sun 29/05/2022

Bridgerton, Season 2, Netflix review - power politics and love triangles as Regency fantasy returns | reviews, news & interviews

Bridgerton, Season 2, Netflix review - power politics and love triangles as Regency fantasy returns

Bridgerton, Season 2, Netflix review - power politics and love triangles as Regency fantasy returns

No Duke of Hastings and not much sex doesn't bode well

Happiness is a warm gun: Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) and Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey)

The first series of Bridgerton (Netflix) became a ratings-blasting sensation because of the way it thrust a boldly multiracial cast into the midst of a Regency costume drama, and because of the camera-hogging presence of Regé-Jean Page as the swashbuckling Duke of Hastings. Above all, it had countless astonishingly graphic sex scenes.

In season two, there’s no Duke of Hastings and shockingly little sex, so many original viewers may find themselves feeling that they’re getting noticeably less bang (if you will) for their buck. This time around, the action centres on Viscount Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) as he combs London’s high society in search of a bride who he feels can match his lofty expectations. A demanding, rather self-important young fellow, he has no hesitation in firing a check-list of personal questions at potential candidates while he plies them with champagne or whirls them around the dancefloor – do they know many languages, perhaps including classical Greek? Are they interested in literature? Can they play musical instruments? It’s not a love-match he’s looking for, but a safe investment that will preserve and enhance the dynastic line. Meanwhile for light relief, he disports himself with sex workers (as they weren’t called in 1814).Bridgerton, Season 2, Netflix Major new arrivals this season are the Sharma family from Bombay, daughters Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina (Charithra Chandran) with their mother Lady Mary (Shelley Conn). The latter’s marriage to a mere clerk – now dead – who already had a daughter has left her under a lingering miasma of doubt, socially speaking.

However, Kate has made it her mission to find an advantageous match for her younger sister Edwina, since such a union will trigger the delivery of a handsome inheritance, and has helped educate her with a battery of accomplishments which more than fulfil Anthony Bridgerton’s expectations. Potentially, it looks like a match made in aristo-heaven, except for the small impediment that Kate and Anthony loathe each other on sight (Kate is well aware of Anthony’s “dubious and libertine reputation”). So much so that she forbids Edwina to go anywhere near him.

But all plans go steadily pear-shaped, and the way the relationship between the Viscount and the Sharma daughters develops afford plenty of dramatic light and shade, especially when it turns out that Kate is an expert on horses and horse-racing (one might even detect a nod to the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady here) as well as an accomplished stag-hunter.

Around them, there are strong performances from Golda Rosheuvel as the wily and worldly Queen Charlotte, ruling over her court with a mixture of guile and brute force, and she resumes her sparky relationship with Lady Danbury, who is hosting the Sharmas in London. Danbury is brilliantly played by Adjoa Andoh as a battle-hardened doyenne of decades of aristocratic infighting and bitter power struggles, moving the chess pieces around with a firm but not unsympathetic hand (pictured above, Rosheuvel and Andoh).

Bridgerton, Season 2, Netflix The show’s ongoing theme of the fictional “Lady Whistledown” (who is in fact Penelope Featherington), who publishes an avidly-read scandal sheet peppered with salacious titbits of society gossip and scandal, doesn’t feel so compelling second time around. That’s because it’s increasingly hard to believe that Penelope could keep churning it out so quickly or that nobody in such a suspicious and conspiratorial society has twigged her identity yet.

We also get the further tragi-comic travails of the Featherington family, as distressed matriarch Portia (Polly Walker) desperately tries to salvage the family fortunes as the tottering Featherington dynasty falls into the hands of cousin Jack. Portia's apparent success in manipulating daughter Prudence (Bessie Carter, pictured above with Walker) into a shotgun wedding is swiftly revealed as a ghastly blunder. Bridgerton 2 is all fine escapist fun, and it’s probably more tightly-written than the first series, but its revised format lacks the shock-and-awe impact of its predecessor.

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