The lords and ladies are impatient. A new wedding season, but no new Whistledown. If she doesn’t resurface soon, who will comment on the scandals and drama that is ever so predominant in their harsh Victorian lifestyles?
With a plot rich in dramatic scandals and stirring romances, season one sensationalized viewers in an instant, gaining the viewership of 82 million households, as of October 2021. Season two was certainly anticipated by audiences, so it serves to reason that this season should have twice the danger and twice the fun. However, the second season’s drama causes an extreme reliance on popular tropes, which is why I have decided to examine the three most important tropes of this season to determine whether or not Bridgerton follows through on the excitement that was so awaited.
Dutiful and Pitiful
This season focuses primarily on Anthony Bridgerton, portrayed by Jonathan Bailey, and his relationship with the Sharma sisters, Edwina and Kate, played by Charithra Chandran and Simone Ashley, one of which he is courting, and the other he can not seem to stop thinking about. Anthony is an exceptional example of the classic dutiful son trope. He believes it is his responsibility to honor his family and that the best way to do that is to marry Edwina Sharma, the season’s “diamond,” as bestowed by the queen.
Anthony goes to great lengths to ensure his betrothal to Edwina is as flawless as possible, often brushing off his feelings for her older sister and flat-out ignoring the warnings that are constantly heeded to him by his family. This is a necessary addition to the season, but it is a pretty boring one. The whole "family’s protector" thing Anthony is responsible for maintaining is expected, as he is the firstborn son and his father died many years ago, but I just find it tiring.
Kate, Edwina’s older sister, also employs the dutiful son trope to a T, and I still find it rather boring. This does allow one to draw parallels between Kate and Anthony, the two lovebirds of the season, as each one understands the need to protect their family, but that doesn’t make this tedious trope any more exciting.
XOXO Lady Whistledown
Another trope used in this season is the "Town Gossip" (similar to a Gossipy Hen). Last season revealed Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) as the writer behind the infamous Lady Whistledown, the town’s gossip newspaper that seemingly knows—and tells—all. This season follows her path as she attempts to keep her secret from her best friend, Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie), who is incredibly determined to find out who the elusive Lady Whistledown is.
Penelope as Lady Whistledown plays right into a Gossip Girl-like role, which perfectly narrates and assists the plot to move forward throughout this season. I don’t mind a town gossip trope, as long as it is done right, and Bridgerton’s depiction of it is… okay.
Penelope and Eloise’s teetering friendship clashing with the constant releases of Lady Whistledown’s society papers shoves them toward a deep cavern full of betrayal and secrets. This could have been a marvelous aspect of the season, but its subplot nature is truly its downfall. Perhaps if the season had been more focused on Penelope’s secrecy instead of the forbidden romance of Kate and Anthony, the representation of this trope could have been much more exciting. By the end of the season, when Eloise and Penelope’s arcs come to a head, it is finally the excitement I need and leaves me wanting more, but I just wish that could have been the case for the entire season. It is impossible to fully appreciate the thrill of this subplot when comparing it to the utter exhilaration of the main plot. Perhaps if this season had been focused on Lady Whistledown and Eloise, and the next season had been focused on Kate and Anthony’s romance, both plots would have been given enough room to shine.
I Burn for You
The most compelling part of this season employs the enemies to lovers trope. Actually, it is a bit more like a three-in-one special; not only are Kate and Anthony enemies that eventually become lovers, but they also use the slow burn and love triangle tropes. Although I’m not a fan of a slow burn romance or a love triangle, the phenomenal application of enemies to lovers makes this section of the season riveting.
Kate and Anthony are entirely too dramatic, which magnificently fits within the parameters of the show and also propels both of them into a character arc where they must finally learn to act selfishly once in a while. Their outlandish theatrical responses to virtually anything they have to do performs a huge part in their relationship. Anthony is with Edwina, yet he has feelings for Kate and she has feelings for him, but he must marry Edwina to keep his family honorable. Oh, and Kate and Anthony both believe the other hates them. Honestly, it’s really just great fun. I’ve always been a fan of enemies to lovers. Whether it is Kat and Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, I love every second of it, and Bridgerton's second season’s employment of the trope indisputably carries the plot and is definitely a spectacular part of this season.
Although I love enemies to lovers, I do not love a slow-burn romance. They take too long and after a while, it’s exasperating to only watch small glances and accidental hand brushes instead of anything real. While I was obsessing over the enemies to lovers arc and the drama that comes with it in the last few episodes of the season, I was extremely frustrated with the entirely too slow escalation of Anthony and Kate’s relationship in the first half. I’m not normally a fan of a love triangle either, although Bridgerton’s portrayal is actually not too bad. This love triangle is, surprisingly, bearable because Anthony doesn’t have feelings for Edwina, and is instead purely fulfilling his role as protector and dutiful son of his family. In addition, the barrier of Edwina serves to multiply my delight in Anthony and Kate’s forbidden romance.
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