As far as diamonds of the first water go, Netflix has claimed its gem of the season with the recently released Bridgerton season two.
The show provides a unique and modern take on a period drama but has strayed from the original source material of the book series by Julia Quinn. While the show’s newest season based on the book, “The Viscount Who Loved Me” offers its familiar surprising twists, fated romances, and regency high fashion, not everyone was happy with the changes made.
The most notable divergence from Quinn’s story was the conspicuous love triangle between Anthony Bridgerton (Johnathan Bailey), Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley), and her sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran). Although the new season offers much-needed character development for popular characters, fans of the book series were quick to critique these new developments.
“The point at which Bridgerton starts to wobble is also the point at which it departs drastically from the novel it’s based on. That devolution has infuriated die-hard fans of the Bridgerton novels” said Vox writer Aja Romano.
The unexpected love triangle between the Viscount and two sisters felt dragged out and pointless leaving readers of the series to wonder why the show made such a drastic change in the plot.
As an introduction to both the book series and the Netflix adaptation, the whirlwind romance and erotic nature of Daphne (Pheobe Dynevor) and Simons’s (Regé-Jean Page) relationship in season one was more than enough for audiences. Yet season two took a more subdued approach to Kate and Anthony’s relationship making fans wait till the very last second to see their passion in full effect.
This slow-burn romance is much different from the accelerated pace of their love story in the book that takes them from a bee sting to married in just a few chapters.
The book also focuses more on the main character’s rational fears, allowing readers to gain more insight as to why the couple shares such an unconventional bond. This is somewhat explored in the show adaptation through Anthony’s fear of bees, but not to Quinn’s extent. Then there is Kate’s fear of storms which is barely touched on in the infamous library scene, yet not at all in the way the book portrayed it.
Fans who have never read the book or read it after watching the latest season might agree with showrunner Chris Van Dusen’s approach to this aspect of the character’s relationship. Mostly likely due to how exaggerated their fears might seem in the books, but then isn’t that what Briedgerton is all about? The dramatization and amplification of certain aspects of the era, the fashion, the atmosphere, and most significantly the characters.
In this sense, season two did not manage to capture the same essence and magic that season one did and fell short of some of the more exciting points of the story. Some might say the absence of smutty scenes in comparison to last season also played a part in why this new season was lacking.
Although the number of steamy scenes from season one might have insinuated controversy, season two has caused dispute amongst fans for its lack thereof. The two main characters spend the entire season building tension on stolen glances and spiteful bickering while fans waited in the wings for the moment their hate turned to passion and the enemies-to-lovers trope was fulfilled.
“We never do a sex scene for the sake of doing the sex scene, and we never will,” said Chris Van Dusen in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
It should be evident by now that Dusen set out to break the normative stereotypes within period dramas as his diverse casting was a welcome development from the book’s all-white cast of characters. His attempt to build tension between the characters might not have been the most thrilling thing for Bridgerton book lovers but it didn’t take away from the show’s massive success with season two.
Moving forward fans of both the Netflix series and the books should look forward to more innovative and progressive storytelling as the rest of the Bridgerton siblings venture into the world of romance and chemistry for their happily ever afters.