 million households watching the series within 28 days of its initial release. Adapted from Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels, the series follows the Bridgertons, a noble family in 19th-century Britain, as they attempt to find love and their place in society. The first season followed the eldest daughter, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), as she debuted in London society and set her heart on finding a husband, only to fall for the most desired man in the city — the Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett (Regé-Jean Page). The second season turns its focus to the eldest son of the Bridgerton family, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), who has finally decided to settle down and find his match. Anthony does not anticipate that finding love will be an easy task, but it only becomes more complicated when the Sharma family arrives from India. Anthony starts courting the younger sister, Edwina (Charithra Chandran), only to start falling for the older sister, Kate (Simone Ashley).

Season 2 of “Bridgerton” is easily defined by two aspects: the love triangle and the enemies-to-lovers arc between Kate and Anthony. Initially, Anthony courts Edwina, much to Kate’s disapproval. In the first episode, Kate overhears a conversation between Anthony and his friends in which he lists off his requirements for a wife in a very objectifying way, while also implying that marriage is not about love and more so something that he is just expected to do. After this conversation, Kate decides that Anthony is not worthy of her sister and does everything in her power to prevent him from courting her. However, Edwina herself catches feelings for the viscount and thinks he would make a good husband for her, which leads to the two families spending much more time together. As time goes on, Anthony and Kate find themselves caught in a love triangle — the two of them fall for each other, but Edwina is still in love with Anthony. 

Unlike the relationship between Daphne and Simon in the first season, where much of their relationship seemed based on sex and lust, Anthony and Kate’s relationship feels much more emotionally complex. Through their relationship, Anthony and Kate both come to terms with traumas from their past that continue to have an impact on them. Anthony makes peace with his father’s death, the way it thrust him into the fatherly, head-of-the-family role at such a young age and the resulting pressure it puts on him.

Kate, similarly, deals with the imposter syndrome she feels in her own family due to her father’s death. Mary Sharma (Shelley Conn), is Edwina’s biological mother, but not Kate’s, as Kate’s father already had her prior to marrying Mary. After her father’s death, Kate feels the need to prove her worth to her new mother in order to keep her place in the family. In one of the best scenes of the season, Kate confronts Mary and discusses how she feels like she owes it to her, since she took Kate in as her own, helped Edwina find her match and supported the family however she could. Mary says to Kate, “You never had to earn your place in this family … love is not something that is ever owed.” This conversion not only allows Kate to find peace in her own internal struggle with her family, but with her mother and sister’s love and forgiveness, she has the confidence to finally tell the viscount how she feels about him. 

The Sharma family is one of the best additions to the second season. Not only are all the actresses incredible in their own right, but together they create a beautiful, strong family, while also bringing representation to South Asians, who are rarely featured in media. Indian culture is featured heavily in the season. From a Haldi ceremony, a pre-wedding tradition in many Indian weddings, to the frequent use of jewelry with Indian notes and South Asian-inspired clothing, “Bridgerton” shines a light on a beautiful culture, without it coming off as tokenism. Oftentimes in media, many of the struggles of nonwhite characters come from the color of their skin, whether they are battling racism and discrimination or internal struggles about their identity. “Bridgerton” does not make race the sole personality trait of these women, which is refreshing to see. 

“Bridgerton” also delivers another impeccable soundtrack, which it became known for in the first season. Throughout the course of “Bridgerton,” violin covers of various pop songs are used in important scenes. This season features widely popular songs, including “Sign of the Times” (2017) by Harry Styles and “Wrecking Ball” (2013) by Miley Cyrus. The use of these violin covers is a creative choice and always adds depth to the scenes. One of the best uses of music this season was a cover of Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” (2010). The song was used in the first dance scene between Kate and Anthony and what makes the song work in this scene is that, while it sounds beautiful on the violin, those who know the lyrics of the song are able to apply them to the characters and understand the position they are in. 

The second season of “Bridgerton” is definitely less raunchy and sexual than the first season, to the dismay of some viewers, but makes up for it with a complex storyline and multifaceted characters. The love triangle between Anthony, Kate and Edwina is well thought out and the actors capture the emotions of their characters perfectly, while also  having great chemistry with each other. A release date for the third season has yet to be announced, but it is already confirmed that both Kate and Anthony will return, and viewers can only get more excited to see their relationship grow.


Summary

Actors Bailey and Ashley steal the show as Anthony and Kate, respectively, with their undeniable chemistry and complex storylines in the second season of "Bridgerton." Though less steamy and sexual than the first season, "Bridgerton" continues with the drama and romance viewers love, alongside more excellent violin pop covers.

4 stars
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