Capital R Rake
Off to the Races
A Been In Your Bonnet
An Unthinkable Fate
The Viscount Who Loved Me
When Bridgerton dropped on Netflix in 2020, it became a surprise pop sensation. With numerous award nominations, lavish costume design and a pretty big viewership, it came as no surprise to anyone in TV land that Netflix decided to renew this one.
For anyone who read my season 1 review and subsequent recaps, I wasn’t wrapped up in the magic of it all. There were moments of brilliance in this period drama no doubt, but the overlong run-time felt meandering at times, not helped by a smattering of subplots that felt underdeveloped and lacked substance. Does season 2 rectify those issues? Well… yes and no.
The main romance this time between Anthony and Kate is going to be a big talking point and honestly, their chemistry is off the charts. While they may not have the same gorgeous looks of Simon Bassett (subjectively of course), Anthony and Kate more than make up for that with their lustful longing gazes and various verbal duals.
Some of the material these two have to work with is so well written and easily the highlight of the whole show. However, this isn’t a straightforward fairy-tale romance like the first season was.
Instead, Bridgerton tackles the oft-overused love triangle trope but manages to spice things up nicely with a distinct lack of misunderstandings thrown in.
Sure, there’s the sudden events that stop Kate and Anthony from kissing but instead, that’s replaced by a much more palpable and enjoyable romantic drama. The crux of the issue here stems from Kate’s sister Edwina, who is promised to wed Anthony and the pair look set to start their betrothal.
Only, Anthony has no romantic feelings toward her and simply sees this as a way of doing his family’s duty. So when he starts to fall for Kate, things take a wild turn and the whole thing sets up a scandalous affair that looks set to explode at any moment.
Most of this season tackles their romance and helps to flesh both characters out. We get some much-needed flashbacks looking at Anthony’s past in episode 4, while some rare bouts of vulnerability late on from both Kate and Anthony does absolute wonders for both their characters.
Likewise, Penelope gets a good amount of development this year too. After the reveal that she’s Lady Whistledown, there was always the danger that this story would sour. Instead, she spends most of the season trying to avoid suspicion while also showing how sneaky she’s been to get the news out and keep up her alter-ego going.
However, Pen’s problems are exacerbated when the Queen remains dead-set on figuring out who Lady Whistledown is, setting a trap to ensnare whomever this may be.
With episodes clocking in at upwards of 75 minutes, there’s an awful lot of run-time to fill and unfortunately alongside these two storylines, the show continues to meander through subplots that don’t really add anything to the show.
Will Mondrich opens up a Gentleman’s Club and the whole angle is just…boring. Nothing of note happens and it feels like a way of giving the men something to do.
Likewise, Benedict and Colin both have interesting enough angles but their development doesn’t really lend itself to anything other than a juxtaposition of their fate compared to Anthony.
There’s also a subplot involving the Featherington family but outside of Penelope and what’s going on with her, the whole thing just feels like a waste.
The few ideas about class and how they’re faring compared to the Bridgertons is largely reduced to comedic quips and one long, drawn out story that goes nowhere.
This is by far the biggest disappointment when it comes to subplots to be honest, given there’s actually some potential and a good deal of build-up. But after what is essentially a marginally longer story than season 1, the time spent with these guys doesn’t justify the obvious outcome.
The lavish production design and costuming are both as exquisite as they were the first time around and there’s no doubt that this is one good looking show.
The classical renditions of pop songs are still here but this time it does feel a tad overkill at times. That goes for a couple of cheeky fourth wall breaking moments which feel really oddly placed too.
In episode 1 Lady Danbury straight up mentions how lots has changed compared to last season. While it’s befitting for the scene, it also feels like a subtle jab at the audience to relieve their Simon Bassett hangover.
At the end of the day, Bridgerton is still a frothy, cliched soap opera dressed as a period drama. There’s the usual tropes, ideas and character squabbles you’d expect but this time with two excellent storylines propping up a couple of meandering subplots.
Thankfully, the icy cold depths of those stories are combatted by the red hot passion and intensity fuelling Kate and Anthony’s love. That was what kept me invested right the way through the show and undoubtedly will be what keeps you watching until the end.
Season 2 is not perfect, and pacing issues are something a lot of Shondaland productions have suffered with. Bridgerton is no exception. However, the added dose of tense drama and a red hot romance make this a guilty pleasure follow-up that’s a marginal improvement over the first.
Bridgerton Season 2 releases this Friday 25th March on Netflix worldwide!
Verdict - 7/10