Bridgerton’s debut season set the world on fire when it debuted all the way back in December of 2020, which at this point seems like a distant memory. Much ado has been made about breakout star Rege-Jean Page not returning even for a reduced role, but there is very good reasoning regardless. The Netflix series is based on the books by Julia Quinn that cover a steamy love for each Bridgerton sibling; season two adapts book two in her Bridgerton series, titled The Viscount Who Loved Me. As it shifts focus from Daphne Bridgerton to her hot brother Anthony, so too does this sophomore effort from Shondaland. Any qualms about consistency or repetition can be put to rest, as Anthony’s love story is singular and engaging in an entirely different way from Daphne’s. Bridgerton again delivers bold swoon-worthy moments, juicy drama, and Julie Andrews sassing it up as the voice of Lady Whistledown.

As the eldest son of the Bridgerton family, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) has certain standards to uphold when it comes to securing a wife. He has no interest in the fairy tale of true love, despite his younger sister’s success with Simon. The season begins as the Bridgertons host an event to help Anthony find a lady; concurrently, the Sharma family arrives from India. The older sister, Kate (Simone Ashley) has one mission in mind: wedding her sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) to a worthy Englishman. Unbeknownst to Edwina, there are deeper reasons for the Sharma family’s return.

The arrival of the Sharmas catches the eye of both Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) and Lady Whistledown’s gossip-rag, who instantly snatch up Edwina as their new subject of the “season.” Referring to the “season” in passing gives Bridgerton’s newest an often meta feel that is as cleverly scripted as one would hope. Anthony makes it his mission to spark a relationship with Edwina, as Kate valiantly protests his every move. The chemistry between Anthony and Kate is palpable from early on, with the forbidden element of their romance adding an extra layer of sexiness. Anthony is quite cocky and always needs to be right, whilst Kate matches his energy and passion for life. In a pivotal scene from the first episode, Kate overhears Anthony demeaning a love-based relationship out on the terrace, and continues to lord it over him for the majority of their interactions. Kate wants more for Edwina than a simple, loveless match.

Whistledown’s reemergence catches the attention of Eloise anew, who will stop at nothing to unearth the true identity of this Netflix Gossip Girl. Queen Charlotte also circles Whistledown, desperately trying to set a trap. Tensions mount between Eloise and bestie Penelope, who viewers may remember was revealed as Lady Whistledown in last season’s finale. This angle, as in the first season, falls secondary to the will-they-or-won’t-they relationship at the center of this story, this time choosing to focus on Anthony and Kate.

Trademarks of Bridgerton return that made me fall head-over-heels for this show in the first place, primary of which are the anachronistic song instrumentals. We are gifted nearly a dozen excellent song choices, including “Dancing On My Own,” “Wrecking Ball,” and “You Outta Know.” The sizzling eroticism returns in far less intense fashion, only rearing its head in the last couple episodes. However, this serves to make the sequences explosive when they do actually happen. There is built-up lust and desire that requires passionate release, and thankfully that is exactly what eventually occurs. All the various plots come to a head in the finale, with just enough left dangling to pick us up in the following book’s premise.

Viewers should know ahead of season two that Anthony and Kate are not Daphne and Simon. Each are complex in their own way, with Anthony haunted by the sudden death of his father, and Kate feeling drowned by her unfortunate familial ties. One thing both do have in common is the conclusion that strong relationships require constantly challenging one another, and the element of surprise. An “agreeable” choice may not necessarily be the best option. Sometimes the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest, but the heart wants what the heart wants. For those worried about the prospect of the eight Bridgerton novels being cinematically realized, rest assured that Netflix has already renewed the show for seasons three and four.

Bridgerton’s second season spreads the gospel of Lady Whistledown when it debuts all eight episodes to Netflix on Friday, March 25th.

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