Review: “Bridgerton” depicts South Asian culture in season two

“Bridgerton” season one broke stereotypes and any ethnicity/race barriers with its notable casting of Black actors representing aristocratic roles in the regency era of London. The second season didn’t fall short in this category either. 

Netflix released the second season of “Bridgerton” on Friday with eight episodes. The series, directed by Chris Van Dusen, is an adaptation of Julia Quinn's novels and focuses on the aristocratic family, “Bridgerton,” in regency era England and tells the stories of the eight siblings, each season focusing on each sibling.  

Dusen confirmed there will be a third and fourth season releasing in upcoming years.

Season two plots the romance between Viscount Anthony Bridgerton, played by Jonathan Bailey, and Kate Sharma, played by Simone Ashley.  

With the wistful crafting of the plotline, Dusen, successfully curates his artistic freedom by bringing South Asian representation to the lead characters making the Sharma family Bengali from India.

There are short and intimate yet powerful shots representing South Asian customs like the older sister oiling their younger sibling’s hair, showing the Indian prewedding tradition of putting turmeric on the bride called Haldi. Clothing choices where Sharma is wrapped in Pashmina textiles and wearing Indian jewelry builds a strong representation that was lacking in the Hollywood industry.

These seemingly small scenes made millions of South Asians living in a Western society like myself feel seen and heard, validating us as these intimate and unique cultural customs are meant to be celebrated and taken pride of rather than be hidden and forgotten.  

The series also carefully uses endearing ethnic titles like “Appa” and “Amma” for father and mother. We also see Edwina, the younger Sharma sister, calling her older sister “Didi” and Kate calling Edwina, “Bon,” younger sister in Bengali.

Personally, hearing these titles instead of mom and dad authenticated the background of these characters further ingraining the sense of pride for Desi audiences that come near accurate representation. 

Moreover, the show depicts the hardships that can come with being part of the South Asian community. The show portrayed the disparities of being the eldest daughter in immigrant households, detailing how head-of-household duties often fall on them in the absence of a parent. 

Kate is made to feel the unspoken burden to take care of her family and set them a comfortable future before she lives her own life. We see this throughout the entire season where Kate puts her wants, desires and needs aside to that of her family’s and secure a comfortable future for them. 

When compared to the first season, the second fails to exhibit the graphic, steamy, sexual interactions between the main characters. However, it is second to none when it comes to the sexual tension, slow-burn romance and the unwavering connection between the leads Kate Sharma and Viscount Bridgerton. 

Any hate felt toward the Viscount and his misogynistic attitudes in season one were successfully eliminated by showcasing his reasoning behind them, making audiences fall in love with Anthony over and over again.

I ended up comparing certain scenes to Pride and Prejudice’s Darcy. Anthony gains a respectable comparison and amiability as the audience hopes his character develops into a lovable and loving one like Darcy’s character.

The show was also a cinematic masterpiece with its background scores being the orchestral versions of modern pop music like Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” Madonna’s “Material Girl” and Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.”  

The only downside I felt was the show moved slowly, and certain scenes felt repetitive in the motives behind the scenes. Toward the end, episodes started to feel rushed and had a lot of plot twists happening in a limited time, not giving the audience enough time to process the details.

There were also ample scenes dedicated to the Featherington family, especially now that audiences know Lady Whistledown is Penelope Featherington. I found this to be unnecessary and felt myself wanting to skip to scenes with the Sharmas and Bridgertons.

Overall, I believe it was a good season as the production crew lived up to the anticipated representation of Desi characters and the Viscount’s love life. 

If the show’s attention to detail with the elaborate dresses, beautiful sceneries and period English and Indian accents are not enough to watch “Bridgerton,” the orchestral versions of our favorite pop songs should be.

@ayeshahshaji

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

 

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