So Season 1 of “Bridgerton” felt like the perfect gift when it debuted in 2020. It was sexy and soapy and mindless ― all things I live for in a TV melodrama. I’d never read any Regency romances ― and didn’t even think I was into period pieces on TV. But of course, seeing Shonda Rhimes’ name as executive producer pulled me right in.
Season 2 premieres Friday on Netflix, with a new main cast of characters: The eldest Bridgerton son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) is looking for his viscountess and selects one of the Sharma sisters (Charithra Chandran and Simone Ashley). There are a slew of other plotlines, but unfortunately none including Season 1 stunner Regé-Jean Page. (The actor announced he wouldn’t return in 2021.) In turn, the second installment is regrettably a lot less steamy than its predecessor.
In this conversation, HuffPost reporters chatted about the new season, its highs and lows and what they hope the next installment brings to the table.
(Editor’s note: This piece contains spoilers for Season 2 of “Bridgerton.” You can, however, scroll to the bottom if you want to know if you should watch.)
So Did You Enjoy Watching Season 2?
Erin: OK, y’all, I gotta admit. This was a slog to get through — and not a super steamy one to make it totally worth it for me. It picked up in the last few episodes, but I’d love to hear what you thought of this season in broad strokes before we get to the nitty-gritty.
Ruth: Season 2 felt predictable — with the classic enemies-to-lovers arc — while meandering way too much. I felt as though the writing of Season 2 delayed so many events we knew were just inevitable. Apart from societal pressures, the sort of clandestine torment that the viscount and Miss Kate Sharma were putting themselves through just continued for far too long. Are y’all going to admit you like each other or not? Please. Big fan of Simone Ashley, especially following her breakout role in “Sex Education,” but wanted better for my girl, honestly.
Also, Edwina is better than me because forgiveness would not have been on the table after publicly embarrassing me and dragging my name through the mud like that. Whew, chile...
Marina: Totally agree, Ruth. It was an excruciating wait to get to the obvious outcome! I kept wondering: When will we get to the steaminess?! When will we get a messy and imperfect — but swoony — declaration of love, and all the classic Shondaland tropes we love?! We do eventually get to all of those. But it took FOREVER! I kept wanting to pull my hair out every time we’d get close, but not quite there.
Despite all of that, and the fact it took me a good two or three episodes to get invested, once I did, I still found myself happy to be plunged back into this world and the goings-on of the ton. Loved the gowns, the parties, the gossip, the intrigue. I gasped at several of the music cues and the scenes they were used in (the string quartet covers are back!). And yes, by far the best part of this new season is Simone Ashley, who is absolutely sensational, and I hope she becomes a huge star. Definitely have some mixed thoughts about some of the specific parts of this season, which we’ll get into. But did I enjoy this. And keep hitting play? Absolutely.
Erin: I also thought Simone Ashley was great in this role ― though I got tired very quickly of her being this martyr for the family to make sure they are taken care of. It was exhausting to watch even though I’m sure it was an actual issue of the time. By the time I was finishing up Episode 6 I just started singing “Satisfied” from the Hamilton soundtrack. Kate could have just sang this to the viscount at one point, about her sister: “You’ll never find anyone as trusting or as kind. If I told him that I loved him, she’d decidedly resign. He’d be mine.” I also ... don’t know why Kate even liked the viscount. Did I miss something there? Maybe it was the bee sting moment, idk!
Ruth: SO well said, Erin. I’ve noticed this trend with the women of color inserted into each season being somewhat sacrificial. We saw it with Marina — who had a positively depressing storyline in S1 — and now it’s manifesting differently with Kate, but she literally wasn’t afforded happiness until the end. Like, huh?
Marina: I think Kate’s drawn to him because like her, he has had to take on so much responsibility in his family, which she admires and understands. But yes, you’re both right: It’s a much bigger deal when you’re a woman and woman of color. And while I liked them together, maybe their relationship needed more to hold it together.
A Subplot For You, You, You And You, Too, Dear Reader
Ruth: On the note of gossip, Pen is Lady Whistledown — and the ever-annoying Eloise begins unknowingly dictating Pen’s content! I thought that Penelope’s decision to cave was ... interesting, because honestly, she didn’t have to at all. The rest of the ton was intrigued enough, but there’s something to be said about Pen tacitly desiring her best friend’s approval while attempting to make a (fake) name for herself. I was like, “Hmm...”
Also Eloise is just insufferable. Yes, her interest in dismantling problematic gender norms in society is nice, but girl, can you be less awkward and less self-righteous while doing it? I feel like she borderline shamed Pen for any sort of delight in the world around her, lol.
Marina: I found the whole subplot of whether the ton or any character in particular would find out what we the audience already know, that Pen is Lady Whistledown, kind of unnecessary. That said, I did like how both Penelope and Eloise are trying to find their way in a world where there are pretty limited options or role models for them.
Ruth: Strongly agree with you, Marina. And the issue I take with Eloise is she fails to see how Pen’s writing, albeit gossip, is her way of creating her own path merely because it’s not the same route that she’s taking. Was so nice to see the young boy at the printing shop call Eloise out for her biggest blind spot: seeing how her being a part of the nobility coming from a viscount family shields her from so much.
Erin: I think it’s really too early for anyone to know who Lady Whistledown is! It’s only Season 2 and aren’t we getting a zillion seasons of this? I did particularly love when Pen was like “Stop yelling at me!” to Eloise at one point. I cheered for her!
Marina: I loved Pen calling out Eloise for talking the talk but not walking the walk, like, “I’ve done something with my life, and you haven’t!”
