Bridgerton boys are back, alright, and, obviously, prepare for spoilers. Season 1 came at exactly the right moment, when we were in the throes of our first pandemic winter, desperate for love and attention. Season 2 arrived in the springtime of our discontent, and we ate it up without pausing to savor or question its quality. Even though we enjoyed some of the same familiar gimmicks this season, we were promised a whole new spin on both the Regency genre and Bridgerton itself and, while it started strong, the storytelling got lazy midway.
Bridgerton season 1 took the ton by storm because of the central toxic Regency couple that we couldn’t help but root for. We couldn’t wait for season 2 and then had to wait and wait and wait for the core couple to consummate. While the new season has been much maligned and also praised for its slow burn, season 2, while popular, is lacking not because of the dearth of sex scenes, but in the exact ways season 1 succeeded. Simply put, season 2 reuses old tricks but with less success.
If you were to ask Netflix, season 2 worked quite well, breaking viewing records. Viewers liked it too, of course. Plot-wise, it played off the classic romance trope of “enemies to lovers,” and included the always fun illicit love mixed with stubborn rich people. It ends happily. There are some butts.
The main storyline nodded to Hamilton’s Schyler sisters who will never be satisfied and very much played into our nostalgia for Regency cranky boys by dunking the white-shirted viscount in a lake à la Colin Firth in the Pride and Prejudice mini-series.
The plot most closely follows Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew—or 10 Things I Hate About You, if you prefer—in that there is a mean older sister as the smart but headstrong lead (named Kate in all iterations) who is softened by love, and a pure younger sister, gate kept by the elder, who is the object of mens’ desires. There is much fire imagery and wild, long hair blowing in the breeze from atop a horse. Good stuff, if a little on the nose for fans of Regency romance.
Jonathan Bailey as Anthony carried the team well and Simone Ashley as Kate was as worthy a sparring partner as her shrewish Shakespearean namesake. People watched it immediately, quickly, and repeatedly. So why wasn’t season 2 as well done?
My opinion? The good people at Bridgerton manipulated us gentle viewers and our need for anticipation and payoff and went too far into the land of cringe. The couple in season 1 married and therefore had significant amounts of sex by midseason, breaking the tension and allowing for a third act conflict and resolution. This season, all we had was anticipation. Season 2 took advantage of season 1’s success and reused tricks both from original Recency plots where marriage is the goal and, more egregiously, from season 1’s uniqueness.
Here’s the moment they used us: in season 2 episode 5, after assuring us over and over and over and over that he is a gentleman and therefore would never act on his longings, Anthony says to Kate, “Do you even know all the ways a lady can be seduced? The things I could teach you.” She says, breathily, “I did not ask for this.” Executed differently, this scene could be played as much more predatory. And here’s the rub.
Season 1, episode 5 is the wedding and episode 6 begins sexapalooza. Season 2 draws out the foreplay another two whole episodes. But that’s not the actual problem. The problem is that the conflict and resolution of season 1 banks on Daphne being innocent to the ways of sexytimes. Her character transformation goes from too pure to too powerful (let’s not let her off the hook for that rape scene) and then onto an equal footing with her husband. It is satisfying as sex with the duke.
Conversely, Anthony and Kate’s love is based on the fact that Anthony, to his dismay and later delight, sees Kate as an equal. They are well-matched in competitiveness, sense of duty, and hotness. When he informs her of all the ways he can make her give it up, he shifts the power dynamic right back into that of season 1, which does a disservice to our “they’re a love match because they’re alike” plot.
The next two episodes are a tortuous display of lust, not love. There’s sniffing, stares, and it’s implied the viscount walks around in the company of his mother and seven younger siblings with a constant semi. It’s not sexy to have a secret desire that your mom knows about.
The season redeems itself a bit at the end with some high quality “acty shit,” as my college acting professor calls it, from Bailey as he ushers his Anthony into a man capable of love. When the couple finally get fully naked in the penultimate scene, Kate bones her husband repeatedly, telling him with tongue and butt cheek that she’s doing it because she’s “dutiful.”
Taming of the Shrew is considered a “problem play” by modern standards because of the ending: once headstrong Kate gives a speech about why women should always obey their husbands. This doesn’t play for comedy nowadays. 10 Things improved upon the ending, but still, the shrew is tamed and the woman becomes a dutiful partner. Season 2 wants to play with this idea and whiffs it midway only to pretend in the end they had a strong female protagonist all along.
