Bridgerton’s The first season was undeniably, unabashedly sexy. The steamy regency drama based on the novels of Julia Quinn burst onto Netflix in December 2020 and instantly became a sensation for the streaming platform. Created by Chris VanDussen and executive produced by the television maven Shonda Rhimes, Bridgerton chaste, British manners delicately balanced with wild and often graphic depictions of the lust shared between the series’ protagonists Rege-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor. Bridgerton the first season was the period manifestation of the well-worn maxim “a lady in the streets, but a freak in the sheets”. Again BridgertonThe second season of, which hits Netflix today, almost completely eliminated the sex that defined the first season, much to its detriment.
This is, in part, by design. Throughout Quinn’s novels, BridgertonRege-Jean Page’s second season removed The Duke of Hasting from Rege-Jean Page in favor of the romance between Jonathan Baileyof Lord Anthony Bridgerton and newcomer Simone AshleyIt’s Kate Sharma. After initially flirting on horseback, Anthony and Kate’s relationship becomes thorny and competitive. They trade barbs at polo matches and argue verbally while playing croquet, both swearing to find each other absolutely revolting while secretly yearning for each other. Their relationship is no different from that of Kate and Petruchio in Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew– an arrogant and overly proud man constantly at odds with a smart and stubborn young woman, also named Kate, who swore at men. Quinn acknowledged the similarities between her Kate and Shakespeare’s Kate, telling Glamor that “a lesser actress could have allowed Kate to become a Tame the shrew caricature.”
As such, it takes a while for their relationship to blossom. It doesn’t help that Kate has a seemingly perfect younger sister, Edwina (Charitra Chandran), who is the object of all eyes and has several suitors, just like Kat’s sister in Shakespeare’s play. Corn Bridgerton deviates from Shakespeare’s narrative by having Anthony betrothed to Edwina – not Kate. While this creates a very real obstacle that drives away Anthony and Kate’s passion for each other, it also destroys any opportunity for the lovebirds to physically engage.
And as a result, the first season’s three-minute sex montages were swapped for muffled garden whispers. Cunninglingus in the stairwell have been replaced by almost kissing in libraries. Everything is forbidden in the polite society of the Regency but, let’s be honest: one of these modes is much more exciting than the other.
an asexual Bridgerton goes against the tide of the current television landscape, which seems to be going in the opposite direction. Shows like HBO’s EuphoriaHulu’s Pam and Tommyand HBO Max Naughty have leaned heavily into fragrant displays of erotica, especially displays that center the male form. Bridgerton’s Season one leaned more directly into that narrative, with Bustle going so far as to rank the show’s sex scenes based on how much of Page’s butt we could see at any given time. But you’d be hard-pressed to make a similar list for Bailey’s butt in season two, because Anthony spends most of his time brooding over family matters.
Eventually, Anthony and Kate consummate their love – outside under a pergola, in a scene straight out of a romance novel covered by Fabio. But after seven episodes of waiting, the moment feels anticlimactic. Delayed gratification can be sexy, but wait too long and you’re on the dangerous ground of losing interest. We can only watch Anthony and Kate ignore their true feelings for each other for so long, repeating the same conversation about choosing ‘family duty’ and ‘honor’ over their affection for one another. for the other, before we desperately want to shout “go ahead already” on our television screens or simply move on.
The magic of BridgertonThe first season of was in its dexterity at balancing the exterior prudishness of the Regency era with its searing underbelly. By the end of the season two finale, the series seems to realize that the balance is off; it throws in a scene of newly married Anthony and Kate canoodling on gorgeous white sheets. When the newlyweds descend to greet the family members waiting for them, they joke about being late, and even consider going back up to pick up where they left off. Watching these scenes, you can’t help but imagine the Bridgerton the producers trying to cram as much fun as possible into the final moments of the season, realizing they may have leaned too much into Anthony and Kate Tame the shrew dynamic for too long.
Granted, filming the second season during COVID made it harder to shoot intimate scenes, with most cast and crew having to stay six feet apart. But by design, this season has always been more about the sexy side of restraint than the sexy side of sex. While some may appreciate the purity and modesty of season two, many will find that Bridgerton didn’t turn up the heat until the bitter end. And unfortunately it makes it a bit boring Bridgerton– which, as Lady Whistledown will tell you, is the greatest sin of all.
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