It’s not perfect, mainly around that one questionably consensual encounter between Daphne and Simon, but Bridgerton season one is very entertaining and imminently re-watchable. Season two, however, decided to provoke unnecessary drama between Anthony, Kate, and her younger sister, Edwina, which makes parts of the season unwatchable.
The Viscount Who Loved Me is one of my favorite novels of all time, a classic rainy/snowy day read, yet Bridgerton pushed the love triangle—which in the book is played for comedy as Edwina low-key tries to throw her sister and suitor together—into such melodramatic territory it makes Anthony and Kate actually unlikeable for a minute. Don’t get me wrong, I love “you are the bane of my existence” as much as anyone, but like…why did Anthony try to go through with the marriage?! It’s just a rom-com, dammit!
All this is to say, the sneak peek for Bridgerton season three is here (part one premieres on May 16, and part two follows on June 13). I am…sort of ambivalent? We’re tossing book order out the window to get fan-favorite Colin and Penelope’s love story more quickly, because I doubt Bridgerton makes it to the full eight seasons, and it seems the showrunners have that same feeling. In the books, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton is last, set some ten years after the events of Daphne and Simon’s courtship in The Duke and I. Penelope is a spinster, in the parlance of the day, but she’s grown into her confidence and her secret role as Lady Whistledown. Colin, meanwhile, has done his own growing up, has traveled the world and returned to London to re-meet his childhood friend with new, more mature—and appreciative—eyes.
It's still a romantic comedy with plenty of misunderstandings and capers, but the cornerstone of Romancing Mr. Bridgerton is the idea of these two characters growing up, Penelope shaking her shyness and Colin finding himself before returning home, ready to settle down and be someone Penelope deserves. It’s a story about timing and be ready for “the one” as much as it is a rom-com. But with the show, we’re jumping straight from Kate and Anthony’s story to Colin and Penelope. Presumably, some time has passed, though to look at Colin and Pen in the sneak peek, you certainly can’t tell. They don’t in any way look older, wiser, or more mature.
I wouldn’t mind the adjustment so much if I trusted the folks behind Bridgerton with such off-book changes, but after season two I…don’t. In and of itself, the teaser is cute, Colin looks appropriately knocked over the head by Pen being herself, he is the Bridgertons’ resident himbo and Pen’s trophy husband, there is something very Colin about the look on Luke Newton’s face as he stares at Penelope. And, of course, I love Nicola Coughlan. I’m going to watch this just for her, even if I no longer quite trust in Bridgerton to deliver the goods.