Bridgerton Season 2 is many things all at once. It’s fun, it’s chaotic, it’s dynamic, it’s infuriating, it’s romantic and at times it’s everything we wanted it to be. At others, however, the show falls far short of our expectations, and that is mainly for one reason: Bridgerton Season 2 is very much not an adaptation of The Viscount Who Loved Me. If anything, season 2 is loosely inspired by the book, and nothing more.
Think of it like fanfiction. These are the same characters – or at least, their personalities are the same – but they’re being put in some new, at times very dramatic, situations. A lot of those situations ring true to the characters we knew from the book, while others have us shaking our head and wondering who these people are. That, in a way, is the danger of any adaptation. You can’t please everyone and there’s something to be said for not even trying.
But it’s hard to separate the season from what could have been as we examine what it ended up being, particularly considering that above all, Bridgerton Season 2 is a showcase for two very talented actors, with palpable chemistry. Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley steal every scene they’re in separately, but when they’re together, it’s not even sparks – it’s an outright fire.
Ashley does more in silence, with a look, a sigh. Bailey, instead, gets to do much more speaking, as Anthony puts his feelings – right or wrong – out there at every turn. That is the benefit of being a man in any era, but particularly in the Regency era. But when Kate and Anthony are together, the dynamics flip. He turns more introspective, she takes the initiative much more, and it’s such a revelation to see how the right person can change so much about the way you see the world. That part, Bridgerton Season 2 absolutely nails, or perhaps, the actors absolutely nail.
Still, there’s a deep longing for what could have been to their interactions, and perhaps this is the fate of every romance reader, to want more of the main couple. Bridgerton Season 2 definitely leaves you wanting more of Kate and Anthony – in every respect. Hopefully, this just means that the series understands that a couple like them needs to be present for what we hope is six more seasons. Perhaps that’ll be enough to satisfy us, though we’re not sure.
Bridgerton Season 2 truly hits it out of the park in some respects, though. Daphne Bridgerton is, perhaps, even better in Season 2 than Season 1, and that’s a high bar for a character that absolutely charmed us as a leading lady. Same goes for a Benedict Bridgerton who gets the best possible setup to his own season, and who might, perhaps, have the best storyline (and some of the best non-Kathony moments) in the entire season. And, in general, the Bridgerton family, separately, and as the unit they have always known how to be, get to shine even more than in Season 1.
All of them, truly, but Violet Bridgerton? Is it possible to love her more? I cannot even conceive how.
Not every storyline is as satisfying as the Bridgerton family one, however. The Sharmas get some much-needed depth, but their storyline at times feels rushed and not nearly as well developed as it should have been. Edwina also gets a lot more screen time than book time, but that isn’t always to the character’s benefit — even if Charithra Chandran does her absolute best with the material she’s got. Then there’s the Featheringtons, and sadly – despite some great performances – other than Penelope, we still don’t much care for their exploits.
All in all, Season 2 features some outstanding moments, and some outstanding performances, but the pacing feels off, with entire episodes that don’t work to complement others that feel like they work in every respect. That, plus some questionable plot-decisions leave the season feeling underwhelming, even if you look at it as a completely separate thing from the book — which you absolutely should, if you want to enjoy it.
The acting is as top-notch as it was in Season 1, and the supporting cast at times carries the show without any trouble, but the individual pieces never gel as well as they do in Season 1, despite a leading man and a leading lady that do absolutely all they can to make the season successful.
For them, the season might be worth a re-watch. Some parts, however, will probably be a skip no matter how many times we feel like re-watching the Kathony scenes. And for a show that had everything to be a win in all respects, that’s a damn shame.
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Bridgerton Season 2 premieres on Netflix March 25th.