After the first season was a more or less entertaining mess of regency courtship, drama and a surprising amount of sex scenes, the Bridgerton family is back for another season and it’s time for the oldest son to get hitched. Now, I have read all of the Bridgerton novels by Julia Quinn, because regency romance is one of my go-to genres when I need something simple and predictable to relax, so I was very well aware of what to expect from this second season – because the Bridgerton siblings are one incapable and annoying lot and Anthony might well be the worst of them (though personally I can’t really decide between him and Daphne).
And in that regard, season 2 of Bridgerton did not disappoint. Yes, the show does deviate from the books to some extent – some of the changes more cosmetic while some rather substantial – but the overall idea of the story stays the same. The clothes and hairdos and music are fantastical concoctions and London’s upper crust features a lot more people of colour than in the books (which is not hard) but for the most part none of those changes impacted the story very much so far. The added diversity becomes more story relevant in season two as the Sheffield sisters become the Sharma sisters and some elements of Indian culture find their way on screen but unfortunately, that is not the only change: their dynamic, which was actually one of the things I liked about the original novel, also changes, and suffers dearly as the entire plot becomes horribly drawn out for the sake of drama and it honestly felt just ridiculous.
Really, Anthony is ridiculous, his antics are annoying, especially as the trauma driving his decision to enter into a loveless marriage and whatnot does not come across nearly as well in the show as it did in the novels. And he is not the only Bridgerton behaving in ways that are just eyeroll-inducing, half the siblings behave in ways that made me want to shake some sense into them. Benedict continues to be weirdly queercoded though not quite as much as in the first season where he was more or less openly flirting with his fellow artists (and I just remembered that he definitely belongs up there with the worst Bridgertons, because in the books he is a reprehensible asshole). It also is just weird that Daphne’s husband is simply missing. Sure, there was some in-story explanation as to why he couldn’t attend the season and the Bridgerton’s shenanigans (and honestly, who can blame him?) but Daphne just showing up and hanging out at her family’s place felt somewhat out of place.
I can’t really say that Bridgerton was a letdown for me, because it was pretty much exactly what I was expecting. Only it simultaneously was also somehow worse and, once more, did not manage to take advantage of the possibilities it offered, thus becoming disappointing. It was somewhat fun to watch but it was also rather cringeworthy and, while different from the books in some ways, in one way the show and its original are exactly alike: entertaining in the short term but the longer you linger over them the more questionable they become. It didn’t even help that there were decidedly less sex scenes this time around (seriously, the second season is weirdly chaste after the precedent season one set), that just meant more time for the characters to embarrass themselves.
Seriously, if you are looking for something dramatic and romantic with quasi-historical costuming go and watch Our Flag Means Death – every single episode of that show has more honest chemistry than both seasons of Bridgerton combined, plus its diversity is more than mere cosmetics.