Dear Reader, did you miss me? “Bridgerton” is back and more opulent and quirky than ever. Netflix apparently knew it had the potential to have a huge hit on its hands, and played its cards accordingly. It also released “Bridgerton” when everyone was still in lockdown and home for Christmas. Will the second season have as much of an impact, especially with Kate Sherma (played by Simone Ashley), her sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran), Lord Anthony (Jonathon Bailey), and Penelope (Nicola Coughlan)? From the trailers and promotions, the show seems to have been focusing more on the Lady Whistledown’s (Penelope) story than the actual love story.
As I expected, the series does focus more heavily on Lady Penelope and her ever growing business as the feared Lady Whistledown, though there’s a vague attempt to modernize it by “shifting” focus from reporting just on scandals and one’s looks to focusing on one’s accomplishments and qualities, especially of the female variety. In a nutshell, the writers are trying to turn her into a girlboss. However, this is dropped almost as soon as it’s conceived by Eloise, who makes her debut into society, but is quickly overshadowed by the admittance of Lady Edwina Sherma, presented by the indomitable Lady Danbury, who quickly becomes this year’s diamond.
While we do see Eloise being courted here and there, it’s extremely awkward to watch. They’re trying to make her Lizzy Bennett, and it just isn’t working. She’s very awkward, and comes off as a harradan, using regency language. It just feels very flat. I’m not sure if it’s the writing or the acting, but Eloise is extremely annoying this season.
The show itself is a very slow burn, the couple not completely coming together until episode 7. While I love a good slow burn (enemies to lovers and slow burns are my two favorite tropes), I would’ve liked to see them come together a little sooner. It felt like once they were finally together, it was a spontaneous combustion, the chemistry was so good. They have much less screen time as a couple or even just together on screen than Simon and Daphne did.
Personally, as a viewer, I would’ve loved to see more of that and less focus on The Featheringtons and Penelope’s story, which has been greatly altered already from the book’s plot by the reveal late last season that she was Lady Whistledown. As readers will already know, this information wasn’t revealed until Penelope’s book, and was a major part of her storyline. So, one might be left to wonder, dear reader, what will be left for us to explore in dear Penelope’s story once we finally get to her?
As I previously stated, the chemistry for Kate and Anthony is off the charts hot. It was in the looks, the almost touches, the breathless, near kisses. While the story deviated greatly from the books (which seems to be a theme with Shondaland and especially with the “Bridgerton” series) I felt it was faithful in the love story between Kate and Anthony, and if you haven’t read the books yet (which I’d probably say wait and watch the series then read the books at this point), you could just enjoy it for the fun, sometimes frivolous entertainment we all need after the past few years.
It’s not a faithful adaptation, think more “Game of Thrones” than “Outlander,” but hopefully the plot twists will work themselves out in future series. If they keep to the book order, our favorite philistine brother is next. Benedict is much more wild and carefree even while tortured, so I’m excited to see what Shonda and Chris have in store for him.
Overall, I did enjoy the show. The characters are more fleshed out: Lady Danbury and The Queen’s interactions are legend and I would watch an entire spinoff of them Gossip Girl-ing about the whole Ton, Violet and the Bridgertons’ love and affection for one another is still very much an important part of the story, but I would’ve loved to see Kate and Anthony get more screen time. That’s my main complaint, besides the Penelope and Lady Whistledown storyline taking up too much air time. Go in expecting fun, illicit heat between the two, not much air time, but when it’s hot, it’s hot, and I think you’ll enjoy it. I’m definitely interested to see how Benedict’s story plays out next.