Like everyone else, we at Fangirlish can’t get enough of talking about Bridgerton‘s second season – the good and the bad. We’ll do a separate roundtable for the Kathony (or Kanthony) of it all (of course), but we wanted to take a few moments to break down the season as a whole.
Strictly speaking, Bridgerton’s second season isn’t so much an adaptation as a story loosely inspired by the novel. So I won’t ask how you liked it as an adaptation. How did you like it as a season of television? How did it compare to last season for you, in terms of your enjoyment?
Jade: Let’s be honest, the second season of Bridgerton wasn’t without its flaws. But I came hoping they’d do justice by Kate and Anthony’s love story, and for the most part, they did. I somehow came to love these two more than I had in the novel. Which I didn’t even think possible prior to watching. So while I recognize that the season had some flaws – some glaring flaws, at times (love triangle, I’m looking at you) – I enjoyed it. I probably enjoyed it more than the first season, just because I was so invested in Kathony’s love story. I could watch another 16 episodes of them just doing what they do.
Rachel: If I hadn’t read the book, I would still think season 2 relied too much on drama for the sake of drama. Since I HAVE read the book, it’s even more painful to think of what could have been. Especially when Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley have chemistry so rare that it cannot be measured. They saved the season for me. I think season 2 was about even with season 1 for me in terms of enjoyment but then Kathony elevates it. I have specific things to mention in the other questions here, but that’s what it comes down to for me: the Kathony chemistry as the saving grace. Barely.
Julie: I’m going to be in the minority here when I say that I absolutely loved this season. I know that it was not faithful to the series (which I have read, several times) at all, but there were so many elements that I love about the romance genre that had me positively giggling with joy. The UST between Anthony and Kate was better than almost anything I’ve seen on television before. Were there some things I didn’t like? Yes. But that show had a smile on my face for an entire day while I binged it, which to me is all I need.
There were a number of excellent character moments this season. Were there any characters you enjoyed more this season than you did last season? Were there any you liked less?
Jade: I actually think I liked most of the characters more this season than last. I loved Violet in the first season, but she really had a chance to shine this year. Daphne was fine last year, but she came into her own this season. Benedict was a delight. Colin had some growth. But if I had to pick one, I’d say Anthony. I enjoyed a few moments of him in the first season, but I really didn’t like the way he was written for the most part. But he blew me away this year. He’s my dumpster fire of a son, and I would protect him with my life. I don’t think there were any that I liked less this year than last.
Rachel: My feelings about all the characters stayed the same or improved for the most part this season. I don’t know how much we were supposed to LIKE Anthony in season 1 but this time the audience is given the chance to really come to care for him. I also really enjoyed spending more time with Benedict. Liked him before, love him now. Daphne also felt like a particular glow-up to me, especially as the only onscreen Kathony shipper. (Don’t get me started on that.) As for liking a character less…I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but…maybe Colin. I’m cringing because he is half of my fave Bridgerton ship but MAYBE him? He was still nice and he felt less like the gullible guy from season 1, which is good, but then the end of the final episode came and we got THAT scene. It’s hard to reconcile the two. (Plus, was I the only one who noticed all his drinking? I know it’s probably not going to be a thing in the show, but I noticed.)
Julie: Anthony was a pain in the butt last season, but he was an absolutely wonderful romance hero in S2. Like to die for. Those flashback scenes in ep. 3 gave us so much insight into why he is the way he is. I fell in love with him all over again, this time on screen. And of course I’m going to mention Benedict. Watching his facial expressions and silliness in the background of every scene he was in made the season that much better. I can’t wait to see his season!
Edwina is a very divisive character this season. What were your thoughts on her character?
