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‘Bridgerton’ Season 2 Turns Out to be ‘Brownerton’ Steeped in Romantic Magnetism Fueled by Forbidden Desire

‘Bridgerton’ Season 2 Turns Out to be ‘Brownerton’ Steeped in Romantic Magnetism Fueled by Forbidden Desire

  • The much-anticipated series shows that Indian girls are not all sugar and spice and true men do like the challenge of courting a beauty with brains.

I suppose we all fell in love with Shonda Rhimes’ American period drama “Bridgerton” Season 1 based on Julia Quinn’s novels. There were several factors that aided and abetted this love at first sight. The entire human race was stuck at home akin to caged birds because of the pandemic. Living literally in our pajamas, our lives were drab like our masked faces. Stripped of fashion and glitz. When elegant lords and ladies of the “Ton” promenaded on our TV screens, we swooned. We thoroughly enjoyed the passionate romance between the beautiful debutante Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and the dark Duke Simon Basset (Rege Jean-Page). In December 2020, this was the best Christmas present that the doctor ordered.

The affairs of the “Ton” became our household obsession. We were hooked on line and sinker. Our hopes were dashed a bit when we learned that the handsome Duke of Hastings was not returning to season 2. Nevertheless, most Bridgerton fans were eager for the second season. Our lives are not the same because the pandemic has abated and most of us are no longer working from home. When I heard Jimmy Fallon announce that the new season was streaming on Netflix (on March 25th), I paused his show in mid-sentence and opened Netflix on my phone. I pretty much binge-watched the entire season last weekend. 

It was nice to see that “Bridgerton” had diversified into Brownerton, The two Sharma sisters: Kate (Simone Ashley Pillai) and Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) steal the show with their perfect postures, high cheekbones, angular jawlines and smoldering dark eyes. Edwina is the perfect debutante (diamond) with the most amicable finishing school etiquette. She appears to be what the most eligible bachelor of the season, Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) ordered. Viscount Anthony has lost a bit of his rakish demeanor by trimming his sideburns and high-handed ways. He wants to make a match with an agreeable lady whose hips are fit to carry his heirs. He is quite charmed with Edwina because to his surprise he even has more than half a brain and can carry on an intelligent conversation. 

But there is a big fly in the ointment, Anthony is nettled by Edwina’s older half-sister, a proclaimed spinster at 26, who is determined to dissuade Anthony from popping the question. Kate is living vicariously through her sister, losing her mother at a young age, she takes on the role of protecting Edwina and as her “didi” wants her to make a “love match.” Edwina in her soft, flowy gowns and delicate pearl chokers is infatuated with the idea of becoming the Viscountess of Bridgerton. She notices the unexpected animosity between her suitor and sister. She tries to placate Kate into liking Anthony.

After that, the season pretty much is staged like a big flower arrangement with Kate and Anthony as the centerpieces. They are thrown together in almost every frame. Riding horses at daybreak. Falling in mud while playing pall mall (similar to croquet), being stung by bees, hunting, midnight rendezvous in the library, sitting cheek to cheek at the races or dancing.

Kate Sharma is standoffish, like a prickly cactus and makes no attempt to succumb to Anthony’s high society charms. She stands aloof in her structured, thick taffeta high-waisted silk gowns in jewel tones. Phthalo blues, emerald greens and of course in every shade of lilac, lavender and purple to subconsciously nudge the hero of the tale (who is afraid of falling in love) that he is destined to wed her. I was glad to see that Indian actors were given decent roles and their characters were not caricatured by the director Tom Verica. They were treated as equals by the Queen, and the other “Tons,” were not immune to the usual scandal and gossip. 

The season was steeped in romantic magnetism fueled by forbidden desire. But I felt that the plot was a bit stretched. I fell asleep between the rigmarole of “filial duty” and “self-denial” right in the middle of the steamy kissing scene in the church. I woke up and rewound to the wedding ceremony and watched the final episodes again to make sure that the season did not end in unrequited love. 

Many subplots were introduced to be reintroduced in the upcoming series: The quagmire over money or lack of, in the house of Featherington. Colin’s return from Greece and Penelope’s (Nicola Coughlan) hope to win his attention. The Queen’s determination to uncover Lady Whistledown’s identity (I was so glad it was not revealed. As a writer, I am quite fond of Lady Whistledown’s juicy tidbits). The budding romance between Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jesse) and Theo Sharpe (Calam Lynch). What transpires in the school of art. The small-mindedness of the Sheffields (Edwina’s maternal grandparents). The old-fashioned repartee between Queen Charlotte (Adjoa Andoh) and Lady Danbury (Golda Rosheuel) is salty but not as enjoyable as those from “Downton Abbey.” 

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The Sharma sisters’ devotion for each other appeared true to their Indian heritage but it did not keep Edwina from cutting her older sister down to size in a rather generic way when she discovered that her beau was stolen from under her pretty nose. The on-screen chemistry between the romantic leads speaks volumes for their off-screen friendship. They work very well together as a unit. 

The conflicted love story is a well-hashed romantic recipe in Bollywood movies. People lap up the flying sparks and the “haters-turned lovers” genre abound in movies like “Bride and Prejudice” derived from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” There is also a scene lifted straight from P and P where Anthony falls into the water and emerges like a shirtless Mr. Darcy, to warm Kate’s cold heart.  

My daughter noticed instrumental music from “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” at Edwina’s Haldi ceremony. She also commented on the increasing diversity of actors, directors and producers in Hollywood thanks to Netflix. Meanwhile, there may be Nine seasons of “Bridgerton” dedicated to the nine siblings. How do you like that? Ready for more of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland rolled into one. I wonder why it was so difficult for the period elite to express their true feelings? Was it because the roles of men and women were very different from what they are in the modern era? For men of means, marriage was and is still a convenience. Whereas for women of no means, not being married at that time was a great inconvenience. 

With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published hundreds of poems, movie reviews, book critiques, and essays and contributed to combined literary works. Her two books are My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.

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