Bridgerton season 2 review: Period dramas are only slightly different from fairy tales. Grand carriages, gilded outfits, extravagant ballrooms and dreamy romance is what you get in a typical period drama package. Unlike fairy tales, period dramas are more truthful to the times they are set in. Behind the dreamy fountain, there stands an old maid crying into her embroidered handkerchief. Then there are the period dramas that have left a mark on the audience with their commendable honesty. Shonda Rhimes’ Bridgerton is admired because of that very reason.
*Too many spoilers ahead*
Despite the absence of the fan-favourite character Simon Hastings (played by Rege-Jean Page) the second season of the Bridgerton series was able to keep the audience hooked, well sort of. The romance between Simon and Daphne (played by Phoebe Dynevor ) was a hard act to follow and that is why the sexual tension between Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma (played by Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley respectively) felt underwhelming. It still did not ruin the much-awaited binge because of the much more important subplots playing out during the eight episodes.
The challenge that the female lead poses for the male one is thrilling at best. Kate questions Anthony Bridgerton’s ideas about women and positions herself better than the Regency era English women. It is not very different from a typical tomboyish character performing in front of the male lead to hear “you are not like other girls.” The only difference is that Simone Ashley’s Kate Sharma is not seeking a compliment, she just wants to defeat Anthony for the kick of it. She is not putting up an act, she actually feels vexed by Anthony.
For me, it was the struggles of the lead actors as elder siblings that stood out in the carefully embellished plot of the new season. Despite making several sacrifices to be protective, the elder siblings of Bridgerton are unable to act in the best interest of the younger ones. Because the elders feel they have seen enough, been through enough, they make sure the younger ones do not have to experience the same. That is how the younger ones are robbed off their organic growth. In one of the scenes, the elder sibling’s love towards the younger one is called out as pity.
Anthony’s younger sister Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) is dressed down in front of the audience after she is positioned as the better one of the lot. As a regency era young woman, she has too many revolting ideas about women empowerment but they are just ideas. In order to feel the thrill of being something more than her family name, she had to step down from the class ladder and go among the commoners. Her obsessive quest to find Lady Whistledown turns out to be much less gratifying than she had imagined. The rebellious Bridgerton is reminded that she is all talk and nothing more.
Suggested Reading: Bridgerton Season 3: Shonda Rhimes Teases Fans On The Future Of Bridgerton
The local columnist Lady Whistledown aka Penelope Featherington (Nichola Coughlan) and dressmaker Madame Delacroix’s secret partnership is another great thing to see in season 2. It can simply be understood as the partnership between an advertiser and a newspaper. The newspaper sings a word of praise to please the advertiser and in return, the advertiser helps sustain the newspaper. The two women keep helping each other and form an unusually warm professional bond.
Just like the last season, Lady Featherington’s character shines again in the end. She is shown as a cunning woman scheming and dabbling in scandal with her late husband’s cousin throughout the season but eventually, she ends up showing her true colours- a protective mother who will do anything and everything for her children. She is forgiven for everything and it makes sense for a woman in her condition to act how she does. She is a single mother with no prospects for her four daughters, who has the right to question how she is able to give them the best of the world?
The new season mostly kept viewers busy with one attractive scene after another but somewhere in the middle, it falls flat. Some unnecessary wedding decorations and palace scenes are to blame for it. In order to focus on substance or due to the high expectations set by the first season, the new season does not have many intimate scenes. I am just happy that whenever the characters got intimate, it was shown in a tasteful way.
The last and precisely the best part about the new season has to be its Indian characters and their perfectly believable background stories. How the Indian female lead Kathani Sharma (yes that’s her real name) hates English tea and carries a bag of spices with her to add to her cuppa, is relatable. She wears her late mother’s bangles at her sister’s wedding- quite a desi sentiment. Every unusual characteristic she has, there is an explanation to it. When she talks of India, it feels like she has actually been there unlike many South Asian characters placed among white people in films and shows. Her accent seems too English for an Indian woman but not everything has to make sense right?