Jade: First, I want to say I have a great deal of sympathy for the actress. She played the role she was given to the best of her ability, and it wasn’t her fault that her role was a rather thankless one. As for the character herself, I quite liked her for most of the season. She came off as young and naive. Perhaps overly sheltered. And maybe even expecting real life to be like a romance novel. In a way, she gave me Marianne in Sense and Sensibility vibes, just as Kate reminded me of Elinor. There was a point at which I feel like they took things a step too far. They should have ended things an episode sooner – both in terms of the love triangle and the fallout. I do think she was entitled to a certain measure of anger and betrayal, particularly given her level of humiliation at how things played out. I think the writing veered a little toward petulance and cruelty, at times, however, and that’s giving the character a rather thankless ending to a rather thankless arc. I don’t hate her, but I think one or two small tweaks would have made her character stronger.
Rachel: So, Edwina…whoo boy. The character started off likeable, despite being naive and, dare I say it, a bit insipid. Charithra Chandran played all this perfectly. Then the writing mistakes came into play. This is a ROMANCE anthology show, and the writers should NEVER have treated Edwina as a third lead. It was a fundamental flaw. I wanted to like her so much because I like book Edwina, but the cheap plot device of the love triangle served to hamstring the character and change her into someone unlikeable. Being angry is justified, being cruel is not. We’ve just watched as Kate put Edwina first time and again, so Edwina’s descent into brattiness was tough to watch. Yes, she just had to stop her own wedding which must have been embarrassing but STILL. I was glad to see the sisters begin to repair their relationship in the finale and I hope if we see Edwina in season 3, the writers improve their handling of the character.
Julie: This one is a tough one. I actually really liked Edwina, and I agree with those above that they should have eased off on her rage levels a bit at the end and it would have been better. She had reasons to be angry. Edwina was lied to, and often. She was publicly humiliated. And not to mention that Anthony totally led her on and should not have proposed when he had feelings for her sister. I can’t imagine how he would ever thought that it would end well. The thing is, we can be annoyed with Edwina for some of her words and actions in the later season, but honestly I don’t know how any of us would have reacted in the same situation.
Outside of Kate and Anthony (who warrant their own roundtable), who was your favorite character this season and why?
Jade: Oof. That’s a hard one, because I loved so many of them. But if I have to choose just one, I’m going with Violet. The actress played her with such depth and subtlety at times (such as her reaction to hearing Anthony doesn’t want to marry for love). Her last heart-to-heart with Anthony was an absolute highlight of the season and broke my heart. She was everything this year, and I adored her.
Rachel: I think for me, my favorite character this season is a tie. Penelope will always have my emotional investment and loyalty. It was thrilling to see her be such a confident businesswoman, and then it was heart-wrenching to watch the writers put her into ANOTHER impossible situation with Lady Whistledown and have her end the season with nothing and no one. I need to know when they are going to stop using her as their favorite punching bag. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed Benedict this season from beginning to end. The humor and his conversations with Anthony all played into the feeling that I want to see more of him. Can’t choose between the two.
Julie: Like Rachel, Penelope will always be my favorite. I enjoyed her little Irish accents that she used when she was undercover. And my heart broke for her when she overheard what Colin said at the end, and her fight with Eloise. I don’t necessarily love all the things the writers put her through, but I love Penelope forever. I think it was neat this season how they teased a softer look for Penelope, like when she was writing or going to bed. She was wearing less garish clothing and her hair was down. There were a few times when I was like “she looks so beautiful right now.” I cannot wait until she gets to style herself instead of having her mom do it. And Colin is going to fall…hard.
There were a few major stories carried throughout this season. How did you feel about the Lord and Lady Featherington plot? Did it work for you? Why do you think it took such prominence in the season?
Jade: Because they had the actors so they needed to justify it? I struggle with this one. To be fair, I didn’t hate the plot, I guess. I mean, I hated Lord Featherington because he was skeezy. And I liked the way Colin tied in with the plot in the end. But other than that…I really didn’t care that much about the plot. I appreciate that Lady Featherington is cunning and that we saw that she loves her daughters (two of them, at least). In her own way, that is. But for the most part, whenever we were on the Featherington plot, I was eagerly waiting to return to Kate and Anthony. I’m a woman of simple tastes, and Kate and Anthony own me. They own me.