Bridgerton has wonderful moments of love and lust and has our number in a way no other show ever has. We will, in fact, keep coming back for more. Next time, however, when Benedict takes the spotlight and we’re hopefully (please oh please) not still in a pandemic panic, we may not be as forgiving if the show toys with us. Dear reader, I, for one, hope the team at Netflix heeds this warning and are up for the challenge.
Image: Courtesy of Netflix
When Bridgerton premiered back in December 2020, most of us were expecting another failed Pride and Prejudice replica. I mean come on, it was a Regency-era show about a (probably too young) girl looking for love and finding it in all the wrong places. Still, at that point (over 10 months into the pandemic), we were so tired of being stuck in our GD homes we would have watched sourdough rise for fun (oh wait, we did lol). Luckily for us, however, Bridgerton proved to be anything but a revamped Jane Austen. Sure, the show had romance and accents and corseted dresses that make the waist trainers of today look amateur. But more than that, it had sex. So. Much. Sex.
And it wasn’t just like, the couple kissed and fell on the bed and a shirt came off and then it cut to the next scene. We’re talking kiss, shirt off, nipples out. Oral sex! Vaginal sex! Sex on stairs and sex in chairs! Bridgerton season 1 was basically one giant romp-fest, which was great. After a year of isolation and a history of sex scenes that weren’t exactly written for the female gaze, Bridgerton gave us horny bitches the #content we deserved.
Then, of course, Netflix dropped Bridgerton season 2. And it’s not that season 2 of Bridgerton was bad or anything. It still had costumes and accents and torrid love stories. But the one thing it was clearly missing was the graphic sex we came to associate with the series. Sure, some people said they watched the show for the plot, but the thing is, they’re liars. We watch Bridgerton for the sex, dammit, and season 2 was like one very long, very cold shower.
But don’t worry. If you were burning for an erotic season 2, you’re not alone. And the good news is there are still ways you can get off to the much more watered-down season. No, it’s not as good as watching Simon (Regé-Jean Page) eat Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) out on a ladder, but if you’re trying to get off to the next installment, these eight options will keep you from having a fully orgasm-less season.
1. Watch All the Lingering Gazes on a Loop
Since most of Bridgerton season 2 is fingertip grazes and lingering glances, you might as well use the sexual tension to your advantage. In episodes 3, 4, and 5, it’s all “I hate you, but I clearly have the hots for you” spars between Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley), and in episode 6 they finally (FINALLY) have a fiery kiss.
Granted, it’s just basically seven whole episodes of will-they-won’t-they-but-we-know-they-will-so-just-f*cking-do-it-already scenes, but maybe think of it as foreplay? It’s a recipe for a pretty much full blue ball (or blue clitoris if you will) watch, but as long as you drown all the repetitive dialogue and“we can’ts” out with your loudest vibrator, it’ll get the job done.
2. Watch Episode 7, Then Watch it Again
After an entire season of *almost* sex, Anthony and Kate finally do it in the only real sex scene of season 2 during the second to last episode. Unlike the first season of Bridgerton where pretty much every other scene included a graphic hookup set to quartet renditions of Taylor Swift, season 2 is more like every other show where you sit around for a while before you get to the real masturbatory material. Episode 7 is that material.
The ego-crossed lovers finally get their freak on in a gazebo-type structure. Even though it’s totally unrealistic (who gets completely naked when having sex outside? At your family’s house? And then FALLS ASLEEP?! This isn’t camping, folks!), it’s still hot in a “this would never happen” kind of way. There’s undressing and moaning and some clear cunnilingus for the only time in the season, so grab your toys and get at it. Repeated viewing suggested.
3. Search Thirst Traps of the Cast Instead of Paying Attention to Episodes 1-6
Since this season lacks the sexual allure of the past, you’re already on your phone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still lean into the Bridgerton vibe. Since pretty much everyone in the show is a millennial, that means the Bridgerton cast posts thirst traps for validation just like the rest of us. Reap the benefits of their shirtless pics, beach photos, and overtly sexual selfies.
