When Bridgerton debuted in December, 2020, the Regency-era costume drama quickly became one of Netflix’s most popular shows, reaching 82 million households. Admittedly, its second season lacks the sexy spice of the first, focusing on far less interesting characters. Nevertheless, its Gossip Girl-meets-Downton Abbey concept is addictive for bingeing.
Reimagining 19th century England, it once again focuses on aristocratic families seeking favor from Black royalty. “We were two separate societies, divided by color, until King George III fell in love with one of us,” all-knowing Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) explains.
The sizzling first season followed Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and the Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset (Rege-Jean Page); they’re now married. So the focus is on Daphne’s eldest brother, rakish, stubborn Viscount Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), who feels compelled to find a suitable wife.
Enter proper, placid, polite Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran), newly arrived from Bombay, along with her headstrong older half-sister Kathani (Simone Ashley). In the 1800s, India was a British colony with thousands of transients settling in London. But Edwina and Kate’s mother was rejected by her aristocratic British parents when she chose to marry the girls’ father, a lower-class Indian clerk.
There’s also a crisis in the not-so-prosperous Featherington family, marked by the arrival of Cousin Jack (Rupert Young). Meanwhile, the close friendship between eavesdropping wallflower Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and intellectual, inquisitive Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) is in danger of rupturing.
All this is chronicled by the cunning, scandal-mongering gossiper Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), a constant irritant to scheming, snuff-sniffing Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel), who will soon get her own prequel series, according to executive producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal).
Based on Julia Quinn’s bodice-ripping, historical romance novels, the melodramatic storylines have been re-imagined by showrunner Chris Van Dusen, who details a multihued, multiethnic, colorful society, complete with extravagant, eye-catching costumes and bucolic beauty.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Bridgerton: Season Two is a slow-simmering 7 – with the streaming Netflix series already renewed through Season Four.