WNetflix declared that Bridgerton‘s breakout star Regé-Jean Page would not be returning for the show’s second season, fans were more than a little upset. It didn’t matter that Page was never destined to be the show’s leading man for long: in the BridgertonEach novel in the Bridgerton series is a book. Page’s Duke of Hastings, who married Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) in the first season, would have been a background player at best in the second. Page decided to continue his movie career. Season 2 will debut March 25, and Page is not there.
We are sore affected by his departure. Page had the kind of movie star charisma necessary to keep the show’s often ridiculous plot afloat.
Season one of Bridgerton featured some truly cringe-worthy storylines, like when the Hastings educates his future bride, Daphne, about masturbation, a conversation that tested even the most dedicated costume drama lover’s appetite for a historical heroine’s naïveté. After much flirtatious building up, the plot twists take a wild turn when Hastings and Daphne wed and consummate their relationship. Hastings swears he won’t have an heir because of his bitterness toward his father. He has claimed he cannot bear children and Daphne, who has a pretty limited understanding of how sex works, assumes he’s physically incapable. Once they do begin to have sex, the rest of the story centers on how quickly Daphne will figure out that Hastings isn’t being forthright about what exactly needs to happen to conceive a child.
On the page, the story stretched the bounds of credulity and even taste—the young couple’s conflict culminates in a controversial scene in which the Daphne tries to impregnate herself without the Hastings’ consent. The show did not dwell on the complexities of that encounter—or how the repressed nature of regency England might facilitate such violations—and instead focused on the final reconciliation between husband and wife when they finally agree to have a child. But Page, with his smoldering smile, sold the story’s absurdities.
In Bridgerton’s second season, Hastings and Daphne have settled into parenthood—and into the background of the show, as the storyline shifts to focus on a love triangle between Daphne’s brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) and the Sharma sisters, the headstrong Kate (Simone Ashley) and the beautiful but bland Edwina (Charithra Chandran). The writers blatantly model Anthony and Kate’s love story on the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. They fall in love and soon their mutual hatred turns into love. Their heated arguments turn into clear foreplay. The show has to find a way to keep them apart. Anthony, who is a man of few emotions, proposes to Edwina, the sister he doesn’t love. The love triangle ends in tragedy for everyone involved.
Simone Ashley (Kate Sharma) and Jonathan Bailey (Anthony Bridgerton) in Bridgerton
Bailey does not have Page’s charm. Page is the master of self-loathing leadership man. Bailey never manages to pull it off as well. It’s not entirely Bailey’s fault. Anthony, as a character is quite irritating. As the older, overprotective and sexist rakish brother of Daphne, he did well during the first season. But he carries all that baggage into his new role as romantic lead—and sexism isn’t exactly seductive. Anthony is described by the writers as a traumatized robot that yells at his siblings. But understanding why Anthony is so mean doesn’t make him any more pleasant to be around. Bailey is more resolute than Page, who squirmed in misery.
Anthony’s staunch refusal to just marry the woman he loves zaps the series of all momentum. Kate is a mix of Elizabeth Bennet, and Little Women‘s Jo Marsh—the headstrong woman who defies all of Anthony’s patriarchal expectations.However, she is a competitive person with few other qualities. The younger sister is generally more outgoing, but she does not have clear ambitions.
Season 2 would have had another star to stand out and make the flatness of these characters feel more powerful. Daphne, with her doe eyes, dutiful smiles, and bland personality, was quite boring at the start of her courtship. It didn’t matter. Regé-Jean Page could have generated sexual tension with an old time-y lamp post. Daphne’s complicated life became even more complicated after they got into an altercation. Daphne tricked her husband to have sex with him until the end to get pregnant. This made her more complex, and it may have been a bad scene.
But Bridgerton’The second season’s secondary characters are not enough to save it. It is shocking that the Bridgerton siblings get very little. Though season 1 hinted that Benedict Bridgerton (Luke Thompson) might be queer, Benedict only beds ladies in season 2, a decision that’s sure to frustrate fans hoping for a queer storyline in this race-blind version of Regency era England. The compelling quest of Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) to discover the identity Lady Whistledown, the writer behind the town’s gossip column, comes to a grinding halt for most of the episodes. All the Bridgerton brothers sound and look the same. It’s hard to tell them apart, which only further hampers Anthony’s mission to become a leading man.
BridgertonThere are still many underutilized actors who long to be on the center stage. We are most drawn to the Bohemian painter Benedict or the burgeoning feminist Eloise. Still, it’s difficult to imagine that BridgertonThe second season won’t make as much of a splash without Page and other stars who manage to strike the perfect balance between funny and serious.
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