Caitlin Ariel ’24
After it was announced in April 2021 that the Duke of Hastings (played by Regé-Jean Page) would not be returning for the highly anticipated second season of Netflix’s hit period drama Bridgerton, fans were left puzzled for nearly a year as to how the show would continue without one of its debut season’s main characters. Bridgerton’s sophomore season, which aired on March 25, responded to this confusion by entangling fans in a new love story. With the absence of eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), now a duchess, the pressure falls upon the family’s eldest son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), also known as Viscount Bridgerton, to find a wife.
Bridgerton’s second season details many of the same high-society rituals as its debut run, but keeps things fresh with some new faces. For instance, before throwing himself into a flurry of balls and promenades, Anthony meets a mysterious woman (Simone Ashley) while going for a morning horseback ride. The banter they share excites him, but he puts it out of his mind as he prepares for his first ball of the season.
At the ball, Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) is declared “the diamond” of the season—as Daphne was in season one—and Anthony is determined to make her his wife. However, one roadblock stands in his way: he must win the approval of Edwina’s sister before a courtship can ensue. Unfortunately for Anthony, when he is introduced to Edwina’s sister, he realizes that she is the intriguing stranger from that morning, Kate Sharma, who overhears him remarking to his friends at the ball that he does not want to marry for love, but rather only to find someone to lead his family alongside him and have his children. Kate, who only wants Edwina to marry for love, becomes enraged, and she and Anthony quickly become mortal enemies.
Bridgerton’s second season also features the return of Lady Whistledown, the Gossip Girl-esque author of the series’ infamous gossip pamphlet. The Lady has new energy in the wake of the season one finale, in which viewers discover her identity. For one, she tries to evade the Queen (Golda Rosheuvel) and Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) as they become more observant in their hunt to discover who is behind the gossip that has the town buzzing.
The season also includes subplots with the Featheringtons and the other Brigderton brothers, but Anthony’s love story dominates the season. Notably, though, the hypersexual chaos of season one that made viewers avoid watching the show with their families is much more restrained in season two, as viewers experience a satisfying slow burn between Kate and Anthony. The epitome of the popular enemies-to-lovers trope, Kate and Anthony’s constant tension as well as love-struck Edwina’s naiveness make the eight-episode show difficult not to binge, and fans agree: according to Variety, the period piece scored 193 million hours viewed during its premiere weekend and continues to sit comfortably at number one on Netflix’s list of the most popular English-language shows.
Already renewed for a third and fourth season, the show is set to follow the eight-novel series on which it is based, ensuring many more balls, beautiful dresses, and classical versions of America’s favorite pop songs in fans’ futures.
Season two of Bridgerton is streaming now on Netflix.