Dearest lovelies, I’ve never loved being more wrong about something. I should’ve never doubted Chris and Shonda and team but trusted in their artistic and philosophical visions.
Did I like Bridgerton Season Two? I watched it two times within the 24 hours it debuted—what do you think?
First of all, as a fan, it’s important for me to unbiasedly critique something I love because it just feels healthier and more ethical socially, especially nowadays—most especially nowadays for societal, sociopolitical, and cultural reasons, but, of course, this should always be one of the main reasons. I’ve worked hard to not rationalize my biased opinions in order for something I love to exist, to endure, or to be popular, except when I needed to. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not, I do try. Are you rationalizing your own biased opinions of something you love because you’re suffering from the cognitive dissonance of not being able to concurrently hold more than two contradictory feelings or thoughts? It takes work but I’m positive you can do it—I believe in you. I know when someone pokes at something you love, the first reaction is to come out swinging. I promise I’ve been there, done that, and oftentimes still do occasionally. It hurts when someone disses on something you love and you fear the criticism will render it irrelevant and harm it so much that inevitably it will cease to exist. I have emotionally reacted to criticisms of the historical romance genre, and rightly so because the criticisms are usually condescending and dismissive never giving due respect and taking it seriously as an art or literary form or a sociopolitical or cultural medium. It downright pisses me off the disrespect the genre gets. That they continuously compare it to Jane Austen’s work is an endless source of annoyance to me since they are two totally separate genres both culturally and artistically. I’m also worried that as a medium, the genre can be weaponized as a tool to deny rights—this terrifies me, especially now, most especially now.
I was coming off a week where I and millions of others in America witnessed the bigoted bullying and cruelty towards Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a dark-skinned Black woman who had to sit there and take the abuse from racist, white, intellectually inferior, congressional Republican males. Having experienced this type of abuse firsthand of loved ones, it is traumatic and difficult to endure and I’ll never understand that kind of sociopathic cruelty. Never in my life have I needed some boxing gloves and a punching bag to rid me of the aggression. I refused to vent on Twitter because I was afraid I would say something that would get me placed in Twitter time-out, I was so heated. So, it was essential and important to witness Simone Ashley’s character Kate and her emotions of joy, anger, hope, et cetera, and to see her get all the love and her happily ever after.
A couple of days before the release, I got inundated with articles telling me that Bridgerton had reduced its sexual content. Well, you already know how I felt about the reduction of the four joys before if you follow my posts and how I reacted since. I was concerned it was an overall censorship move like what we’ve witnessed recently in America. I am highly skeptical of censorship in any form. It may not be literal censorship, but an overall censorship nuance, and liberal Hollywood is notorious for it. I’m positive the smartly articulate could write it better than I ever could and I dearly hope to read about it. It is important, especially nowadays. I know I keep repeating that, but it is imperative to witness, note, and say something.
It was as reported—the nature of the story didn’t allow for the amount of sex prior. Kate and Anthony did get their sex scenes later on and they were hot, if not prolific. Could other couples have had sex to relieve that story need like last season? Well, since Regé-Jean Page wouldn’t sign up for another season, his character didn’t even bother with an appearance, which was extremely awkward—why would he not show up to his brother-in-law and best friend’s wedding unless there was trouble at home if we were to play that story out? I would have voted to recast him. There are thousands of hunky talented Black men out there waiting for a chance and I’m positive more than a few would have great chemistry with Phoebe Dynevor’s Daphne. Some fans would’ve hated it—so be it; no need to be stingy; we can share the love. If the casting was right, it would’ve been a boon and still could. One of the reasons why I adore these historical romance family drama book series (Johanna Lindsey’s Malory family, Mary Balogh’s Westcott and Bedwyn’s, Elois James’ Wilde family, Essex Sisters, etc.) is that you get a chance after the happily ever after to witness the couples in blissful romantic domestic scenes when they return to drop by in other books. And as for sex in the rest of season two, since Anthony was having copious amounts of sex with the opera singer Siena last season, he couldn’t this season obviously, so there’s that. They did allude to his continued rake status as he was frequently crawling out of women’s beds nude (yum) and walking out of women’s bedrooms half-dressed in the first ep and was coming from one such assignation when he met Kate on their thrilling first scene. Having initially reacted to the news of the reduction of sex, I came away somewhat satisfied. I would’ve loved more but am happy we got any.