Ruth: PERIOD, PEN! Chase a bag; don’t worry about what I’M doing!
So How Hot And Steamy Are We Getting Here?
Erin: I do think I liked Kate and Anthony together because they very much give the same exhausting energy, so they kind of need to exhaust each other out. Which is ... a good segue into talking about the lust and sexiness of this season.
Quite frankly, there was not nearly enough. We did get to see Viscount Anthony’s butt and Kate’s breasts, but like Daphne and ol’ boy got it IN. Like clutch my pearls got it in.
Ruth: I can’t unsee Jonathan Bailey from his character in Michaela Coel’s “Chewing Gum” — if you know, you know.
To be completely honest, I think we as a society were ... particularly feral during part one of the pandemic. Without boredom and solitude coalescing in 2020, plus what I call The Shonda Rhimes factor, I don’t think “Bridgerton” would be as popular as it is at all. Overall, S2 just felt like a lot of tense staring, bickering and nose-touching. Like are y’all gon’ do the deed or not?
Marina: Yes, all of the steaminess was almost entirely toward the end of the season! Too long of a wait. Too many dramatic glances and hinting at steamy moments to come. Give us what we want! Every time they were in a room alone, I thought, it’s happening! And then it didn’t.
Ruth: Simone Ashley is stunning and Bailey isn’t ugly, but come on. Let’s wrap it up.
Erin: So one side character who needs much more attention? Will Mondrich, the boxer. He had a whole side story going on and I admittedly have no clue what was happening with him. But he is FOINE. They coulda gave that man a sex scene! (But seriously I need one of y’all to explain what was going on with him and that bar.)
Ruth: OK SO, The Featheringtons!
Marina: Mama Featherington, specifically! So shady!
Erin: Yeah I tuned out every time they came on screen.
Ruth: Respectfully, I do not care about that raggedy family. Whether they’re broke and ostracized by society because they can’t pay the dowry is of no importance! And frankly, I lost track of how we got here. Lord Featherington ... died? Then with the hastiness surrounding Marina’s betrothal to Colin — and the fallout from that — they became outcasts?
Marina: Yeah, and also money. I get Mama Featherington needed to do what she had to do, given the constraints placed on women, and marriage being an economic proposition. As a widow, I guess she had to just hope her daughters married rich. Though I’m still not entirely sure I followed her entire scheme, and sort of lost interest over time. On a larger note, I didn’t really feel invested in any of the dramatic stakes of all of these subplots, for some reason. I found myself craving more drama.
This is a slight tangent, but Erin, as a fellow “Grey’s” watcher, I must reveal that during the disastrous Anthony/Edwina wedding, I really wanted a dramatic moment of someone cutting Edwina out of her dress. And then I promptly rewatched that scene from “Grey’s.”
Erin: OMG, now THAT would have been an iconic moment.
Marina: Obviously, Kate was not emotionally equipped to be the Meredith to Edwina’s Cristina in this particular moment of crisis.
The Small Details We Appreciated
Erin: Definitely not, LOL. Even though that was the type of drama I craved all season of this. OK, does anyone have any bright spots from this installment? I, again, absolutely loved all the wigs, and there was not a hair out of place all season. Even Kate’s post-coital look was phenomenal. What about for y’all?
Marina: I mentioned this already, but those needle drops! Or rather, string quartet drops?
Ruth: Gonna have to think hard about whether I actually enjoyed anything from this season, lol. Hold please! Beautiful gowns, beautiful gowns.
Marina: Always the gowns. And Dame Julie Andrews. (Dear readers, please read this entire story in her voice.)
Ruth: Oh, Marina’s return was a big moment. I highkey forgot about her but was pleased to see her drag Colin for filth.
Marina: I admit that I had forgotten about their subplot from Season 1 because it has been practically five years since December 2020. But yes, once I refreshed my memory, I was glad she got her moment of redemption.
Erin: Yeah, I definitely had an “oh, hey girrllll” moment when she popped up.
Ruth: Her telling him that she doesn’t need his apology and isn’t interested in forgiving him? What a moment. Stealing that line forever.
What Do We Hope Happens In Seasons 3 And 4?
Erin: So we already know that “Bridgerton” is getting a Season 3 and a Season 4. What do we want from the next installment?
Marina: I found myself wondering how much I care about the other Bridgertons, since we know each installment will focus on another Bridgerton sibling’s pursuit of love. But I’m excited to see what the show will be in the hands of a new showrunner, Jess Brownell, who’s one of the show’s writers and like many of the writers, a Shondaland veteran. I like Chris Van Dusen, but it’s always fun to see what happens when a showrunner hands over the reins of a show.
Erin: Oh nice, yes, I’d like to see how a new showrunner might take us in a new direction. But fully agree, I don’t even know who the other Bridgertons are exactly. And I am NOT watching a full season focusing on Eloise.
So, Should You Watch It?
Ruth: Die-hard stans, this is for you. For ambivalent Season 1 viewers, you can skip this. I don’t feel like I gained anything from watching Season 2. Didn’t miss a lot either.
Marina: It’s a yes for me. Despite its flaws and letdowns when compared to Season 1, it knows exactly what it’s doing, and I ate it up.
Erin: I’d say just go rewatch Season 1 instead. And if you’re THAT curious, watch Episode 1 and then the final two episodes of Season 2. You’ll miss a ton of plot developments in the middle, but even I can’t exactly tell you what happened then anyway.
Marina: Ooh, the final two episodes are really good. That’s a solid approach.
“Bridgerton” Season 2 premieres Friday on Netflix.