Rachel: The Featherington plot this season felt like filler to me, for the most part. It was fine to watch, overall, particularly Portia’s part of it. Polly Walker really owns this character. The resolution, with Colin and Portia both stepping up, was the most enjoyable part. Thinking back over the whole season, I didn’t feel like it took prominence to the point of upstaging Kathony, though. NOTHING can do that!
Julie: Look, they had to add in other plots or we would all combust from the UST from Kanthony. I thought the whole thing was interesting, especially how Colin handled it in the end. I also liked that Portia ultimately chose her daughters over running away with all that money.
Were you invested in Eloise’s plot with Theo this year? Did you buy their kinda-sorta romance?
Jade: Elose was, to be frank, a bit frustrating to me this year. Not always in a bad way, but sometimes. I do love her quite a lot, and I was glad to see her doing her own thing. But I couldn’t help but feel that, well…she kinda played with fire and got burned. Granted, society shouldn’t treat women the way it did. But whether it should or shouldn’t doesn’t change reality. Eloise knew the risks she was taking, she took them anyway, and she ended up getting into way deeper water than she was prepared to face. And she was even taking these risks during a time that she knew her family was under greater scrutiny and on the brink of ruin. So I didn’t really buy their kinda-sorta romance because I had a hard time thinking Eloise would risk what she did just to know how Theo felt about her. I’m not saying it wasn’t a question that wouldn’t have plagued her. It was totally in-character for it to do so. But I would think she would have been at least more judicious with her timing.
Rachel: Not really to both questions. I agree with what Jade has to say about Eloise in general. I don’t think she appreciated the full picture of what she was doing, and she and Theo together just didn’t generate much interest from me.
Julie: I also wasn’t a big Eloise fan this season, sadly. I’m guessing they brought the Theo plotline in because she has been so anti-romance and giving her a little experience might help her be open for it when her season comes around.
At the end of the season, Eloise and Penelope had a falling out. How do you feel about Pen’s actions as Lady Whistledown? Do you think she did the right thing?
Jade: I think (or, rather, I know) Penelope will get slammed in fandom yet again for her actions as Lady Whistledown. And yet again, I don’t think that criticism is entirely fair. I’ve seen it alleged that she revealed Eloise’s secret to protect herself in some way, but I think the show took great pains in at least three conversations to make it clear that wasn’t the case. She revealed Eloise’s secret to protect her from the Queen. Because Eloise’s time had come out, and she was facing a very real threat that was far greater than a little scandal. And this, after trying desperately to find another way. She was also willing to give up Lady Whistledown after, to continue to protect Eloise.
It may not have been the ideal thing to do, but was she supposed to keep silent and let Eloise remain in the Queen’s crosshairs – with her life as well as her reputation at risk? I’m sad about what Lady W wrote about Eloise. I’m gutted by the fallout. But her act of seeming betrayal was, in a strange sense, really an act of love. And I appreciate that, at least.
Rachel: This may be the biggest thing I want to yell at the writers for. I can ALMOST imagine an argument for the love triangle thing in terms of TV writing, but this? Villainizing Penelope AGAIN and stripping her of EVERYTHING in life that she holds dear? It’s indescribably horrible to me. I think Pen did what she thought was the only thing she could do under the circumstances, just like the Marina situation of season 1, and that her heart was ALWAYS in the right place. The writers seem fixated on providing tangible reasons for people to hate Lady Whistledown at the expense of Penelope’s character. They seem so obsessed with the idea of “scandal” that they’re heaping excessive pain on a character they may not be able to make up for. And I hate it.
Julie: That fight made me so sad. As a book reader, one of the things I always felt robbed of in the series was that we never got Eloise’s reaction to Pen’s Whistledown news. I always thought her friend would be proud of her. But the writers gave us…not that. Penelope was put in a lose-lose situation once again. I think she made the best choice. I think ultimately Eloise will forgive her because she really hated being out in society anyway, and this gives her an excuse to not have to participate.