Netflix’s Bridgerton Season 2 just dropped. At the stroke of 1:30 pm (IST), the Sharma family pulled over in their carriage and into our hearts, and transported us back into the dreamy, almost surreal world of balls and all things beautiful we’ve come to call ‘Shondaland ‘. And balls there are plenty, one way or another.
Shonda Rhimes sticks firmly to her pursuit of shattering stereotypes, this time bringing an Indian family from Bombay (Mumbai), Maharashtra into London’s elite society. The void that Regé-Jean Page’s (Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings) absence created – in terms of representation – was filled up quite well by the presence of Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma. Together with Chaithra Chandran as Edwina, her sister de ella, and Shelly Conn as Mary, their mother de ella, they ‘get off the ship’-a metaphor used pragmatically in the series-and walk right into Lady Danbury’s home. Adjoa Andoh obviously reprises her role as the razor-tongued Lady Danbury. They bring with them secrets to further the plot, as well as a sharp contrast to the previous lead pair’s coy-girl flamboyant-man combination. More on that later.
But Kate Sharma is not the ‘diamond’ this ton season, her younger sister Edwina Sharma is. Kate simply wants her beloved younger sibling to find a suitable match in an Englishman of nobility, one that’s tied together with love, admiration and mutual respect. As for her de ella, she wants to head back to India, and live alone as a governess. Perhaps a much-needed hint to the audience lest they fall too hard for her, as they did for Regé, only to be disappointed later if she doesn’t return for Season 3. If Bridgerton’s history tells us anything, that’s what will happen.
But while Kate may not return, Lady Whistledown certainly does. Season 1 finale had already revealed Penelope Featherington as London’s most-loved most-hated gossip writer, but let’s just say this revelation will only add to poor Pen’s woes. Yes, Colin Bridgerton returns from his travels from him, but Pen’s from her love life does n’t seem as sunny as the sunshine-yellow gowns her from Mumma from her, Lady Portia Featherington, still makes her wear.
Where Bridgerton Season 2, not so much as differs as it evolves from Season 1, is in its women characters. Credit, of course, goes to Julia Quinn’s impeccable source material. Kate is nothing like Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor). And Jonathan Bailey’s Anthony Bridgerton is not a shadow of the Duke of Hastings either. Even the attempt to marry has shifted genders-Anthony wants a wife because it’s his duty from him, unlike the Duke of Season yore, while Kate is invested in the ‘rich men wooing comely young ladies’ game only for her sister from her. She’s rather happy to be considered ‘older’ at 26 because that means fewer suitors.
So Anthony tries to woe this season’s ‘diamond’, Edwina, while Kate does everything in her power to stop this match for she firmly believes he isn’t a good one. And thus he starts a repartee that’s most enjoyable for the audience.
Their bickering chemistry, however, could burst open the stable gates! Banter is something we saw in the first season, but this is different. It has more teeth, more pull, more Elizabeth Bennet-Mr Fitswilliam Darcy.
The new season of Bridgerton is also more analytical, more inclined towards giving us backstories of the old and new characters, perhaps in a way to establish a real connection. A sharp improvement from Season 1, where the audience found out why the Duke is the way he is a little too late, resulting in his arc of him looking more like a plunge.
Eloise Bridgerton furthers this season’s ‘women with minds’ approach as she attends her debutante ball. Ella she’s a trailblazer, we already knew that. And this time she will turn over a new printed leaf to unmask Lady Whistledown, blissfully unaware it is Pen. Golda Rosheuvel’s Queen Charlotte has a new shade, a softer one at that, and once you look away from her haww-inducing hairdos of her, she becomes quite relatable. Another strong woman with a mind of her own.
If Bridgerton is Jane Austen with sex for you, you could be disappointed, though. There’s much, much less of that, and certainly little of lust as well. There’s some of Anthony mooning us, and one where he almost goes frontal, but that’s that. The focus, this time, is entirely on story and character, and arcs, and we don’t know about you, but we’re not complaining.
Interspersed with popular songs tailored for this 19th century parallel world, like Madonna’s Materiel Girl or Rihanna’s Diamond or even Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (wait for Episode 6 for this one to appear), Bridgerton 2, we dare say, was better than the first. Yes, the Duke of Hastings was missed, but we’re Kate Sharma converts now.
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