How 'Bridgerton' Season Two Told a Different Love Story – The … – Hollywood Reporter

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Showrunner Chris Van Dusen with stars Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran speak to The Hollywood Reporter about the enemies-to-lovers storyline and being intentionally inclusive with the hit Netflix series.
By Christy Piña
Associate Editor
[This story contains major spoilers for the second season of Netflix’s Bridgerton.]
Dearest gentle readers, season two of Bridgerton is finally on Netflix and its love story is one for the ages: an enemies-to-lovers tale that follows Viscount Anthony Bridgerton’s (Jonathan Bailey) quest for a viscountess.

At the beginning of season two, the eldest Bridgerton is looking for an agreeable woman who will be a good mother and watch after the house, as he believes a wife should. What he’s not looking for is a true love match.
But, by the season finale, that’s exactly what he finds.

The second season of the hit Netflix series kicks off with the arrival of the Sharma sisters, Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina (Charithra Chandran), coming to Mayfair in search of a husband for the latter. When Edwina is declared “the diamond” of the season, as Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) was in season one, Anthony knows whom he wants to marry — if only her sister approved of their union.

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Kate knows Anthony isn’t looking for love, and she wants better for the younger sister she’s looked after all of her life. So, she spends most of the season fighting Anthony off and pushing Edwina toward other suitors who will give her the love Kate feels she deserves. Over the course of the eight episodes, Kate and Anthony are at each other’s throats — bickering, bantering and yet drawn toward each other despite their seeming disdain.
Their courtship, which is based on the second book in Julia Quinn’s best-selling series, delivers a markedly different will they-won’t they love story compared to the fiery romance between Daphne and the departed Regé-Jean Page‘s Duke Simon Basset that launched the series into bingeworthy breakout status over Christmas in 2020. (When Daphne returns to the family home, she explains that she left her husband and newborn behind to help sister Eloise with her social debut.)

“This season, one of the big tropes that we’re following is enemies to lovers, and that’s one of my favorite tropes of this genre,” showrunner Chris Van Dusen tells The Hollywood Reporter of his approach to the follow-up run. “I think that’s because there’s just so much conflict to mine between Anthony and Kate, and they have this banter that is just so much fun to watch, and Jonathan and Simone are so good at it.”
Van Dusen sees Kate and Anthony as magnets — polar opposites, who are drawn to each other in a way that’s out of their control.
“You watch them go toe-to-toe throughout the season,” he says. “The frustration you feel between the two of them, it builds from episode to episode, scene to scene, really, and it’s palpable.”
Contrary to season one where Daphne and Simon cave to their desire for each other relatively early on, it isn’t until the final moments of episode six in the eight-episode second season — mere minutes after Edwina calls off her and Anthony’s wedding — that Kate and the viscount finally give in to their longing for one another. Leading up to that moment, there were several scenes where the two were within seconds of kissing, each time getting interrupted by someone or something.
“The chemistry that you see and feel between Jonathan and Simone as Anthony and Kate is just out of this world,” Van Dusen says. “So, it was incredibly dynamic and exciting, having those steamy scenes and all that angst and all that yearning and watching their chemistry build and build really makes the payoff worth it when we get there.”

While the slow-burn approach also meant season two would not have a sex marathon scored to Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams,” Kate and Anthony burned for each other in their own way and bucked societal norms of the time by being intimate before they were married.
Intimacy coordinator Lizzy Talbot, returning from season one, worked with the cast and crew to ensure everyone felt comfortable and safe in their sex scenes.
“We couldn’t have done it without her,” Ashley tells THR. “She made sure we were safe. She made sure we were comfortable and confident, that we felt heard, that there was an easy window of communication.”
Before they filmed any of their intimate scenes, Ashley says she and Bailey Zoomed with episode director Cheryl Dunye, Van Dusen and Talbot to break it down shot by shot, so everyone knew exactly what was going to happen when they were filming.
“There were zero surprises, and then we could just focus on bringing the love story to life,” Ashley says. “I felt very, very comfortable.”
Van Dusen says the sex scenes were heavily choreographed and rehearsed like a stunt well in advance. He would also sit down with Talbot and the director to figure out what they wanted to get from the scene and how it contributed to the bigger story.

“We never do a sex scene for the sake of doing the sex scene, and we never will,” he says. “All the intimate scenes, they have a larger purpose. They’re all telling a story and they’re all pushing the story forward.”
When Bridgerton first hit Netflix, it shattered the idea many people had of Regency period pieces, where white people have often been front and center and a person of color could be seen only occasionally, often in the background. In a previous guest column for THR, Van Dusen shared that, from the get-go, he wanted to create a series that was intentionally inclusive, turning the period genre on its head and reimagining it.
“I don’t consider Bridgerton a color-blind show,” he says. “It’s not a color-blind world. Race and color are very much a part of the world and a part of the show’s conversation, just like things like status and class and gender and sexuality are, and I think that’s part of what makes Bridgerton, Bridgerton.”
Season two continues Van Dusen’s plan to make Regency London as diverse as the world is today by centering two dark-skinned Indian women as lead characters in a way that has rarely been seen in American television.
“I hope that this normalizes that kind of casting more-so,” Ashley says. “I think everyone’s going to love that side of it. I’m excited to show the story of a dark-skinned woman falling in love with all the scandal and drama and, you know, the hotness in themes, for a better word. I think it’s time.”
Chandran, who stars opposite Ashley as younger sister Edwina, found it “unbelievably exciting” that she and Ashley, who are from the same part of India, are now the romantic leads.
“You seldom see dark-skinned Indian women as the romantic interest and the lead that Simone plays or the diamond that I play,” Chandran tells THR. “I hope that it makes girls who look like us feel more comfortable in their skin — feel like they belong.”
The second season of Bridgerton is now streaming on Netflix.
Sydney Odman contributed to this story.
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