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Season two of Bridgerton is underwhelming.

Season two of “Bridgerton” is rem­i­niscent of a French macaron: light, airy, and aes­thet­i­cally pleasing, but ulti­mately unsat­is­factory and lacking substance. 

His­tor­i­cally inac­curate and frus­trat­ingly pre­dictable, Netflix’s hit period-drama “Bridgerton” still pro­vides an escape from the mun­danity of 21st-century-life, if you can prepare yourself for the series’ silliness and mindlessness.

With oldest Bridgerton daughter Daphne’s love match secured in season one, the second season focuses on Lord Anthony Bridgerton, the oldest Bridgerton son. Anthony is largely unlikeable in the first season: he flaunts his mis­tresses, dom­i­neers over his family, and taunts Daphne with dis­agreeable yet advan­ta­geous suitors. 

This is the mar­riage season when Anthony must fulfill his duty and find a wife. His only problem? The queen has yet to declare the season’s “Diamond:” the most beau­tiful, accom­plished, desired bride-to-be. Anthony must have the “Diamond” because he deserves the best; he is, after all, a Bridgerton. And love? Unim­portant to Lord Bridgerton. No, all he requires is an accom­plished young woman of superior social standing and family back­ground who is intel­ligent, dutiful, and able to give him heirs to secure his estate. 

“I’m looking for per­fection, Mother,” Anthony tells Lady Violet at a ball. To Anthony, mar­riage is a duty that he must fulfill, and he’ll be content if he gets a young woman who can have an intel­ligent con­ver­sation and properly fulfill the role of Vis­countess Bridgerton.

Throughout the season, however, Lady Violet and Duchess Daphne remind Anthony that a mar­riage should be some­thing more: it should be the com­bining of two lives into one, the syn­chro­nization of two hearts into one shared heartbeat.

This advice is touching yet con­tra­dictory to the show’s overall message, given that the show’s nar­rator, Lady Whis­tledown, later down­plays mar­riage as “little more than a human ritual.” With this and other char­acters remarking that one should be free to “choose the love you want, [and] choose the family you want,” the pro­ducers seem to be making a jab at the fun­da­men­tally reli­gious nature of mar­riage and awk­wardly intro­ducing today’s P.C. lan­guage into the 19th-century British peerage. 

When Anthony finally meets his “Diamond,” he wastes no time in claiming her as his own. Miss Edwina Sharma is every­thing the title implies and more: she is well-edu­cated, bright, and sweetly naive. But, as expected, Anthony cannot keep his eyes off of Edwina’s older sister, Kate. Similar to Anthony, Kate is pro­tective and cynical and is his match in intel­li­gence and stub­bornness. At first, Kate and Anthony take an almost instant dislike to each other, sparked out of their similar com­pet­itive natures and fierce indi­vid­u­ality, but it soon becomes evident that it is Kate, and not Edwina, who has secured Anthony’s affections.

This enemies-to-lovers trope is painfully pre­dictable and obvious from Kate and Anthony’s first scene together. Before the audience knows it, Kate and Anthony are spending every spare moment alone together, which his­tor­i­cally would have been most improper and forbidden. 

Even though we know Kate and Anthony are going to end up together in the end, this whirlwind romance leaves us without much char­acter devel­opment for Kate and a love story that feels stunted and shallow.

What is most dan­gerous about “Bridgerton” season two is its def­i­n­ition of love. True love doesn’t equate to passion or exas­per­ation as Kate and Anthony’s story would make us think. It’s more like what Edwina wants: equality in mind and united in vision and values, for the bet­terment of them both. 

Edwina is actually the most intriguing char­acter of season two, and it’s a shame that she’s deceived and treated with con­de­scension by Kate and Anthony. She expe­ri­ences the most char­acter devel­opment, trans­forming from a naive, starry-eyed girl to a mature, con­fident woman who knows what she wants and refuses to settle for less. 

“Bridgerton” would have us believe, con­trary to the adage, that oppo­sites do not in fact always attract. The series pro­vides very little evi­dence for us to base this argument on and presents it in a less than per­suasive manner, but it’s a nice idea. The success of “Bridgerton” has little to do with the his­torical accuracy and more with the culture’s longing for a love that is more refined, more inten­tional, and filled with chivalry and honor (hence the new Bridgerton-inspired Bach­e­lorette reality TV show “The Courtship”). “Bridgerton” cer­tainly doesn’t give us that, but it does give us a peek into the flaws and strengths of both the 19th and 21st centuries. 

Ulti­mately, I liked season two; in some ways, more so than season one. There’s little lan­guage, it’s cleaner than the first season, the cos­tumes and scenery are gor­geous, and if you can stomach a sound­track of modern pop songs dis­guised as clas­sical waltzes — sure Netflix, we totally didn’t notice you using “Dancing on my Own” for Anthony and Kate’s dance — you might enjoy it. Just don’t expect either season of “Bridgerton” to be a his­tor­i­cally accurate, family-friendly, heart­warming Regency period drama.