Welcome Back to the Ton: Bridgerton Season 2 is Finally Here

Welcome Back to the Ton: Bridgerton Season 2 is Finally Here


An interview with the cast, behind-the-scenes fashion facts, and more

Related: Have Your Own Bridgerton Moment By Wearing These Local Corsets

Dearest gentle readers, welcome back to the ton.

Bridgerton returns for a second season on March 25, 2022. In keeping with the tradition of the novels, season two tells the romance story of Lord Anthony Bridgerton’s (played by Jonathan Bailey) quest for love—among the many other complicated yet captivating plot. This romantic, scandalous, and clever global phenomenon Netflix series celebrates the timelessness of enduring friendships, families finding their way, and the search for a love that conquers all.

Driven by his duty to uphold the family name, Anthony’s search for a debutante who meets his impossible standards seems ill-fated until Kate (Simone Ashley) and her younger sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) Sharma arrive from India. When Anthony begins to court Edwina, Kate discovers the true nature of his intentions—a true love match is not high on his priority list—and decides to do everything in her power to stop the union. But in doing so, Kate and Anthony’s verbal sparring matches only bring them closer together, complicating matters on both sides. 

Meanwhile, across Grosvenor Square, the Featheringtons must welcome the newest heir to their estate while Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) continues to navigate the ton whilst keeping her deepest secret—the most sought after gossip monger’s real identity—from the people closest to her. 

The season’s trio: Anthony Bridgerton, Kate Sharma and Edwina Sharma

Bridgerton welcomes Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran in its newest season. What’s it like to join such an esteemed cast to tell a great story? Both intimidating and intimate, according to the two. Shooting during the pandemic but still seeing everyone in their peak performance has been thrilling for the members of the series.

This book series authored by Julia Quinn set in London’s Regency era has enthralled many readers, including the cast themselves. Bailey and Ashely have been particularly passionate about this. “We both tried to fight tooth and nail to prove we are the biggest fans of Kate and Anthony more than anyone who has read the books. We were very protective of characters that are so well-loved and so we wish to inspire in the same way the books did,” says Bailey.

The chemistry between Kate and Anthony was something most admired in the books. According to Bailey, it carries an amazing love as well as sweeping stories. What is really interesting for him is that they have so much to overcome. The enemies to lovers trope that’s been tried and tested fascinates him because it was such a big journey. 

“We are equally matched in enthusiasm on telling a story about yearning and withholding. It was a click from the moment we met. It was testament to the show and its creative values. Our performances are only part of it. Every department is working at a maximum to make sure the chemistry comes through. We are in a great working partnership. Glad that you can sense the sizzle,” says Bailey.

Coughlan, who plays the role of Penelope Featherington, also thinks Anthony and Kate’s dynamic is so brilliant, as it is about two people who are on a totally even level but just kept butting heads—sort of like Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Shakespeare’s Beatrice and Benedick duo. 

The trio also shared the lessons the audience can pick up from their characters. For Anthony Bridgerton, it was about looking inward and knowing for a fact that serving others can sometimes be an act of self-sabotage, which is why there is much need for balance. 

For the Sharma sisters, it was about love above all things. “With Edwina, self-love is arguably the most important kind of love. Especially when you’re a woman of color, your life can be determined by obligations and sacrifices, and it takes a lot of courage to step out and choose yourself,” says Chandran. Ashley also agrees to this, sharing that it’s about going all out to get the love you want and deserve, something her character Kate has always been afraid to do for herself.

Yours Truly, Penelope Featherington

What was the first season like for Penelope Featherington before, well, the big reveal?

“Season one was about keeping it under the surface and in her head, so when the doors were blown open, everybody saw what was going on, at least looking back. This time, however, created new challenges, with her being so clever, tricking people and moving around London in the nighttime. She’s a very complicated character with lots of side to her,” Coughlan shares.

There’s really no clear origin as to how Lady Whistledown started, but Coughlan enumerates a few things as to why the anonymous author writes on the subject of the ton and in the manner she does. Much like how she believes her character Penelope needs constant praise from Eloise, and despite being constantly together causing tension to her other business, Lady Whistledown is also about recognition.

“She doesn’t belong to her family, she is quite shy so she doesn’t express herself the best in person, she grew up in a family that’s constantly sniping at one another so she internalized it and brought it to her words, and she loves to read. The ton thinks she is funny, clever and cunning, and this pushes her to write because everybody loves it,” she says.

It’s no surprise that gossip is a central aspect in the series. Coughlan sees it as a thing people like to pretend they don’t like. But let’s admit it, everybody wants to indulge in a little bit of gossip.

“I think that in this time in history, women had so little agency over what they can do in their lives that this was one thing that they really had control of. They were queens of this domain of gossip. I totally get why it was such a thing. I think nobody is immune to a juicy piece of gossip,” she shares.

In terms of her character’s growth, Penelope is figuring things out: how to exist in the world, how her business is going to work, how her relationships are adapting. But she’s not as wise as she thinks she is, at least for Coughlan.

“Her strongest characteristic is that she loves deeply. She really loves Eloise and Colin but her love can cloud her judgment. Sometimes she sees things in rose tinted glasses or how she wants to see them,” she says.