Lest you infer anything ugly or insidious from my ethnicity remarks prior, Bollywood is known for censoring intimacy and I’m unaware of how Netflix and Western movie producers navigate that market (or any censorship market) and the censorship rules therein—do they do it or does the government do it (like in China) or does it happen at all? It would be a shame that Indian women—or any woman—didn’t get to enjoy Simone Ashley’s performance, as well as Charithra Chandran and Shelley Conn. Representation matters, especially in the underrepresented Western markets, and the underrepresentation of any Black, Brown, Indigenous, or Women of Color ethnic culture in historical romance has always been an issue. I was curious as to how they would explore intimacy and sex given Simone’s character (she’s British of Indian Heritage with dark skin) and her family is from Bombay. I would love to read reviews and thoughts from Indian women of Western and Indian cultures to get their perspectives—actually from all perspectives really. I loved the Indian cultural scenes and references in the show.
I complained about the shaky camera direction in the latter eps but realized later it was probably because I hadn’t eaten—LOL, I know (remember, 2 viewings in 24 hours while working and little sleep). I did love the camera direction of the couple close up when they were attempting to resist their attraction to each other. I’ve always had an artistic fondness for voyeuristic cinematography in my own work (if that is what it’s called?). Bailey portrayed his facial expressions of longing perfectly. That scene when Kate walked by him and he closed his eyes and inhaled was so perfect I had to rewind it and watch it again. I always wondered why writers and directors didn’t present those kinds of scenes more in this medium as they do in romance novels (barring Shonda—Derek and Meredith sniffing each other in the elevator). Given that those types of sensory scenes are most prevalent in romance novels and that women predominantly write romance novels and that men on average sit in the writers’ and directors’ chairs, I’ll let you infer what you will. Thankfully Chris and team, along with Bailey, captured it perfectly in a handful of scenes that rocked my world. When Kate and Anthony cannot keep from looking and touching each other when Newton pounces on them and Edwina looks at Lady Danbury and asks was she that blind about what was happening—that entire scene is flawless.
All the women in this series are outstanding in their roles. Adjoa Andoh and Golda Rosheuvel (her wigs are glorious!) lead a phenomenal cast. Jonathan Bailey has consistently excelled in his role as well. The music, makeup, costume and hair design, cinematography, and production design—all outstanding. I don’t mind the anachronistic or historically inaccurate lack of sideburns and pantaloons and powdered wigs (on the main cast besides the queens, that is; her wigs rule!) in historical romance novels regardless of era.
This season’s story compared to the book? I honestly don’t know. I can’t remember the book. The only book of the Bridgerton series that I’ve read more than three times was When He Was Wicked because it was my favorite. I do remember though being underwhelmed with both Benedict and Eloise’s stories and thinking they deserved better, but that was a long time ago and my perspectives and opinions have changed lots since so please don’t hold me to it or against me.
As for the other characters—I was really excited to see where Eloise and Theo’s relationship would go and found that underwhelming. I wanted that relationship explored further. I didn’t make Eloise’s connection to Marina and Phillip until someone pointed it out on Twitter, which was somewhat disappointing because that means Marina will [spoiler], who made a brief appearance this season. Viola’s exploration of her relationship with Edmond, in addition to her grief, depression, and motherhood is always welcome as is Portia’s; also, Queen Charlotte’s role as wife. A romantic or sex life for these women would be ideal given older women aren’t supposed to have those in any era apparently. Eloise and Penelope’s dissolution of friendship was heartbreaking to witness.
The onslaught of some critics complaining again that the show is unbelievable and historically inaccurate in its depictions of race reads like racism and we should promptly dismiss those detractors. I have noticed that the British critics that reject the show as rubbish, or some other silly British insult, are superiorly condescending in their reviews, specifically in their failure comparing it to a show like Downton Abbey. Kind of like how it is consistently measured against Jane Austen. Yup, it gets tedious.
I’m watching the reviews and discussions evolve and will add thoughts here in updates. Right now though, I’m gonna relax, read, and watch it again…maybe? Yes, I’m a happy fan and cannot wait for additional seasons or similar shows.
An initial short review on first viewing:
Addendum: Some additional notes on the third viewing. Kate and Anthony’s antagonistic relationship at the beginning is perfect for that slow-burn brilliance that builds on their hot chemistry and sexual tensions later. I usually call that romantic angst and it indeed was stellar. I do love, love, love Simone Ashley and how she played Kate’s fierceness. She is so much fun. I also forgot about Benedict having sex. I’m not sure why he wasn’t allowed to just take it all off when stripping for his lady artist (sorry, I forgot her name)—I was prepared to throw money at my tv. I yelled when they cut the scene short. I’m actually starting to like the second season more than the first season. I’m perfectly okay with 8-hour-long episodes. Wasn’t too long for me.
Good review here from THR.
If you haven’t done it yet, check out the #Bridgerton tag on Twitter. Love that fandom.
I have decided that I do indeed like it better than the first season.
Bridgerton’s South Asian representation is wonderfully anachronistic by Ankita Rao.
© 2022 Matilda London/Pamela Gay Mullins
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