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Why Bridgerton’s Season Two Surpasses Season One

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UWindsor chapter.

Spoiler alert: There may be some references to the events that occur in season two.

While season one of Bridgerton was immensely popular, both due to the new show’s diverse and unique sets and characters as well as the steamy chemistry between the two main characters, it pales in comparison to season two. Season two has already become Netflix’s third-most popular English show since it was released on Friday, March 25. While the first season may have set the scene for Bridgerton, it is the second season that epitomizes the artistry and talent of those involved in the production with its amazing character development, emotional acting, and well-written plot. 

While I enjoyed Daphne and Simon’s relationship in season one, they always felt like a prolonged romance. They experienced some difficulties, including Simon’s deceit of Daphne, but the resolution felt too clean for the tumultuous beginnings of their marriage. Their characters were driven by their love for each other, rather than their internal emotions and personalities, and in retrospect, it was hard to connect with Daphne’s prim and proper characterization. In contrast, season two opens with a bold conflict between Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton, who chases Kate on a horse before realizing that she is much more capable than him and needs no saviour. Although it may seem biased to identify with female characters that immediately demonstrate their independence, I believe that Bridgerton’s strict and patriarchal society makes Kate’s character even more interesting. She exists both within and outside of upper-class societal demands as an older (twenty-six) maiden and the older sister of the “diamond” or favoured eligible bachelorette of the season. When Anthony courts Kate’s sister, Edwina, the chemistry between Kate and Anthony grows even more intense. Rather than simply portraying the issues of ‘love,’ Kate and Anthony exemplify the familial pressures of 19th century society as Kate values her sister over her own happiness and Anthony continually believes he must marry out of duty rather than love. These forces drive and propel their relationship and their denial of their feelings for each other, making their prolonged relationship more dynamic, complex, and understandable given the societal context. Anthony’s character clearly develops alongside Kate’s similar traits of familial responsibility, as they both come to terms with prioritizing their own happiness. Although Anthony’s character was disliked in season one for his headstrong and commanding attitude, season two builds an emotional and sympathetic view of his trauma, including the early death of his father and his assumption of the Viscount’s role during his teenage years. With little time to grieve, it’s clear he carries most of his sadness and responsibility on his shoulders, thinking that if he does not perform perfectly he will fail his family. In a similar way, Kate also carries guilt and shame, as emphasized by an emotional performance between her ‘adopted’ mother and Kate in which Kate feels as if she had to step up to protect her mother after her father’s death left her vulnerable. The dynamics of her ‘accepted’ but complicated adoption by her mother also create a multilayered characterization of her desire to provide for her family, realistically explaining her and Anthony’s physical and emotional attraction to each other. 

Kate and Anthony’s relationship also functions on an enemies-to-lovers dichotomy, making their prolonged expressions of love much more beautiful. Their ‘hate’ for each other amounts to playful and hilarious scenes, such as angrily competing against each other in ‘light’ games and making snide remarks to each other. Further, as two headstrong characters, they must unravel their feelings for each other through an introspective analysis of their own beliefs about who they must be. When Anthony tells Kate, “You are the bane of my existence… and the object of all my desires,” this dichotomy between hate and love is centered. Even the filming in this scene alternates between viewing Anthony over Kate’s shoulder on one side and then switching to the other side of Kate when he tells her she is the object of his desires. Rather than portraying love as mere desire and longing, their relationship captures the anger, resentment, and pain, both at themselves and each other, for falling in love with the ‘wrong’ person. Since Anthony is courting Kate’s sister, this leads to some complexities in the sisters’ relationships, adding more dynamism to how this relationship develops. Not only do you empathize with their situation, but you feel like you too are trapped between being faithful and good to Edwina’s pure character and desiring Anthony and Kate to be together.

Moreover, Kate’s character in season two focuses on minority representation in the primary love interest of Anthony. While the diversity of her and Edwina’s roles are emphasized at times, her race does not factor into a critical view of 19th-century society with colonialism, racism, and Western focus. However, Bridgerton itself includes diverse ranges of characters but denotes the show as a race-neutral space, as emphasized in the first season when Lady Danbury tells Simon that the king and queen’s interracial love “brought” people together. Regardless of the show’s missing criticality of race, Kate’s role as the love interest of Anthony foregrounds a non-white woman as a subject of desire, allure, and focus, making significant strides in how beauty is portrayed.

Other characters also achieve character development that positions the show within complex dominant cultures and countercultures of 19th century England. For instance, Eloise (a personal favourite of mine) begins to visit Theo, a lower-class man who discusses women’s rights and books with her. While I feel this interaction could have ended in an idealistic ‘love’ between an upper class woman and a lower class man, Theo makes it abundantly clear that Eloise’s attraction to him is much easier than his engagement with her. He tells her that she can “return” to her life like other upper-class ladies who play with lower-class mens’ hearts. While this seems like an unfair reading of Eloise, it does portray that social class plays a large role in who we love and end up with. Similarly, Penelope and Eloise’s friendship undergo more strains, highlighting the darker side of Penelope’s character. Although viewers sympathize with Penelope, season two delves into parts of the young, unheard maiden’s motivations that are not entirely well-placed. Through friendship and romance, season two dives into the intense emotional landscapes of 18th century England.

While you may still fall for the predictable chemistry of Daphne and Simon’s infectious love, Anthony and Kate represent season two’s character development, complex social situations, and intense emotional acting to the fullest extent. As season two delves into trauma, familial responsibility, and societal expectations, it leaves no room for any character to escape its introspective glare. Season three has a lot to live up to, but it’s guaranteed to be a tumultuous and energetic set of episodes. I can’t speak for everyone, but I will say that #Kanthony is the bar for all future relationships from now on. 




I'm an English major at University of Windsor. I enjoy reading, writing and painting. I'm very interested in social justice issues, like climate change, women's rights and sexuality/gender studies.