Bridgerton Is Back for a Steamy Second Season on Netflix

In the dark days of 2020, before vaccines were available and while election unease still churned, Bridgerton arrived to save us. Our salvation landed in the form of a dashing duke, flanked by sharp-tongued ladies in gossamer gowns and romantic intrigue by the ton, all wrapped up in a candy-colored Netflix series.

Now, on the eve of the season two premiere on March 25, Julia Quinn—otherwise known as Julie Pottinger, longtime Seattle resident and author of the Bridgerton romance novels—is ready for another round of watching her characters translated to screen, an experience she calls “surreal and bonkers in the best possible way.”

From the first casting news, Bridgerton looked different than most romance adaptations. Executive produced by Shonda Rhimes of Grey’s Anatomy fame, the show uses inclusive casting to reimagine a Regency where people of color fill some of the highest positions in society—right down to Queen Charlotte, played by Black actress Golda Rosheuvel (inspired by the real possibility that the historical figure was of mixed ethnicity ).

The show quickly grew from Netflix hit to cultural phenomenon: Star Regé-Jean Page hosted Saturday Night Live and parodies spread as far as the NFL Network, where football draftees were reimagined as debutantes overseen by a Lady Whistleblown, a pun on the show’s gossipy Lady Whistledown. “I was expecting it to be successful. I didn’t think we were going to bomb or flop or anything,” says Pottinger, but “I never thought I’d be culturally relevant to the NFL.”

But season two isn’t just more of the same. The first bombshell: Page, who played the first season’s romantic lead, is not returning for season two. Pottinger and her romance-reading fans weren’t as shocked as the rest of us. “What I think people don’t realize is that a romance novel series is not sequels, it’s more of a collection of spin-offs,” she says; traditionally such books end with a happily-ever-after and the main couple appears little in future installations.

So season two will center on oldest Bridgerton child Anthony courting a Taming of the Shrew-ish pair of sisters. Given that Anthony’s very first scene in season one involved an al fresco shag with an old girlfriend, he represents a more subtle shift in romantic hero: One whose sexual past is more than vague off-the-page memory.

The show may follow some classic tropes, but one foot is firmly in the present day. Last year audiences reacted in fervor to a sex scene most saw as sexual assault—perpetrated by the female lead, Daphne. The author is happy to see a conversation around consent that was all but absent twenty years ago. “When the book came out, nobody said a word,” she says, but she thinks audiences still struggle to understand the power dynamics of a patriarchal society, even one scored to instrumental Ariana Grande. †[Daphne is] not a modern woman, and she’s not in our society,” says Pottinger.

since the show first premiered, New York Times best-selling author Pottinger has been working on a very different kind of project: a graphic novel of the book-within-a-book Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron† It started as a joke in a later Bridgerton installment, a send-up of a madcap gothic novel where the heroine flails between pirates, kidnappers, and various other perils.

The book becomes a reality this May, illustrated and co-written by Pottinger’s sister, Violet Charles; the partnership gained new poignancy when Charles, along with their father, was killed by a drunk driver last summer. “I want the world to see how brilliant and funny she was,” says Pottinger. “It really hurts my heart so much that she doesn’t get to see this.”

Potter got to visit the show’s set in England. Unlike, say, George RR Martin, she’s finished her central role in the Bridgerton universe and can merely enjoy watching the saga move to screen without the pressure to produce more.

For season two, there was only one element from the source novel that Pottinger insisted to be included: a cutthroat round of pall-mall, a croquet-like lawn game that brings out the Bridgerton family’s competitive nature. The scene, she assures readers, made the cut. “I’m a consultant, and I’m pretty hands off, but if there was no pall-mall, I was going to consult the hell out of the show.”

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