Dearest gentle reader, Lady Whistledown is back, for her second season, spilling secrets, causing the faintest of scandals and waving her reputation-ruining/building quill all over London’s Grosvenor’s Square. The second season of Netflix’s Bridgerton premiered on Friday, 25 March and with it returned most of our beloved Lords, Ladies and most importantly, the Viscounts. Or rather, a Viscount.
Distinguished members of the Ton are back in all their lavish glory, decked out in Georgian-era gowns and bathed in their family colours, scheming and crafting situations to bring a pair together if only to keep themselves entertained during the insipid London season.
Since the exciting match and wedding of the Duke of Hastings and Lady Daphne Bridgerton—now a Duchess—the Bridgertons this season have moved on to now have not one but two members of the family on the Marriage Mart. Anthony Bridgerton, a former-Rake (with a capital R) has decided to finally extend his duties and find himself the perfect Wife (with a capital W).
We see an Anthony that we weren’t privy to, as the showrunners expound his storyline, hazy flashbacks and all. The season makes promises and does rightfully deliver on some, barring a few that the audience had come to expect after the first season proved itself to be unusually explicit for the genre it had established.
This season follows Kate and Edwina Sharma, strangers to the members of the Ton as they come to London along with their mother Mary Sharma, whose history with the Queen and London society seems embroiled in the clasps of a past-scandal. One which hasn’t been forgotten by either the Queen or the society. It doesn’t, however, seem to have any severe implications on the marriage prospects of the Sharma sisters.
Under the watchful gaze of Lady Danbury, a woman more regal than the Queen herself, they navigate through balls and potential suitors. It is made abundantly clear however, that the only sister who is to be wed is Edwina, as her older sister Kate (decrepit, as per the society, at the ripe age of 26) has taken her place as the second in line for marriage.
This season’s storyline is peppered with Austenian tropes and we are all the more richer for it. You name it, we have it. Enemies turning into lovers? Yes. A love triangle? Yes. A love that looks past class boundaries? Yes. The list is long but nevertheless, the blend of all these tropes and storylines makes this season a more explorative version of its predecessor, doused in questions and some exceptionally challenging decision making.
The clashes between the head and the heart are more pronounced this season for some characters, and even though the steaminess that Bridgerton was bathed in last season seems amiss, the chemistry certainly is not.
The secondary characters get their due screen time as well, with Eloise Bridgerton, (next-in-line after her sister Daphne) debuting this season, much to her dismay, and the attempts she makes trying to wrap her head around her womanhood, one that is being thrusted upon her in the form of low-cut bodices and a general disregard for her intellectual sensibilities.
Ellen Mirojnick’s costume design reflects the opulence of the Regency-era, even though it’s period-accuracy is always under the scrutiny of the fashion historians. The set pieces are magnificent, as we get to take a tour of the Bridgerton’s summer house, Aubrey Hall, in all its grandeur.
The cinematography, however, is lack-luster and doesn’t do much to build up the plot and or to create a distinct visual aesthetic.
One is forced to think of Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma (2020) and how they managed to create a cinematic style while also being period accurate.
The second season of Bridgerton makes an attempt to sell a very unlikely pairing to its audience and introduces us to a new paramount of on-screen chemistry and the overbearing question (one that drags on forever, in my opinion) — will they, won’t they?