Returning to its ornate sets, fast-paced string music, and romance-centered plotlines, Bridgerton season two, released on March 25, had the chance to live up to its predecessor. With season one’s captivating storylines, it quickly became a need-to-watch show during quarantine.
But Bridgerton’s second season failed to continue the jaw-dropping drama of the first season, opting instead for a more straightforward plotline. With few redeeming qualities, the second season did not pack the same punches as the plot of the first season, which featured scandalous scenes in most episodes.
In its second season, the Netflix original series diverged from the main plot of the first season— Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset’s (Regé-Jean Page) marriage—focusing instead on Anthony Bridgerton’s (Jonathan Bailey) quest to find a wife.
Although it jump-starts a new plot, the second season lacks the daunting, boundary-pushing storylines that defined the first season. At the end of the first episode, the budding relationship between Anthony and Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) appears, but there is no scandal nor main conflict to cause the same drama that drew the audience into the first season.
In the first season, the plot’s main scandal—Daphne and Simon portraying a fake courtship—was introduced at the end of the first episode. In the second season, however, the central conflict does not spark until the end of the third episode. With only eight episodes to develop the conflict, and without a continued storyline from the first season, Bridgerton should have introduced the conflict earlier in the season to ensure viewers continue to watch.
The show also mishandles the narrative of Lady Whistledown, who writes a gossip column and stirs up scandal among the characters. One of the successes of the first season was the mystery of Whistledown’s true identity. The audience learns that Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) is the anonymous Whistledown during the season one finale.
Although revealing Whistedown’s identity to the audience allows for an engaging sense of dramatic irony, the audience would have had more of a reason to watch season two if Whistledown’s identity remained a mystery. It would make the second season more interactive as well, as the audience could have tried to figure out who Whistledown is along with the characters.
A redeeming factor for the second season’s disappointments is the continued critique of antiquated perspectives on marriage. Bridgerton critiques marriage based solely on practical reasons, such as marrying a person for their wealth or rank. Setting the show in the 19th century with contemporary elements—including a soundtrack of modern pop tunes—suggests its criticisms of marriage can still apply to today’s world.
One of the first season’s most shocking and impressive qualities was its anachronistic elements. From its racially diverse cast to symphonic renditions of contemporary songs, Bridgerton takes place during England’s Regency era, but it does so with a touch of the modern day. The show continued these characteristics into the new season, giving the audience a sense of consistency with the former season, despite the entirely different and less entertaining plot.
Featured Image Courtesy of Netflix