TV Review: Bridgerton (Series 2)

I finally get around to Series 2 of Bridgerton and it’s…fine?

“There is no room for indifference”

Series 2 of Netflix’s Bridgerton was released a couple of years ago now but even with the romantic travails of Jonathan Bailey’s Anthony leading the charge, it has taken me this long to get around to watching it. The sexy soapiness of the first series did certainly appeal to me so I’m hard-pressed to fully explain why but in working my way through this second season, I think it is partly to do with writing that rarely stands out.

With 8 Bridgerton siblings, plus associated friends, foes and footmen, the ensemble at play here is huge, even with Regé-Jean Page opting out of returning as the Duke of Hastings (Phoebe Dynevor’s Daphne dips in and out as a supporting player). Establishing storylines to include them all, alongside the main thrust Anthony’s burgeoning relationships with the Sharma sisters Edwina and Kate, means so much feels thin and underexplored and consequently easy to have on in the background rather than fully engaging its audience.

A further element of this is its surface-level plotting, with hardly any ramifications for heinous actions carried out by characters. Polly Walker is always great fun as Portia but the ease with which she’s willing to financially fleece anyone and everyone in society (and does!) feels a hard ask to accept for the Featherington matriarch. The lack of exploration of the implications of Anthony marrying so far out of his social strata feels a missed opportunity. And why does Edwina acclaim Kate so in matters of love and marriage given her inexperience therein.

There’s huge amounts of possibly taking things too seriously here but that’s where my mind went. Adjoa Andoh and Golda Rosheuvel remain good fun as Lady Danbury and Queen Charlotte respectively, Claudia Jessie makes real impact as the rebellious Eloise but Lukes Thompson and Newton are under-served as Benedict and Colin, casualties of the structure that dictates their main storylines will come in later series. The revelation of Nicola Coughlan’s Penelope as scandalmonger Lady Whistledown feels a bit of a headscratcher too, the ramifications of the immense power she wields allowed to pass by a bit too easily.

Charithra Chandran and Simone Ashley are bright additions though as Edwina and Kate, the former prepped to be the perfect match for Jonathan Bailey’s Anthony but the latter being the one whose head and heart is genuinely turned (it’s a shame she doesn’t get to say ‘I vant to be alone with my viscount…’). It’s all perfectly watchable but in more of a wallpaper way than I was anticipating, Chris Van Dusen’s show lacking something of that killer edge to make it truly compulsive for me.

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