The following contains spoilers for Season 2 of “Bridgerton.”
The return of Netflix’s hugely popular “Bridgerton,” a frothy romantic drama from executive producer Shonda Rhimes and creator Chris Van Dusen, is sure to spark plenty of debate: Who’s sexier, Jonathan Bailey or Regé-Jean Page? Who is more ruthless, Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) or Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh)? And which of our crafty ingenues, Eloise (Claudia Jessie) or Penelope (Nicola Coughlan), is the “art bad friend”?
But none are likely to be debated as fiercely as the relative merits of Season 1 and Season 2, which take contrasting approaches to sex, marriage, ambition and duty, among other major themes of the show. . Staff writers Meredith Blake and Ashley Lee, who have come down either side of the divide, go head-to-head – see what we did there? — in time for Friday’s season premiere.
Black: When “Bridgerton” arrived in late 2020, it became a huge hit for Netflix thanks in large part to the charisma of its frontman, Regé-Jean Page, it is many, numerous sex scenes, and its not-quite-unrealistic depiction of a young woman gradually discovering how babies are made. It was always going to be tough for “Bridgerton” to top the lightning-in-a-bottle nutcases in Season 1, especially given Page’s departure from the show. But even though I arrived with lowered expectations, I was still disappointed with the second twist in the series.
For starters: I miss the Hot Duke. It seems obvious that the people of Shondaland massively screwed up by not getting it back for season 2, especially since his absence is barely explained and his supposedly devoted wife, Daphne, plays a crucial role in the season. He became the equivalent of Samantha Jones in “And Just Like That” – the character highlighted by his absence.
Ashley, I know you felt quite differently. Convince me I’m wrong!
Li: me it’s the opposite ! I missed the first “Bridgerton” boat in 2020, and only started the first season a few weeks ago when I was craving more low-stakes corset drama between episodes of ” The Gilded Age” by HBO. While there’s no denying that Page is the human embodiment of sex appeal, I was more than put off by the second half of the season, in which the main “hurdle” to overcome was Simon Basset’s objection to himself. marry or start a family.
I get that it’s a series based on the Julia Quinn books and still a period piece, but it’s also 2022 – if the Hot Duke doesn’t want to be Hot Duke with a wife and kid, let him make ! Also, the way it all happened was pretty disgusting, and no very, very well done sex scene could make me forget that. I’m shocked that so many other viewers can do this, though part of me must be wondering if its massive reception was due to its release date when many of us were sheltering in place for the season. parties and generally sought frivolity and excess.
Luckily, those two things are still staples, which is why I enjoyed the second season. I totally looked past Anthony Bridgerton in Season 1 (it’s hard to claim idol status when you’re standing next to Page), but learning more about him (that bee sting , yuck!), his appeal grew on me, as it did on Kate Sharma. When they finally kissed, I screamed. It was cute.
Black: I was largely bored by the romance between Kate and Anthony, and the (approximately) 3,198 scenes in which they passionately argue, face each other, and almost kiss while looking each other in the eye.
I love a bit of pent up passion, don’t get me wrong! I know they were going for an Austen-style slow burn – and they even paid homage to Colin Firth’s famous wet shirt scene – rather than season 1 steam, but I found the whole thing quite tedious as it was clear from the first episode when they crossed paths on horseback where this was going to end. Almost every episode was 10-15 minutes too long (also a problem for the Shondaland series “Inventing Anna” and pretty much every other drama on Netflix) and yet we never understand why these two simply Homework be together, except the conventions of the genre.
To me, Anthony’s alleged lack of interest in marrying for love and unresolved dad issues felt like a less interesting retread of the emotional ground we passed. many of time in Season 1. (Remember the Hot Duke and his dad issues?) We didn’t even get a big wedding scene at the end, like the “Bridgerton” writers weren’t invested in this romance.
Li: Ha! I didn’t mind the extra-long episodic length, as I also liked the Sharma sisters’ arcs individually and together. I was immediately on board for all the vanity of Kate, the shunned older sister for being from a previous marriage, guiding young Edwina to marry a man of nobility due to an inheritance clause. The words Kate finally heard from her mother were beautiful, and the dialogue between the siblings was more genuine than any back-and-forth in Season 1. And like Edwina, I found the defense fierce from Anthony’s quite attractive family.
I agree with you – it’s very clear from the start that Anthony and Kate will be the two to end up together. But I had fun figuring out how it would turn out, especially since Edwina was crowned Diamond of the Season. Like, I didn’t think they’d make it all the way to the altar!
So when Kate and Anthony collectively realized that choosing to be with each other meant choosing themselves, after a lifetime of sacrificing their own desires for the sake of their family, I shipped them more than I never did Daphne and Simon. Both seasons are lust versus love, and to me, the latter will always win. I hope Edwina and this prince find their happy ending too.
Black: It probably is just the consummate reporter/gossip in me, but the only storyline that really got me going was the ordeal involving Eloise and Penelope. Season 1 ended with the revelation that sweet and unassuming Penelope Featherington was actually Lady Whistledown, the writer behind the influential scandal sheet. I loved the idea of someone who was being treated like a wallflower wielding such power behind the scenes.
Season 2 follows Penelope as she struggles to keep her identity a secret, especially from her best friend, Eloise. (I loved the scenes of Nicola Coughlan slipping into her natural Irish accent.) In a wry twist, Penelope writes about Eloise’s flirtation with the radical cutie at the print shop – please bring him back for season 3 – in order to save her from the suspicions of Queen Charlotte.
I find the friendship between these two women, who grew up privileged but feel like strangers in the aristocratic marriage market, rather compelling. I’m curious to see how this all pans out next season – which, yes, I’ll be watching. Sigh. I encourage them to straighten things out and start writing feminist pamphlets or something.
Lee: At one point, I had guessed that Lady Whistledown would be Penelope, the relatively forgotten sister of the extended family who turns to writing to claim influence and garner praise. I loved how the season framed their gossip column like a small business, which of course was groundbreaking at the time, and how they teamed up with seamstress Geneviève Delacroix to boost their bottom line. His decision to betray Eloise to save what she had built was quite heartbreaking.
If the series follows the books, Season 3 will likely be adapted from “A Gentleman’s Bid,” which centers on Benedict Bridgerton in a “Cinderella”-like search for Sophie Beckett, a servant who sneaks into a masquerade ball. and hits him. with the eligible bachelor.
What do you think, after what we’ve seen of Benedict in the first two seasons? I was as disappointed as he was to learn that his coveted place at art school was entirely due to his brother’s gift and not just his merit, but such is the life of a rich boy from Bridgerton who is free to pursue art in the first place, right? I also thought her initial exposure to painting in Season 1 turned into an exploration of her sexuality, but this latest batch of episodes have proven otherwise.
Blake: Given that I think of Benedict as “the one who paints”, and there are a lot of viewers who can’t even tell the boys from Bridgerton apart, I’m not sure how promising this is.
Above all, I can’t wait to move forward and see how things go for Eloise, the Bridgerton in which I am most invested. I might even resort to reading the book instead. Drastic measures, indeed!
Lee: Hoping that “Bridgerton” will be renewed during season 5, because the fifth book is entirely devoted to Eloise! My interest in Season 3 will be heavily influenced by the casting of its lead actress, as I’m definitely one of those people who can’t tell the boys from Bridgerton apart.
Otherwise, I’ll come back to season 4, since the fourth book is about Colin and Lady Whistledown herself, Penelope. She knows what her readers want, so when it’s her turn to take center stage, “Bridgerton” better not disappoint.
When: Anytime Season 2 available Friday, March 25
Rating: TV-MA (may not be suitable for children under 17)