The second season of Bridgerton is illuminated by excruciating chemistry and longing stares—but its nuanced depiction of Kate Sharma sets the screen on fire.
As soon as Kate Sharma entered the ton, it was clear Anthony Bridgerton had met his match. Played by Sex Education’s Simone Ashley, Kate is a woman with such fortitude and self-assuredness, a woman equally as stubborn and set in her ways. There was no choice but for Anthony to be captivated by her.
Kate’s characterization works because her wisdom and wit mirror her physical beauty, and her internal struggle is one many older siblings in immigrant households can relate to.
It’s also unheard of, both in Western media and in mainstream Bollywood, to see a dark-skinned Tamil actress playing a fiery, intellectual, and seductive love interest with such finesse. I was shocked when I heard Anthony’s love interest would be a brown girl and even more taken aback that the upcoming season would center around the Sharma family.
The Sharmas felt like an illusion to me—an image of intricate desi excellence I’d never seen before on screen. Throughout the season I was in awe of show creator Shonda Rhimes’s depiction of three unique South Asian women, each with their unique voice and agency, bound together by loyalty and devotion.
Bridgerton is rooted in the unwavering power of true love, but this season’s depiction of romance is intertwined with rich cultural significance and authentic representation.
Kate isn’t defined by her South Asian heritage, nor is she tokenized or fetishized because of it. Anthony is enthralled by her being—by the very core of her identity, which aggravates him and compels him to bend.
In all honesty, there were moments of the show that made me tear up. Kate oiling Edwina’s hair. Edwina calling Kate “didi”. Kate making chai with elaichi. The Sharma women laughing during the Haldi ceremony.
These small instances of cultural admiration were sprinkled in beautifully. They were the subtle scent of rose essence and the sound of bangles dancing, with no reductive narrative in sight. Bridgerton is a vision of what representation can and should look like, and there are no words to describe the experience of finally feeling seen as a brown woman watching the show.
In terms of plot and content, the second season didn’t disappoint. In fact, it raised the bar for romance lovers everywhere.
For anyone who thought the Duke of Hastings was attractive last season, you have no idea what you’re in for with the eldest Bridgerton. From hand clenches to heavy breathing, Anthony is the physical embodiment of the female gaze, and audiences are finally able to understand his rigidity and sense of duty to his family through flashbacks with his father.
He struggles to maintain his composure around the eldest Sharma sister, and his almost uncontrollable lust radiates off the screen. I genuinely believed he was consumed by his maddening attraction to Kate, and each romantic interaction between them was filled with such intensity that I needed to catch my own breath.
The electric energy between the season’s leads is undeniable. Though the second season is far less steamy than the first with only a minute-long glimpse into the intimacy between them, the slow burn is well worth the wait.
I found myself skipping past any scene with the Featheringtons to watch the almost-kisses between Anthony and Kate. The two are on the verge of submitting to their feelings in every moment alone, and we audience members are desperately waiting for their strands of honour to snap.
As their passion grows, Anthony eloquently and breathlessly reveals the depths of his longing to his love interest. In a heated instance, he reveals, “You are the bane of my existence and the object of all my desires.” The Duke’s proclamation of love in the prior season clearly has nothing on Anthony.
Simmered in all the gossip and luxury of the Regency era, this season of Bridgerton is a must-watch—despite having a fraction of the sex and seduction of the first season.
Kate is the fiery love interest Anthony desperately needed, but her power feels even more palpable because of her culture. I have no idea how the next season of Bridgerton will top this triumph, but I’m hoping for as much ‘Kanthony’ content as possible—along with the romance between Edwina and Prince Friedrich we all deserve to see.
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