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More polite than passionate: has Bridgerton lost its sparkle?

Bridgerton became a phenomenon thanks to the explosive chemistry between its lovers, so is the biggest scandal in season two that it’s not scandalous enough? *Contains spoilers*

In an era overflowing with an abundance of television series over numerous viewing platforms, it can be difficult to discern a winning show. However, just as Queen Charlotte can choose a diamond amongst debutantes, viewers crowned Bridgerton as their diamond amidst a crowd of other competing programmes.

First appearing on our screens on Christmas Day 2020, Bridgerton presented extravagant balls featuring string quartet adaptations of modern pop songs, with scandalous storylines concerning society’s most wealthy and respected. It had viewers gripped.

Central was the delicious courtship between the chaste and beautiful Daphne Bridgerton and handsome rogue Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings. Their onscreen chemistry was undeniable and had many a heart’s swooning as their relationship blossomed.

Audiences could feel the heat exuding from their screens, especially during the passionate, bodice-ripping scenes. And it all culminated in a happily ever after ending of a wedding and start of a family together.

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It is always the challenge for a phenomenon to repeat its success. And series one was certainly a hard to act to follow.

The main storyline this time around follows the love triangle between the Viscount, Anthony Bridgerton, head of the Bridgerton household, and sisters, Kate and Edwina Sharma, who have returned to the ton after a long period of absence.

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Kate, the older, headstrong sister, plays the role of protector for her family and Edwina is the sweet, naive and impeccably mannered diamond of the season. Despite developing strong feelings for Kate, the Viscount proposes marriage to Edwina after a long, drawn out, will-he-won’t-he period.

The wedding comes to a grinding halt at the altar, when Edwina notices a shared look between her betrothed and her sister and realises where his true feelings lie. What immediately ensues is the inevitable conflict between both sisters, resulting in Kate and the Viscount attempting to bury their undeniable feelings for each other out of a sense of familial duty.

The Bridgertons are back – cue lots of pretty clothes and plenty of scandal Photo: Netflix

While the storyline itself offers intrigue and drama, the performances at times seem lacklustre. The acting of Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley is strong but the chemistry is lacking.

Gone are the taboo, eye-popping romps between lovers, instead replaced with mild-mannered long gazes, often from across a grand room. Even the highly anticipated, pivotal moment where the star-crossed lovers finally declare their love and embrace each other appears more polite than passionate.

There is also a significant amount of repetition in scenes between both Anthony and Kate, and Kate and Edwina.

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These words and the screen-time would have been better suited to further developing one of the few side storylines that lingered on the outskirts throughout the eight episodes, such as Eloise Bridgerton’s hunt for Lady Whistledown’s true identity. Or indeed Eloise’s secret friendship with Theo Sharpe, an assistant at the printers used by Lady Whistledown.

When the series returns for a third time, perhaps the relationship between Eloise and Theo will be the focus. Bring back the sauciness, make proper use of the rich ensemble cast of characters and hopefully one that brings back the sparkle that this diamond was missing this time around.

Bridgerton’s second season is available to watch now on Netflix

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