By Annabelle Martin
Netflix’s Bridgerton tells two distinct love stories in Seasons 1 and 2. Season 1 concerns the intimate relationship between Daphne and the Duke, Simon, which turns from forced to pure love. Season 2 is about a love-hate relationship between Anthony and Kate (Viscount Bridgerton and Kate Sharma, ( a visitor from India). While Season 1 focuses on sexual encounters with a shock factor, Season 2 tells a more stereotypical love story utilising the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope, as Anthony and Kate grow together. Simon and Daphne’s whirlwind romance is contrasted with the story of Anthony and Kate. Season 1 presented Anthony as meddlesome, self-loathing and insufferable, with extreme daddy issues. However, Season 2 contained all the passion, torment and hotness which the viewers needed in order to prove that the Viscount deserved love and lust.
The sexual tension between Simon and Daphne draws the audience in, intertwining sex with power in an enthralling relationship. Initially, Anthony is presented as promiscuous, living a playboy life, whereas Daphne hasn’t a clue about sex. This not only draws out the differences in acceptable behaviour between genders in the early 1800s but emphasises how much easier life was for men. In Season 2 Anthony forgets his floozy past and focuses on a fresh start, trying to find himself a wife. But trouble appears when the person he falls in love with is not the one he initially wanted to marry.
Warning: Contains spoilers for Netflix’s Bridgerton.
Does knowing who Lady Whistledown is make the plot better?
In Season 1, tensions and suspicion grow – who is the mysterious Lady Whistledown? However, in Season 2 we know that Lady Whistledown is Penelope Featherington. The absence of this layer of unpredictability which affected their lifestyles at shocking and well-timed moments, has disappeared and all we are left with is the destructive impact of these secrets on families and relationships. Positioning Penelope as the forgotten sibling of a big family, who turns to writing to gain influence and power in a society which has obscured her, does however seem a rather obvious plot twist.
It is refreshing seeing a character like Penelope/Whistledown, who is not the main focus, gain control over society. The storyline of her and Eloise in Season 2 is a stimulating relationship which changes the mood from the drama of Anthony. The two women’s relationship is fascinating as they discuss issues such as feminism and other ‘unladylike’ themes. The narrative of Eloise’s flirtation with the paperboy to save her from being accused as Lady Whistledown, is Penelope trying to save her from being accused of being Lady Whistledown. However, it also ruins her and her chances of trying to find natural love. This could be understood as Penelope being jealous of her, but the relationship between Penelope and Colin has much more to it so it will be interesting to see if their friendship remains as strong or turns to love.
Which is better?
Both seasons undoubtedly have their merits, but Season 1 is far superior in terms of sex scenes – that’s for sure. The lack of sensuality and intimacy in season 2 is disappointing – it takes seven episodes for any action like Season 1, focusing more on building the sexual tension and less on the actual sex. Season 1 had an addictive aspect which makes you want to rewatch their love story, whereas when you watch Season 2 for the first time you feel the frustration in the characters while they restrain themselves against their lust so the Viscount can marry.
The proposed line in Season 1 ‘I burn for you’ has been overtaken in Season 2 by the words of Anthony, ‘You are the bane of my existence and the object of all of my desires’. Even though Simon’s iconic line sets hearts aflame everywhere, seeing the once promiscuous Viscount let himself love and accept that Kate is the one for him is a turning point for the character.
Therefore, Season 2 may be my favourite as Anthony’s story and development is extremely sweet – we like to see someone change themselves all for love! Even though we do not get to see a fancy wedding, we do see their love for each other, and that they do not need a wedding to reinforce this.