Bridgerton has taken the world by storm, drawing in audiences with its gorgeous fashion and steamy romances. With the release of the show’s second season, it is our duty to answer the ultimate question: which season was better? And of course, such a question is very complicated. We have to consider the storylines, the romantic leads, the character development, and more—it is a daunting task, but one we are eager to take head-on.
What exactly is Bridgerton?
Bridgerton, based on the book series of the same name by Julia Quinn, is a Regency-era show centering around the wealthy and well-respected Bridgerton family. There are eight children: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Elouise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth—yes, they were named in alphabetical order. Each season of the show focuses on one of the children as they fall in love; the first season tells Daphne’s story, the second season tells Anthony’s story. And while this goes on, an anonymous writer named Lady Whistledown begins publishing a scandal sheet—exactly what it sounds like—that quickly becomes very popular amongst the ton.
Season 1 Recap
Season 1 of Bridgerton focuses on Daphne Bridgerton coming into society, where she meets the Duke of Hastings, Simon. When Daphne is presented before the Queen—as all young ladies are—she is named the Diamond of the Season, making her the most desirable choice of a bride. Yet her controlling older brother Anthony, who is head of family, scares away nearly all of her suitors in his overzealousness. As a result, she and Simon make a deal: they will pretend to be courting; it would increase Daphne’s prospects and Simon would be saved from the mothers of the ton who want to pair him up with their daughters. Predictably, but certainly not with many twists and turns along the way, Daphne and Simon fall in love.
Season 2 Recap
Season 2 of Bridgerton focuses on Anthony Bridgerton, who decides to find himself a bride. He’s completely uninterested in a love match and only wants to fulfill his duty as the head of the family, so he decides to choose the Diamond of the Season: Edwina Sharma. But there’s one big roadblock: Edwina’s sister, Kate Sharma, knows that Anthony isn’t interested in love and tries to separate him from her sister. But along the way, the two end up falling in love, creating a very complicated situation that Edwina remains completely oblivious to. The story is rather different from Daphne and Simon’s, but special in its own way.
The most important aspect of these two seasons to consider is the storytelling. If the plot simply isn't engaging, nothing else will make much difference.
Let's first talk about Season 1. Daphne and Simon's story is relatively fast-paced, with a ton of development going on at once. It's the first season, which means it has to build the world of Bridgerton from scratch and flesh out the main characters in preparation for the later seasons, so it's understandable why the season feels so busy and filled to the brim. Even so, it does make the season feel more rushed, leaving less room for characters to fully develop and for us to become more attached to them.
Season 2, on the other hand, has a very different storyline. Kate and Anthony’s romance moves much more slowly, mostly because they are in denial of their own feelings for a good portion of the show. And once they realize they are falling in love with one another, Anthony is already engaged to Edwina, making it impossible for them to be together. Because Season 2 moves more slowly compared to Season 1, I found myself more attached to the characters because I was able to understand them better.
As a result, even though many fans of the show bemoaned the lack of steamy scenes in comparison to the first season, the second season had the best storytelling because it allowed for a closer look at each character’s motivations and inner thoughts.
After the storytelling itself, of course, we must consider the romance.
In Season 1, Daphne is very much an innocent girl debuting into society for the first time. Simon, however, comes from a very troubled past. His father was extremely abusive, causing him to promise himself that he wouldn't ever have a child to ensure that the family line—which was so important to his father—died with him. That oath then became the main conflict, as Simon refused to have children despite Daphne's desperate wish to be a mother. Everything comes to a head in a very controversial scene in which Daphne forces Simon to impregnate her despite him continuously telling her to stop. There has been much debate about whether Daphne's actions constituted rape, and the show's lack of handling toward the scene makes it particularly uncomfortable to watch, leaving a stain on what would have otherwise been a fantastic romance.
When it comes to Kate and Anthony’s romance, it’s quite different. Kate is a headstrong woman who has taken it upon herself to make sure her sister finds a good match. Anthony, the head of his family, feels the same pressure of familial duty. He is determined to marry solely to fulfill his duty and wishes to avoid love at all costs. Something I love about Kate and Anthony is that they have so much in common, yet clash so frequently. They are incredibly loyal to their families, and as the oldest children, feel an obligation to take care of the younger siblings. For Kate and Anthony, the conflict comes from outside circumstances: the fact that Anthony and Edwina are already engaged by the time they realize they are falling in love with one another. For two characters that are so determined to uphold the honor of their families, it’s an interesting contrast to witness the all-consuming love that brews between them.
I’m an absolute sucker for a slower romance story where the obstacle doesn’t come so much from complications with the characters themselves like in Season 1, but rather from an outside factor like in Season 2. As a result, Kate and Anthony’s romance definitely stuck with me more.
The Final Answer
As you might have expected (I'm not exactly subtle with my opinions) I love Season 2 of Bridgerton so much more than Season 1. Not only does it feel less crowded in terms of the storytelling, I absolutely adore the romantic leads. Kate and Anthony are fantastic and some of my favorite characters on the entire show. The way the relationship between them progresses from complete and utter enemies to two people who are desperately in love—but refuse to admit it—is smooth and believable. Overall, Season 1 and Season 2 of Bridgerton are both very good, but I urge you to take a look at Season 2 most of all, regardless of whether or not you enjoyed Season 1.