No, it’s not the same as like, seeing their characters strip down and bang it out in a canopy bed, but the writers of the show didn’t confer with me when creating the script, so we gotta do what we gotta do. And what we gotta do is follow the cast and add all of their vacation pictures to the “💦” folder on our phones.
4. Write/Read Some Fan Fiction
Nope, fanfic isn’t just reserved for vampires and Harry Styles! There’s fanfiction of literally everything out there, including Bridgerton. Since the characters’ very slow burn isn’t exactly cutting it for you or your libido, take matters into your own hands—or er, keyboard. Maybe Kate, Anthony, and Siena (Anthony’s ex from season 1) have an epic threesome full of untied corsets and verbal jabs. Or perhaps the Viscount and Ms. Sharma turn up their obviously flirty attacks by indulging in a little BDSM. Come on—Kate as a dominatrix is content you’d be viscerally obligated to watch.
So go on, write your own sex scenes since Netflix decided to hang us out to dry. And if your creative juices—much like your vaginal ones—aren’t quite flowing, there’s plenty of Bridgerton fanfic already written out there that you can read instead. Why do the work when someone else already did it for you, ya feel?
5. Listen To The Season 2 Soundtrack While Watching Season 1 On Mute
Watching season 2 of Bridgerton was good for two things: Fans of the book who were eager for a sexless, slow season, and string renditions of throwback hits and modern jams. While season 2 clearly lacks that in-your-face-sex almost all of us tuned in to see, what it does have is a solid soundtrack. We’re talking Nirvana, Madonna, Rihanna, and Miley—just to name a few. Since season 2’s music was better than season 1’s offerings (just barely though), why not combine the two for a viewing worthy of your attention?
So, go on. Blast the season 2 soundtrack while watching the entire first season on mute. You already know the premise of the story, and seeing Simon and Daphne hook up on their honeymoon to “Wrecking Ball” is better than anything you’ll see in the newest installment of the show. Bible.
6. Name Your Vibrator After Your Fave Character
If you’re bummed that your favorite character didn’t get laid enough in Season 2, whip out your favorite sex toy and give it a rebrand. Try taping a picture of your Bridgerton crush (*cough* Siena *cough*) on the buzzy part of your vibrator and imagine them as season 2 plays in the background. If you squint at the screen, you’ll still get the costumes and the wigs, but this way you can sort of pretend something exciting is happening, it’s just simply too fuzzy to make out.
If you find yourself wanting to scream in either ecstasy over the vibrations or in anger over the fact that there’s only one sex scene to enjoy, simply shove a spoon in your mouth! It’s hot, it’s a fun season 1 throwback, and it’ll keep your roommates/partner/parents from hearing you and encouraging you to up your therapy frequency for taking your Bridgerton season 2 disappointment a little too far.
7. Shoot Your Shot Via DM
Hear me out: Stranger things have happened! Celebs get together with common folk all the time because hi, we’re cool and chill and aren’t going to hook up with our movie co-stars when we jet off to a tropical location for work. Since season 2 didn’t provide you with the sexual material you deserve, make it happen for yourself IRL.
While the chances of any Bridgerton stars responding to (or reading) your thirsty DMs are pretty much zero, you might as well try. At worst, you’ll end up with a restraining order. But this way you’ll probably get their autograph (people sign restraining orders, right?), and they’ll know how pissed you were about the lack of sexy season 2 content. And at best, you’ll get laid by a Bridgerton cast member who didn’t take their shirt off nearly enough. Honestly, there are no downsides.
8. Write a Strongly Worded Letter to Netflix
Ah, complaining. Few things give us as much of a rush as chewing someone TF out for something minor, like having a different creative vision for a show. But since the writers of Bridgerton decided to take the vibe of season 2 in a totally different direction, why not write them a little something of your own? Round up all the receipts of the cast members saying there’d be plenty of sex in season 2, get 200 of your closest Facebook friends—including your eclectic aunt Shirley—to sign it, and demand Shondaland reinstate the old Bridgerton vibe for season 3.
Yes, it’s pervy and pointless. But that pretty much describes all of our hobbies anyway. It might not change the fact that you wasted eight hours of your life for a few minutes of season 2 sex, but one voice can make a difference. One voice can ensure season 3 involves a little more butt action and a little less back-and-forth banter. A hero? No, you’re just out here being the Lady Whistledown of our generation and for that, we thank you.
Images: Liam Daniel / Netflix