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Bridgerton's second season isn't as horny as the first. But that could be a good thing.

Midway through Bridgerton season two, I had a quick thought.

'Remember when everyone panicked that Regé-Jean Page's departure would ruin the show?'

We needn't have worried.

Bridgerton, Netflix and Shonda Rhimes' horny Regency-era drama, has finally returned, having pushed the entire world against a wall (or a staircase - IYKYK) following its Christmas Day 2020 premiere. It was Netflix's biggest ever series until Squid Game leapfrogged it in September last year. 

Watch: Bridgerton season two teaser trailer. Post continues below video.


Video via Netflix.

Bridgerton's phenomenon was the result of a perfect storm. It premiered into a touch-starved world, where we'd spent the year holed up in our homes and negativity consumed our media.

Adjoa Andoh, who stars as the self-assured Lady Danbury, best described it in an interview with Mamamia ahead of the second season's release:

"We brought in a new conversation that was lighter and more joyful, and gave people a space to breathe out and be transported somewhere away from their uncertainty and their concerns and their worries," she reflected.

"The sense I really got was, the show was doing something I would say sort of mental health, joy-giving, at the time when everything was pretty heavy for lots of people globally. So that was the kind of fantastic feeling. When we came back to season two, there was the sense of the privilege of having been in a show that could do that."

Many of those pandemic-specific aspects are less pronounced now, but the much-anticipated second instalment shows Bridgerton can stand up on its own.

While season one told the story of Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon, Duke of Hastings (Page), they are moved aside for this season. While centred on one family, Bridgerton is a loose anthology: like Julia Quinn's book series, each instalment will follow a different sibling's love journey. 

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Image: Netflix.

Enter: eldest son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), who viewers will remember as the uptight, overbearing brother that almost sabotaged Daphne's story. After being dumped by his opera singer mistress, Anthony has finally decided he's ready to settle down and announces his intentions to marry this courting 'season'. 

Lucky for him, the Sharma sisters have just arrived in town. Older sister Kate (Simone Ashley) has come to help the younger Edwina (Charithra Chandran) navigate the season and find a husband. Kate, like Simon before her, isn't interested in marriage. She plans to set up Edwina's future, then ditch this madness to return - alone (gasp!) and content (double gasp!) - to India.

Unsurprisingly, sparks fly between Anthony and Kate immediately. They are effectively two sides of the same coin: each so caught up in the pressures of providing for their families that they butt heads at every turn. They verbally spar, bicker and 'hate' each other. And we all know that when fictional characters 'hate' each other, it really means they're madly in love.

Despite this, Anthony pursues the perfect-on-paper Edwina, who has spent her entire life being primed for a 'good match' and has been named 'diamond of the season' by Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel).

Page's decision not to return to the series is explained away, while Daphne appears every so often to deliver her brother some harsh truths and advice. Brutally, I do not think you will miss her - or Simon, even - when they're gone.

Image: Netflix.

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The Sharmas are wonderful additions. Ashley plays Kate to perfection: she's incredulous, steadfast and selfless to a fault. Chandran's Edwina may seem like a Daphne-esque doe-eyed suiter, but her character arc ends up being one of the most satisfying of the entire series.

In its second instalment, Bridgerton has pivoted from 'pure horny'. It's horny-lite. If you are here purely for the sex, you may find that frustrating. 

But I would argue the lack of actual physicality makes season two even more sexy: the piercing looks, the lingering touches, the way they can barely stand to be in the same room. The chemistry between Bailey and Ashley bursts out of the screen. You will have been yelling at them to sort their sh*t out for at least two episodes before anything happens.

After a while, the 'will-they-won't-they' may begin to feel repetitive. But the pay-off is worth it.

Outside of the main courtship storyline, there are other delights. Queen Charlotte is still in pursuit of the town's very own Gossip Girl, Lady Whistledown. Whistledown was revealed to be Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) at the end of season one, which only enhances this particular plot. There is great pleasure in watching Pen juggle her double life, especially as bestie Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) goes full Sherlock Holmes.

But for all of the lust, the laughs, and the Googling of 'what is Queen Charlotte sniffing?', Bridgerton season two's greatest triumphs are in the scenes between Anthony and his mother, Violet (Ruth Gemmell).

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Image: Netflix.

We learn more about patriarch Edmund Bridgerton and his untimely death which left Anthony in charge of his entire family at just 18. It explains a lot about Anthony's character, his motivations and stresses, but also adds layers to Violet - a mother who we previously only knew for her desire to marry off her children.

Gemmell told Mamamia it was a "privilege" to flesh out her character more.

"I think most actors really relish the idea of showing human frailty and the vulnerability of a character. They're interesting to play. And I love those scenes, and I love them because of the subject matter.

"I think grief is universal and something that I certainly identify with and I think working with Johnny Bailey was a dream. I felt completely safe to play and to mess up and try again. It was lovely, and it was a different side of a Violet, I got to show a side that showed why that family is the way they are. And that was great."

Bridgerton is renowned for being racy. That remains, if in smaller doses. But in season two the most-talked about moments will be the ones that have you reaching for the tissues (for your eyes!!!)

Bridgerton season two is streaming on Netflix from March 25, 2022.

Chelsea McLaughlin is Mamamia's Senior Entertainment Writer. For more pop culture takes, sarcasm and... cat content, you can follow her on Instagram

Feature image: Netflix/Mamamia.