Bridgerton is back and yes, it has fewer sex scenes than the first season. But when it comes to romance and chemistry, the heated gazes, sharp-edged banter, and pure yearning between Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma more than makeup for it.
A good, believable romance only works when the anticipation builds up just right, whether there are explicit sexual moments or not. So why is it superior to Season 1?
Bridgerton‘s most complex character Anthony intends to find a wife. But he has no intention of looking for a love match, as he had declared at the end of the previous season. He is getting married for the sake of fulfilling his duty. In order to do so, he plans to marry the woman who is best suited to take on the role of Viscountess.
Inevitably, when Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) names Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran), who has just arrived in London with her family from India, the diamond of the season, Anthony is set on marrying her. Just one obstacle stands in the way: Edwina’s older sister, Miss Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley). Smart, headstrong, and independent, Kate is determined to find Edwina a true love match and is opposed to Anthony’s courtship.
Of course, it’s evident that Kate and Anthony share an undeniable chemistry. The enemies to lovers arc is clear from their first scene when Anthony encounters her horse riding in the woods. Bridgerton manages to keep us on the edge of our seats with a wonderfully crafted slow-burn romance in which we see the leads declare their love for each other.
It’s all about emotional intimacy, and Bridgerton season two has a lot of it. Anthony and Kate’s vulnerability is first displayed in the bee-sting scene. Despite not liking each other (apparently), Anthony’s trauma-based panic and Kate’s tender response, letting him feel her heartbeat and breathing with him forehead-to-forehead, are shockingly intimate for two closed-off characters. From there, we proceed to some close proximity, tension-filled dance scenes, and heated arguments.
Anthony is an incredible and compelling protagonist for this second season, not only because of his love story but also because the focus on him allows us to delve deeper into his character. We see a young Anthony witnessing his father’s death and taking on responsibility for his entire family through some well-crafted flashbacks.
Anthony’s outspoken demeanour makes it difficult to empathise with his struggle at first, while his stubborn, misguided demeanour makes it easy to see him through Kate’s eyes as an obstinate, misguided young man unworthy of her sister’s affections. Viewers’ perceptions of the eldest Bridgerton sibling will be turned upside down when they learn about the trauma he has undergone, which explains why he is the way he is as he continues to cope with the loss of his father and all of the added pressure that comes with such a prestigious position.
Kate and Anthony’s chemistry evolves over a breathlessly maddening slow-burn, full of heated glances, near-kisses, and seductive, tortured whispers. When we finally get to the sex — seven episodes into an eight-episode season — it’s so hot and explosive that we have to fan ourselves. It’s worth the wait.
Simone’s portrayal of Kate plays true to her intimidating image, as she relishes putting Anthony in his place – one of the few individuals who has ever done so – and is always on hand to give him a harsh reality check.
Meanwhile, behind closed doors, mayhem is brewing with Penelope having to go to great lengths to ensure Lady Whistledown’s secret identity is preserved, Benedict Bridgerton (Luke Thompson) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) fighting for their own paths, and Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) continually challenging the restrictive life she has been born into.
One of the most stunning and impressive aspects of the show, as usual, is its visuals. And season two does not disappoint: Through its beautifully composed shots – such as the memorable bee sting sequence or when Anthony is drawn to Kate during the wedding ceremony rather than to Edwina, and therefore the camera pulls attention to the former – and compelling mise-en-scénce, Bridgerton once again manages to transport the audience into its world and makes all of us wish we were attending one of those balls ourselves.
On the topic of balls, I have always thought that it is the masterfully arranged spectacular ball scenes that create the most interesting and beautiful moments. The last ball of this season was especially significant since Kate and Anthony finally put themselves first and danced together as if no one was watching. This was accompanied by a string arrangement of Wrecking Ball playing in the background. 10/10.
The second season of Bridgerton definitely earned its place in the hearts of audiences, reaffirming the unmatched charm, suspense, and scandal of the Regency-era atmosphere that Bridgerton has become known for. Dare I say, it was better than the first season, Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey’s chemistry is unmatched. I can’t wait to see what comes next for our Viscount and Viscountess.
Image courtesy of Charles Deluvio