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A second series of Bridgerton has officially been announced - hardly surprising, since the period romp has been a major hit for Netflix, projected to be watched by more than 63 million households within 28 days of its debut on Christmas Day 2020. It’s become a cultural talking point - albeit not always a positive one - and has even inspired a TikTok musical.
So, what can we expect from the next instalment of this Regency London-set drama? One thing we know for certain is that series two will focus on Anthony Bridgerton, eldest child of the eponymous clan, and so will likely draw on The Viscount Who Loved Me - the second novel in American author Julia Quinn’s popular series.
In the book, the renowned rake Anthony enters the 1814 season determined to reform and find a suitable wife. But the path to his intended, new ‘diamond of the season’ Edwina Sheffield, is blocked by her protective, outspoken older sister, Kate, and the pair soon come into spirited conflict. Anyone who has ever seen a romcom can guess the rest...
It will put the spotlight on actor Jonathan Bailey, who plays Anthony, and there’s already fevered speculation from fans about who will be cast as Kate - with suggestions including Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones, Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson, Reign actress Adelaide Kane, The Witcher’s Anya Chalotra, and The Spanish Princess star Sai Bennett.
And there’s a load of Bridgerton backstory to unpack, centred on the late, great patriarch Edmund, who died of an allergic reaction to a bee sting (how My Girl of him). That meant Anthony had to take over the viscounty at a young age, and left him with serious trauma and daddy issues to address.
However, the new series likely won’t just feature Anthony’s story. Although series one focussed mainly on the romance between Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke, it also drew on the other books in the series and made space for numerous subplots - including the rise of the mysterious, scandal-mongering gossip columnist Lady Whistledown.
In the finale (spoiler alert) we learned that Whistledown is actually put-upon socialite Penelope Featherington. Complicating matters is the fact that her best friend, Eloise Bridgerton, is on a mission from Queen Charlotte to unmask Whistledown - even though Eloise admires the writer as a powerful, independent woman, and wishes she could follow suit instead of facing her first season on the marriage market.
In the books, the race to reveal Whistledown hots up once Lady Danbury offers a monetary reward for her identity. We’ll likely get plenty more of this twisty plot, along with waspish commentary from Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), and perhaps some flashbacks showing how Penelope has maintained the ruse all this time.
We might also visit the now happily married Daphne and the Duke - presumably popping out more children, attending spurious boxing matches, or having more steamy, exhibitionist, but let’s hope consensual sex.
And what about poor pregnant Marina Thompson, married off to her dead lover’s brother? There’s a tragic continuation to her story in the novels, with a depressed Marina attempting to take her own life by walking into a lake in the middle of winter. However, the series has already diverged from the source material hugely in its portrayal of Marina, so perhaps she will be granted a happier fate - on or off screen.
Then there’s aspiring painter Benedict Bridgerton, who was pursuing an affair with pretend-French modiste Genevieve Delacroix, as well as attending bohemian orgies at the home of artist Henry Granville. In the books, Benedict next falls for the bastard daughter of an earl who becomes a maid. But, following some teasing scenes where Benedict seems attracted to Granville, Netflix viewers have been clamoring for him to pursue a gay relationship instead. Given that producer Shonda Rhimes has a strong track record of LGBTQ+ representation, it’s a definite possibility.
On the Featherington side of the action, we finished series one on a big cliffhanger. Gambling addict Lord Featherington, who scored big after fixing a boxing match, has apparently been murdered by vengeful bookies, and his winnings have disappeared. Worse yet for Polly Walker’s Lady Featherington: the estate has now been inherited by someone outside the family. Who is it, and will it mean more drama for this perennially unlucky bunch? (Of course it will.)
We might venture further afield, too, since Colin Bridgerton - briefly engaged to Marina; secretly adored by Penelope - is off on his grand tour of Europe. At a time when most of us can only dream of leaving our own houses or neighbourhoods, let alone swanning around Paris, it might provide some welcome vicarious vacationing. An added bonus to this escapist watch.