“Dearest gentle reader… did you miss me?”
If you didn’t hear that in Julie Andrews’ a.k.a. Lady Whistledown’s voice, you need to jump on the bandwagon that is Bridgerton, stat. Based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling series of novels, Bridgerton is set in the sexy, lavish, and competitive world of Regency London high society. TL;DR, Bridgerton follows the eight Bridgerton siblings in search of romance, adventure, and love, all while an anonymous writer named Lady Whistledown peddles gossip surrounding London’s high society. Each season throws a different sibling
under the bus in the spotlight, and in Season 2 we join the eldest Bridgerton sibling and head of the family Anthony in his quest to find a wife. Shenanigans ensue and scandals abound, but there’s more than meets the eye than the glittering gowns and lavish balls, as revealed in the Bridgerton press conference where yours truly was in attendance…
1) Head vs Heart
As the eldest son and the viscount, Anthony has an ideal of what a viscountess should be, which he thinks of as a duty and responsibility towards his family. In Jonathan Bailey’s (a.k.a. Jonny who plays Anthony Bridgerton) own words, Anthony “takes love out of the equation”. He sets his sights on Edwina, who’s the perfect candidate for his wife and viscountess on paper–she’s everything he’s looking for. Enter Kate, Edwina’s older sister, who also feels the same sort of responsibility and protectiveness towards her family as the eldest. There’s an undeniable chemistry between Anthony and Kate; they find out they’re incredibly similar, but their heads and hearts are at war: do they choose duty above all, or follow their hearts to each other? Can they do both? Similarly with Penelope, we see a little bit of this as well, having to hide the fact that (SPOILER ALERT FOR SEASON 1!) she’s Lady Whistledown from Eloise. Logic dictates keeping the secret is the smart thing to do, but it eats away at her, because she’s hiding something massive from her best friend.
Fun fact: Jonny and Simone Ashley (Kate Sharma) are both the youngest in their families, though they play the eldest on Bridgerton.
2) The Family/Sibling Dynamic
Though the stories very much focus on each Bridgerton sibling’s romantic journey, family is a huge part of these stories as well. Especially in a family as large as the Bridgertons, the siblings are of different ages and life stages. Highly anticipated, the “Pall Mall” (a game involving hitting balls with a mallet through hoops on the ground) scene brilliantly displays the camaraderie amongst the family. Moving away from the Bridgertons, we also get introduced to the Sharmas this season. Unlike the Bridgertons, the Sharma sisters only have each other, and they grew up in isolation away from the ton. According to Charithra Chandran (Edwina Sharma), “With that comes an increased dependency and stakes, and it’s a very unique sibling dynamic.” Through the Sharma sisters, the familial bond especially one between sisters is explored thoroughly.
Fun fact: For the “Pall Mall” scene, the crew set cameras up and just let everyone play. The actors actually played the game, and it brought out everyone’s competitive spirit. When asked who’s the best, Luke Thompson (Benedict Bridgerton) raised his hand. He also broke six mallets playing the game.
3) The “Human” in Each Character
Bridgerton features a whole host of different characters, ranging from the upper class of London like the Bridgertons to the working class like the modiste Madame Delacroix to Queen Charlotte herself. Bridgerton does not overlook any of these characters, giving each of them a humanistic aspect that makes them rounded and three-dimensional. Golda Rosheuvel (Queen Charlotte) shares that we get to see a bit more of Queen Charlotte’s own love story this season, and that she’s really grateful for those scenes, because “we could have written a one-dimensional character who has fabulous frocks and beautiful wigs and goes to the balls, but you get to see her humanity and vulnerability in those scenes.”
Fun fact: Queen Charlotte’s story isn’t the only one we get to dive deeper into. Can’t say much. Watch the show.
The friendship of Eloise Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington is just *chef’s kiss* but as mentioned earlier, this friendship could be on rocky waters as Penelope’s secret drives them apart. Penelope loves Eloise dearly, but Eloise is magnetised to her all the time, making it incredibly difficult for Penelope to run her business. It’s also interesting to see this friendship between two teenage girls; the coming-of-age years are never easy, and while they’re firm friends, they’re also figuring out their identity, and how each of their actions could affect the friendship. But Nicola Coughlan (Penelope Featherington) thinks that “theirs is a true friendship, and it can’t be sunshine and roses all the time.”
Fun fact: Nicola and Claudia Jessie (Eloise Bridgerton) are good friends off screen as well, and Nicola said this about working with Claudia: “If I can work with her on every job I ever do in the future, I would. You can sign me up for that.” #friendshipgoals #peneloiseforevah
5) Representation & Inclusivity
The Sharmas are a South Asian family, which is an adaptation choice. In the original novel, the Sharmas were originally the Sheffields. Chris Van Dusen (showrunner) shares that it “was a natural choice that was about continuing to expand the world of Bridgerton“, and making it relatable to modern audiences. To him, things like colour and race are very much a part of the show’s conversation, just like class and gender and sexuality are. In fact, there’s a Bollywood cover in the soundtrack this season, and South Asian viewers are really excited about it. With this, Simone wants to bring the fun, joy, and normality to it, while Charithra thinks that this is a collision of both her worlds, indicative of her identity.
