Netflix UK TV review: Bridgerton Season 2
Charlotte Harrison | On 29, Mar 2022
Not caught up with Bridgerton Season 1? Read our spoiler-free review of the first season here.
About 15 months since it became a global sensation, Netflix’s Regency-era life raft for those in UK navigating the choppy turmoil of Covid-19 lockdowns, Bridgerton is back for Season 2. With them now happily married with their first child, our focus in no longer on Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Duke Simon (Regé-Jean Page). Instead it’s the turn of another Bridgerton sibling, Lord Anthony (Jonathan Bailey). He’s decided that this will be the season he does the right thing and gets married. Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) could be the perfect bride, but he’ll have to charm her old sister, Kate (Simone Ashley), first.
There’s a lot of joy to be had here. The costumes are sumptuous, the sets are stunning and the cast are gorgeous. The story is a mix of enemies-to-lovers meets Taming of the Shrew, with our leads so compelling that it’s impossible to not feel invested in their stories. There are also several strands of compelling B-plots and a smattering of seeds being planted for the already-commissioned third and fourth season. But there’s always a but, isn’t there…?
Perhaps the absence of but is Season 2’s underlying problem. Bridgerton’s first season become such a sensation due to its steamy melodrama, its beautifully staged romps soundtracked to orchestral covers of Taylor Swift. It was the story of Daphne’s discovery of self and sexuality, with roguish Simon’s mere licking of a spoon inducing swoons across the nation. There’s a whiplash-inducing tonal shift here, as we go to something more innocent – barely concealed longing that’s forcibly repressed. The storyline of the book it is based on, The Viscount Who Loved Me, is swiftly abandoned in favour of angsty looks and brushes of the hand. Bailey does it so charismatically, as do both Chandran and Ashley – it also feels incredibly important to acknowledge the importance of this season’s South Asian representation and having an out gay man in a lead romantic role.
Yet it all feels a little less fun, more sweet than saucy. All our leads, and the majority of the subplots, are about responsibility and what it means to be a grown-up. In comparison to the frivolity of Season 1, it’s hard not to feel short-changed by Season 2, especially when the final five minutes tease what we could – or should – have had all along.