Bridgerton has returned to Netflix for a second season, delighting fans who became obsessed with the raunchy period drama when it debuted in 2020.
Based on Julia Quinn’s series of historical romance novels, the series follows the young singletons of London’s high society, as they enter the marriage market for the first time.
At the center of the show is the Bridgerton family, led by matriarch Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell). In the first season, the focus character was the family’s eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), who eventually marries the brooding Simon Bassett, Duke of Hastings.
In the second series, the focus has shifted to Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), eldest of the Bridgerton siblings, who is seeking to marry in order to support his family.
Fans are also introduced to new characters, including sisters Kate and Edwina Sharma (Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran), with Edwina having her heart set on marrying a prince or a duke.
So far, reviews of the second series have been mixed, with critics noting the drastic change of tone from season one. Others pointed out the clear influences the showrunners had taken from Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice.
“The reset of this new series of Bridgerton is, it must be said, a touch harsh,” Nick Hilton wrote for The Independent. “The entire central dilemma (and the very attractive couple seeking to resolve it) of the first season has been excised, giving this opening episode – “Capital-R-Rake” – the feeling of a spin-off. They might as well have renamed the entire show The Other Bridgertons.”
However, I have conceded that Bridgerton fans would probably still enjoy the second season, commenting: “Bridgerton harbors no illusions about what it is: a profoundly unsubtle opportunity to see beautiful, bonneted people tup by candlelight… it is a show that indulges our basest qualities, but does so delightfully. Bridgerton might be close to losing the plot, but be honest with yourself: you weren’t watching for that anyway.”
“We’re left short of equivalents to the celebrated season-one sex scenes, which, apart from being unusually explicit for the genre and notably focused on the female experience, felt like an integral part of the plot, not merely glacé figs atop a grand confection,” Guardian‘s review said.
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“Now we’re dealing with a tale of emotions clashing with responsibilities that’s more grown up and simply not as fun.”
“The second season feels a bit older and wiser. Its leads are more level-headed this time (if similarly stubborn about denying their true feelings for one another) and their concerns slightly more relatable, leading to a romance that runs deeper and steadier,” The Hollywood Reporter’s review said.
“But it’s hard not to miss, from time to time, the transcendent giddiness of that first season.”
The Telegraph also questioned why showrunners had chosen to dial down the sex scenes, given they were a hugely popular part of season one.
However, it gave season two four stars, and concluded: “Don’t look for any historical accuracy here, this period soap opera is pure, silly fun with a storming soundtrack.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.