Fun fact: When Charithra first watched that particular scene, she rewinded to check it out again, paused it, and immediately texted Chris to say “this literally brought tears to my eyes”.
6) A Mother’s Love
There’s no escaping the theme of family, and while the sibling dynamic is obvious whether for the Bridgertons or Sharmas, Lady Featherington embodies the love a mother has for her children. Lady Featherington attempts to match-make again this season, and Polly Walker (Portia Featherington) shares that “she’s penniless, so she’s highly motivated and throwing everything she’s got at it to get her girls secure and in a good position.” Picking up from season 1, she has struggles, vulnerability, and sincerity, and while her actions could be controversial, it all comes from a place of love and wanting the best for her girls. Polly hopes that people will appreciate everything that Portia struggles with, and be on her side.
Fun fact: Polly’s favourite moment this season is having her own ball.
7) The “Truth”
Several actors from Jonny to Simone to Bessie Carter (Prudence Featherington) mentioned their characters’ “truth” in the press conference. Bessie shares that Pru is still on the marriage mart this season, and is “desperate”. Going to balls and trying to find a match is all these young women knew, and it was unfortunately all they had to achieve. She also thinks it’s quite damaging for Pru as she goes to ball after ball where no one even looks at her, and what that is genuinely doing to her insides. Prudence may come off as a silly character, but Bessie tries to find the seriousness and truth in that, while bringing lightness and fun to the potential failure of her attempts to secure a match. Simone also says that a lot of the tension and chemistry between Kate and Anthony all comes down to both her and Jonny remaining to their characters’ truths, and neither of them ever did anything for the sake of doing it.
Fun fact: When asked to described season 2 in one word, Bessie said, “Climax.”
8) Toxic Masculinity & Emotional Avoidance
Through literature, we’re introduced to stereotypical romantic male characters that we’ve come to know quite well, including being toxic and emotionally unhealthy. In season 1, Anthony makes some interesting and sometimes horrible choices, leaving him pretty broken. He’s a little lost after his affair with Siena, and doesn’t quite know what it means to be a good man. In season 2, it’s about putting him back together, and understanding Anthony more in depth as his past is explored, taking the time to dig into the psychology of a man of that era. According to Jonny, “He’s a victim of a patriarchal system in which men weren’t encouraged to talk about their feelings–and this was at a time when there was no therapy. But I think Anthony’s ultimately very kind and full of love.”
Fun fact: Jonny listened to the audiobook [of The Viscount Who Loved Me] before going to bed every night to help him prepare, and he became slightly obsessed with it.
9) Female Empowerment
All hail the queen, threefold, with Queen Charlotte herself, Lady Danbury, and Violet Bridgerton. Again, though romance is definitely the central theme in Bridgerton, there are other aspects and themes well-infused into the show, including female empowerment. We’ve covered Queen Charlotte earlier, but there’s more to learn about Lady Danbury and Violet Bridgerton. Violet is the matriarch of the Bridgerton brood, and we know that she’s lost her husband, leaving her to raise her children alone. We learn more about this story this season, but can we talk about Lady Danbury for a minute? She’s opinionated, has a takes-no-prisoners attitude, and everyone’s a little bit intimidated by her. Not one to mince words, she imparts truths, lessons, and wisdom, but she’s also honest when she’s at a loss (though it doesn’t happen often, admittedly). The Sharmas are also very female-centric, and you feel a lot of solidarity this season.
Fun fact: When asked to choose a character to play other than their own, Luke Newton (Colin Bridgerton) said, “Lady Danbury,” with no hesitation. Same, Luke, same.
If you’ve watched season 1, you’d know what we’re talking about. Chris stresses that intimate scenes are used to tell the story and push it forward, and they have never and will never do a sex scene for the sake of just doing it. Anthony and Kate goes through a different journey compared to Simon and Daphne, so do keep that in mind. Jonny says, “There’s so many different ways in which people connect with their own bodies and intimacy, but I think Kate and Anthony feel explicit in a way that they feel naked in front of each other, and I think that’s an interesting way of exploring that sort of sexuality.” Simone adds that the sex scenes have a meaning behind them, and she thinks they’re very earned when the fireworks happen.
Fun fact from Chris: You can really feel it build from episode to episode; scene to scene. When we get to the climax, if you will, the payoff is going to be well worth it.
Bridgerton Season 2 premieres on Netflix 25th March. You can imagine that as an engraved invitation, and we’ll see you in London. If you want more Bridgerton content, check out our Reel here as well: https://www.instagram.com/p/CbXbZpApoix/
Looking for more Netflix-related content? Check out this interview with the cast of Shadow and Bone!