What to expect from Bridgerton series two: more sex, scandal and salacious gossip
A second series of Bridgerton is one the way. Hardly surprising, since the period romp has been a major hit for Netflix, projected to be watched by more than 63 million households within 28 days of its debut on Christmas Day 2020. It’s become a cultural talking point – albeit not always a positive one – and has even inspired a TikTok musical.
So, what can we expect from the next instalment of this Regency London-set drama? One thing we know for certain is that the much-lusted-after Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page, will not be returning, as the actor is leaving the show. He explained to heartbroken fans that he had always intended to only do one year, with the producers pitching it to him as a “one-season arc”. He added: “I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit and then the Bridgerton family rolls on.”
It certainly will, with this upcoming series focussing on Anthony Bridgerton, eldest child of the eponymous clan, and drawing on The Viscount Who Loved Me – the second novel in American author Julia Quinn’s popular series.
In the book, the renowned rake Anthony enters the 1814 season determined to reform and find a suitable wife. But the path to his intended, new ‘diamond of the season’ Edwina Sheffield, is blocked by her protective, outspoken older sister, Kate, and the pair soon come into spirited conflict. Anyone who has ever seen a romcom can guess the rest…
It will put the spotlight on actor Jonathan Bailey, who plays Anthony, alongside new cast addition Simone Ashley as Kate. Ashley previously appeared in Broadchurch, Strike and Sex Education. The show is also adding Charithra Chandran as Kate’s sister Edwina, who wants a marriage based on true love; Shelley Conn as their mother, Lady Mary Sharma, whose own marriage to a tradesman once embroiled her family in scandal; Calam Lynch as Theo Sharpe, a printer’s assistant fighting for the rights of all; and Rupert Young as Jack, a new member of the ton with a connection to one of its notable families.
And there’s a load of Bridgerton backstory to unpack, centred on the late, great patriarch Edmund, who died of an allergic reaction to a bee sting (how My Girl of him). That meant Anthony had to take over the viscounty at a young age, and left him with serious trauma and daddy issues to address.
The new instalment won’t just feature Anthony’s story. Although series one focussed mainly on the romance between Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke, it also drew on the other books in the series and made space for numerous subplots – including the rise of the mysterious, scandal-mongering gossip columnist Lady Whistledown.
In the finale (spoiler alert) we learned that Whistledown is actually put-upon socialite Penelope Featherington. Complicating matters is the fact that her best friend, Eloise Bridgerton, is on a mission from Queen Charlotte to unmask Whistledown – even though Eloise admires the writer as a powerful, independent woman, and wishes she could follow suit instead of facing her first season on the marriage market.
In the books, the race to reveal Whistledown hots up once Lady Danbury offers a monetary reward for her identity. We’ll likely get plenty more of this twisty plot, along with waspish commentary from Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), and perhaps some flashbacks showing how Penelope has maintained the ruse all this time.
Although the Duke is now AWOL thanks to Page’s absence, it’s been confirmed that actress Phoebe Dynevor is definitely returning to the show, so we should see the now married Daphne visiting her family without him to offer her younger siblings advice on navigating the season.
And what about poor pregnant Marina Thompson, married off to her dead lover’s brother? There’s a tragic continuation to her story in the novels, with a depressed Marina attempting to take her own life by walking into a lake in the middle of winter. However, the series has already diverged from the source material hugely in its portrayal of Marina, so perhaps she will be granted a happier fate – on or off screen.
Then there’s aspiring painter Benedict Bridgerton, who was pursuing an affair with pretend-French modiste Genevieve Delacroix, as well as attending bohemian orgies at the home of artist Henry Granville. In the books, Benedict next falls for the bastard daughter of an earl who becomes a maid. But, following some teasing scenes where Benedict seems attracted to Granville, Netflix viewers have been clamoring for him to pursue a gay relationship instead. Given that producer Shonda Rhimes has a strong track record of LGBTQ+ representation, it’s a definite possibility.
On the Featherington side of the action, we finished series one on a big cliffhanger. Gambling addict Lord Featherington, who scored big after fixing a boxing match, has apparently been murdered by vengeful bookies, and his winnings have disappeared. Worse yet for Polly Walker’s Lady Featherington: the estate has now been inherited by someone outside the family. Who is it, and will it mean more drama for this perennially unlucky bunch? (Of course it will.)
We might venture further afield, too, since Colin Bridgerton – briefly engaged to Marina; secretly adored by Penelope – is off on his grand tour of Europe. At a time when most of us can only dream of leaving our own houses or neighbourhoods, let alone swanning around Paris, it might provide some welcome vicarious vacationing. An added bonus to this escapist watch.
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