Warning: Spoilers ahead for Bridgerton season two, episode one.
There are a number of things that come to mind when you think of Netflix’s Bridgerton, including Julie Andrews’ wildly soothing voice and the wardrobe department's obsession with ridiculously impractical opera gloves. However, out of all of Bridgerton’s recognisable tropes, there is one that stands above the rest and that, my friends, is the endless stream of saucy, sensual sex scenes.
While the show may indeed be about discovering Lady Whistledown’s secret identity, audiences were quickly captivated by the titillating romance between the Duke Of Hastings and Daphne Bridgerton in season one of the Shonda Rhimes period drama. So much so that by the time the series was done, fans were left wondering if Daphne’s famous "I burn for you" speech might have actually been referencing a raging UTI.
As we head into the show’s second season, many are wondering if the Regency-era romance can live up to its wild reputation in the absence of its illustrious duke. The first episode opens in a notably calmer way than series one (thirsty Netflix viewers will recall the endless 'marital act' scenes with fondness) but the show's second season is on track to be just as thrilling as the last, thanks to its second most eligible bachelor, Viscount Anthony Bridgerton.
Having ended series one alone again (relatable), Anthony must now do the dutiful thing and settle down as the head of the Bridgerton clan. Given that finding your one true love is easier said than done, the viscount heads into debutante season with a list of emotionally stunted criteria for his future bride. Aside from "a pleasing face" and "gentile manners", the requirements demand a wife with a clear interest in having children, like, immediately.
Deciding not to waste his time with something so foolish as a love match, Anthony sets his sights on charming the diamond of the season. Luckily for him, the queen looks outside of the Bridgerton clan this time, bestowing the honour on new-in-town darling Miss Edwina Sharma. Having recently arrived from India, Edwina quickly becomes the name on everybody’s lips as she's flaunted about at events by Lady Danbury.
But it's really the work of Edwina’s older sister Kate, who has passed on everything she knows about her place in society, that makes Edwina the belle of the ball. Despite teaching her every intricate dance and foreign language herself, Kate insists on appearing only as her sister’s chaperone (much to the delight of Lady Danbury, who refers to her as an "old maid" at 26). Assuming the role of vetting her sister’s potential suitors, Kate has a keen eye for weeding out those with a reputation for womanising.
This, of course, becomes an issue when the viscount takes a shine to her younger sister. Floating around the dance floor at one of the season’s most stupendous soirees, Edwina is a perfect example of high society excellence, her grace and wit on display for all to see. Unfazed by the viscount’s probing questions, the youngest Sharma sister appears to meet Anthony’s lengthy list of marriage material demands – much to his surprise.
While Kate clearly has her sister’s best interests at heart, her immediate annoyance at Anthony's intrigue suggests a layer of bubbling jealousy. Having entered into a series of intellectual sparring matches with the viscount since her arrival in London, his change of focus appears to sting. But with the viscount’s interest in Edwina having the potential to secure her family’s future, her ill feelings towards the situation can't be shared.
Thankfully, Kate’s longtime investment in her sister’s wellbeing allows her a legitimate reason to bring forth her concerns, presenting her fears about the viscount’s intentions to her inner circle. But with a wide-eyed Edwina chomping at her heels for approval, the situation becomes increasingly tricky, with Kate and Anthony's palpable sexual tension coming second to the Sharma family's desperate need for financial and societal redemption.
Bridgerton is certainly at its best in its horniest moments but the series manages to keep its B plots fleshed out too. The most prevalent of these storylines this season regards Lady Whistledown’s hidden identity and Penelope’s increasingly shaky grasp on keeping it all under wraps. Questioning the very idea of being a town gossip queen, Pen begins to flirt with the idea of presenting a better, more in depth look at society’s most talked about women, thanks to her bookish best pal Eloise.
This new lens for Lady Whistledown has the potential to shake things up for the series, presenting a world where Pen may not air people’s dirty laundry and instead offer boundary-pushing ideas about society’s attitudes towards women. Will season two see Lady Whistledown further shake up the patriarchy? After episode one, all we know for certain is that Bridgerton is keeping audiences titillated with its lust-filled encounters. And while we appreciate this era-appropriate take on the slow-burn romance, we're also hoping its cunnilingus-on-the-stairs origins make a comeback as the season unfolds.
Bridgerton season two arrives on Netflix on Friday 25th March