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Regency-era “Gossip Girl” is back, delivering another season filled with lavish balls, classical renditions of pop songs and heaping piles of high-society drama. The highly anticipated second season of “Bridgerton” dropped on Netflix March 25, promising considerable scandal. The show somewhat succeeds, trading most of last season’s steamy scenes for stronger character growth and development.

This season, based on the second book in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” focuses on the eldest Bridgerton sibling, Anthony, and his attempts to find a suitable bride.

Anthony, who found his heart broken by opera singer Siena Rosso at the conclusion of season one, is now sporting less prominent sideburns and a more angsty attitude. He finally agrees to find a wife but vows to remove love from the equation, instead focusing on his bride-to-be’s intellectual and childbearing potential that is expected of the next viscountess.

This is where Kate Sharma comes in. As the daughter of deceased Indian clerk Mr. Sharma and English Lady Mary Sheffield Sharma — or is she? — Kate is the Elizabeth Bennet to Anthony’s Mr. Darcy. Their intense gazes and witty banter seems taken out of the 2005 Keira Knightley adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice.” At one point, Anthony even has a lake scene similar to Colin Firth’s in the 1995 miniseries adaptation of the classic. 

As a result, it isn’t surprising the chemistry between Kate and Anthony is obvious to everyone around them except Kate’s gentler, younger sister Edwina, who ends up engaged to Anthony instead. The love triangle between Kate, Anthony and Edwina is predictable from the beginning, causing Anthony and Kate’s storyline to drag on a bit too long in some of the later episodes. 

However, this doesn’t mean it wasn’t entertaining to watch. I found myself hanging onto every word from Kate and Edwina simply because I thought they were interesting additions to the cast. Edwina has perhaps the most surprising development this season; she balances the role of Queen Charlotte’s diamond this season, yet discovers who she really is in the process. Kate is a classic example of a headstrong woman stuck in the wrong century, but she still retains a softness reserved for those she cares for. 

Kate’s backstory also parallels Anthony’s; both are selfless older siblings with deceased fathers who shoulder the burden of caring for their families. This dynamic makes for a much more meaningful romance than the one Daphne formed with the Duke of Hastings, Simon, last season. 

I did not mourn the departure of Regé-Jean Page from the show, as I didn’t really care about Simon’s storyline with Daphne. Daphne wasn’t given nearly enough backstory or character development as Anthony or even Simon. In season two, she gets little to no further backstory, relegated to her role as a duchess and a mother. 

Another interesting storyline revolves around Anthony’s younger sister, Eloise, and her first season being out in society. Eloise is about as awkward and defiant as I expected. She doesn’t let her new status keep her from her ongoing quest to discover the elusive gossip writer Lady Whistledown’s identity. In fact, Eloise takes her investigation even further this season, briefly taking us away from the world of the “ton” and into the working class.

We, of course, already know that Lady Whistledown is none other than Eloise’s best friend, Penelope Featherington. Penelope is perhaps my favorite character on the show, and this season sees her struggle to keep her identity a secret while still publishing her paper. Penelope’s intelligence combined with her wallflower capabilities make her a perfect opponent for the queen, who is still hellbent on taking Lady Whistledown, well, down.

It’s also still heartbreaking to watch Penelope interact with the third-oldest Bridgerton sibling, Colin, whom she has a major crush on. She and Colin clearly care for one another deeply, and this season made it even more evident to me that they share similar dreams and would make a lovely couple. 

However, Penelope’s storyline was the only Featherington storyline I was really invested in. After the death of gambling addict and all-around bad husband Lord Archibald Featherington last season, Lady Portia Featherington is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Lord Featherington, who has inherited the family estate and all its debts. 

This scheme-filled storyline establishes the fact that Portia is way smarter than her deceased husband ever was, but I still found it tiresome when there were better stories already going on. Portia’s other daughters, Prudence and Philippa, are still annoying and kind of forgettable.

If we’re to go by Quinn’s books, then the next season should focus on Benedict Bridgerton, the artsy second oldest brother who spends his time at art school this season. However, while there is some setup for a Benedict-focused story, Colin also has a compelling case for being the next main character. Even Shonda Rhimes, who serves as one of the executive producers for “Bridgerton,” indicated the possibility of the show going out of book order.

Though I still maintain mixed feelings about “Bridgerton” and will probably not rewatch the first two seasons, I still appreciate the upward trajectory the show is going in. I have somewhat high hopes for season three, no matter who the writers choose to focus on.

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I am a first-year studying zoology with minors in entomology and applied ecology. I started writing for the news section in the fall of 2021. I plan to graduate in 2025.