Corsets, gowns, and trousers: Wardrobe in the Regency Era

One thing that makes up the Bridgerton identity would have to be the extremely elaborate wardrobe. Who wouldn’t want to slip in those intricate ball gowns and sharp waistcoats?

“When we step out and look on point, absolutely amazing—colors, design, hand tailoring,” says Ashley.

For Chandran, it never gets old. Even after eight months when they think they couldn’t be more amazed by these dresses, each time they just kept raising the bar. “They are always smashing it. And they are all couture so they are all handmade in our measurements—when in life do we ever get that? Jewelries were handmade for us, some of the lace is from France where they created the design and got it done. Craftsmanship all over the world is utilized on the show,” she shares.

There’s nothing but utter brilliance and creativity in the series’ gorgeous pieces. Hats off to Bridgerton’s costume designer Sophie Canale and her team.

“Clothing defines us—who we are, what we do, what we believe in. Looking at historical references is always my starting point because if you’re combining contemporary and period, you need to know the rules to be able to break them,” Canale says.

The character progression is also expertly reflected in design choices, according to Bailey. Filming in the pandemic, the supply chain has been disrupted and has placed a great deal of pressure on the design department. Despite this, resourcefulness prevailed and they still managed to get materials from all over the world. 

“It was down to the wire. Everyday it was a real thrill,” says Bailey.

5 Behind-The-Scenes Fashion Facts of Bridgerton Season 2

  1. Anthony Bridgerton’s costuming color palette is darker this season to reflect how seriously he’s taking his search for a partner. But over the course of the season, as he begins to loosen up a bit, his wardrobe becomes looser and lighter and he begins to dress more and more like his father Edmund.
  1. Similarly, Kate Sharma’s costuming is heavier, very neat, and tight at the beginning of the season. But as she lets her arc down, her costuming and hair become freer and looser.
  1. Penelope Featherington’s dress for the Diamond Ball was inspired by a famous dress that Kylie Minogue wore on tour. Minogue’s dress, blue and featuring many sparkling silver stars, was designed by John Galliano.
  1. To make Philippa Featherington’s dress for the Diamond Ball, the costuming team used over 14,000 crystals in four shades of gold. 
  1. Each episode of Bridgerton averages about ninety costumes, and sometimes more. Episode One of this season alone features 146 costumes.

On feminism, gender roles and love through the ages

In the series, Queen Charlotte chooses a young lady to hail as the diamond of the season—and families, particularly the mamas, will do anything to get their daughters that very title.

The standards are unattainable and ever-changing, which is kind of the point of the diamond. Perfection is expected yet it isn’t actually set or explicitly stated. The risk of that is any woman can be tainted so easily by lies or preferences. The way the queen uses these expectations on the show or how it functions in today’s society yields power over young women by expecting us to hold these standards, whatever they may be. It’s controlling and difficult for young women to find their independence and uniqueness within that. So, set your standards and follow it,” says Chandran.

Ashley also notes that there’s a lot of mirroring with Queen Charlotte and Edwina as well as Lady Danbury and Kate, especially later on in the series. Chandran explains that the queen also came to the English court in her early teens and had to go through the very same thing young women, such as their characters, had to face every season.

“That of Edwina’s is a female story in a world where gender roles are so specific, and that outward affirmation hopefully drives women to see Charithra’s character take agency and inspire,” says Bailey.

Coughlan urges women prioritize themselves because, almost innately, there’s always that habit of putting everybody else first. “Like when they say in the plane you have to put your oxygen mask on before anybody else’s, apply that to your life because when you’re taken care of you will better serve anyone or do whatever you’re doing,” she says.

Coughlan’s character is the makings of modern: she wants both requited love and purposeful writing. She is devoted to her career as it is her passion, but she’s also a real romantic who wants that kind of love. 

“In her mind she’s not willing to compromise either, which she shouldn’t. And hopefully no woman should have to compromise that. If I were her friend, I would say that you are not going to get what you want by doing what you’re doing now, deceiving the people you care about the most,” explains Coughlan.

She sees love, or at least relationships, in the Bridgerton setting as transactional. Women had an equivalent value, particularly a dowry. It was all about blending families together. Women then didn’t have much say in it, but Coughlan is hopeful that today, it’s a woman’s choice on who to marry.

“There’s always something good and bad. People were much more upfront then. If you danced with a gentleman at a ball, he had intent. He would come the next day to your house and spend time with you. I think a lot of that has gotten lost. There are things I’d definitely leave in the past and things we can learn from,” Coughlan explains.

Her character Penelope is part of the Featherington family, a family meant to be the new money the ton. Coughlan says they don’t really have the best taste and that a lot of it is ruled by what Portia Featherington thinks. The way the girls are always dressed in bright colors is also something taken from Julia Quinn’s books.

“Portia is really giving her best. It was a society ruled by men and you needed a man by your side to accomplish a lot of things, and she doesn’t have one. Having these three girls, she needs to have them married because that’s their purpose in life, but everything seems to be going against it. She is very misunderstood,” she explains.

With stories deeply rooted in familial obligations, society’s expectations and consuming passions, the female characters of the Bridgerton series are far more greater than any diamond, whether a precious stone or a royalty’s approval.

Back at the ton

Bridgerton’s newest episodes are now available on Netflix—will this be a successful season for the ton?

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