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I watched the first season of “Bridgerton” because, when it was released, I was at a low point in my life with not much else to do; it gave me some much-needed escapism. As a huge fan of period dramas and Austen adaptations, I had to at least check it out to see what the hype was about. I found the first season pretty disappointing in terms of the romance plotting. Something about Simon and Daphne’s relationship just didn’t do it for me, and I thought they got together too quickly. After all, I’ve always enjoyed some good old-fashioned yearning in a regency romance (think Mr. Knightley lying prostrate on the floor in “Emma.” (2020), overcome with longing). After I didn’t particularly enjoy the first season, I thought they wouldn’t pull me back in for the second. I was wrong.

Once again, at a time in my life when I am desperate for escapism, I started the second season of “Bridgerton” after seeing some talk online about the levels of yearning between the two main characters, Kate Sharma and eldest brother Anthony Bridgerton. Trope-filled and with more than a few lingering shots of hands, watching their relationship develop is delicious, and it had almost everything I look for in a period romance. They’re both oldest siblings, they exchange witty banter at lightning speed, and they do a lot of staring at each other and repressing their desires. As an oldest daughter myself, I am of the opinion that “Eldest4Eldest” is a relationship dynamic that we need to take far more advantage of in our media. Who else understands the unique pressures that come from being the firstborn and needing to provide for the rest of your family than another eldest sibling? Watching them both finally find and prioritize their own happiness in each other was incredibly gratifying.

I cannot wholeheartedly recommend “Bridgerton”—I find some of the acting weak and have a hard time getting invested in the plotlines outside of the central romance. Any time the Featherington family is on screen, I notice that I’m looking at my phone while I wait for the yearning I signed up for to recommence. But in general, I was far more invested in this season than I ever was in the first, probably because I tend to like slowburns and tortured longing more than instant gratification followed by drama and miscommunication.

Another aspect of this season that outshone the first was the character of Eloise. While in the first season I found Eloise, the feminist daughter of the Bridgerton family, too much of a not-like-other-girls caricature, I liked her a lot more this season. She got to have a storyline of her own, and her character was fleshed out beyond just being the contrarian daughter. Outside of Anthony and Kate’s scenes, her scenes were the most enjoyable for me. I’m not sure if I’ll continue to watch the show, as so much of what was good about this season, in my opinion, was the chemistry and love story between the two leads. If Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington are going to be the romantic focus of a season, they’re going to need to drastically change something about the way their characters interact. So far, their chemistry has been absent, and they’ve spent a season each being insufferable (maybe they deserve each other?). I still don’t know if I think “Bridgerton” is a good show. But for those who, like me, will do anything for an onscreen regency romance, it’s certainly available on Netflix to provide all the escapism one could wish for.

Hannah Gruen

Bryn Mawr '22

Hannah is a senior at Bryn Mawr College majoring in Literatures in English. She is passionate about the color yellow, dogs of all kinds, and filling her playlists with sad indie women. She can often be found with an oat milk latte and a book.
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