In 'Bridgerton' Season 2, Enemies Become Very Sexy Lovers

The Netflix series' new season is wayyy steamier than the first.

bridgerton season 2
Liam Daniel/Netflix

If you ask anyone who's watched to tell you one thing about Bridgerton, nine times out of ten their response will be, "It's hot." And it is hot. It's horny. It's sexy. It's a Netflix TV series whose main characters are teens and twentysomethings living in an era of famously convoluted courtship rituals, which doesn't have to tone down its sexual content to appease the ratings czars of the major television networks. Its fanbase, even if they haven't read Julia Quinn's book series, are more than familiar with the heaving bosoms and clenched jaws of the Austen-Brontë era of romantic fiction, and the societal constraints of the time that only added to the barely suppressed wanton energies of their protagonists.

That's where Bridgerton Season 2 finds big brother Anthony (the smoldering Jonathan Bailey), the eldest sibling of the Bridgerton household, determined to find himself a worthy bride after his sister Daphne's roaring success with the Duke of Hastings last season. (Regé-Jean Page made it loud and clear that he would not be returning as the Duke this season, though Daphne makes a few appearances.) He travels around with a laundry list of desirable attributes, and shockingly none of the girls making their debuts fit every single one of his requirements—except for Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran), new to the ton along with her mother Mary (Shelley Conn) and elder sister Kate (Simone Ashley). The Queen chooses Edwina as her diamond for the season, and the Sharmas are inundated with eager young men intent on meeting and romancing the young ingenue. 

Kate, on the other hand, is content not to marry, but instead to spend all her energy on finding Edwina a suitable husband. Kate is already in her late twenties, practically a wizened crone. After she overhears Anthony bragging to his boys about how he's shopping around for a wife as if he's at the stables buying a horse, Kate is determined not to let Anthony within earshot of Edwina. What Anthony doesn't mention is that he's still smarting from his doomed romance with the opera singer from last season, so marrying based on logic rather than love looks pretty good to him right now. He's determined to marry the diamond, seeing in the soft-spoken Edwina the perfect wife to take up the mantle of managing the estate as the new Lady Bridgerton (how he'd know that after a couple of chaperoned teas is anyone's guess), and as he draws Edwina further into his affections he and Kate pace in angry circles around each other at every social gathering they find themselves invited to. 

bridgerton season 2 kate anthony edwina
Liam Daniel/Netflix

You know how this story goes. We all know. Hatred is a strong emotion, and by and by both Kate and Anthony find their feelings for each other shifting in a slightly warmer direction. The "enemies-to-lovers" trope has been around for ages, and has gained an actual term in recent years thanks to fanfiction, naturally. We've seen it before: Han Solo and Princess Leia in Star Wars, Buffy and Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Will Graham and Hannibal in Hannibal (just let me have this okay), Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, obviously. Two people who just can't stand each other, can't even be around each other, can't stop trading cruel insults whenever they see each other eventually just have to have some sex about it.

Where the first season of the show was compelling because it's groundbreaking in so many ways—adding sexual physicality to a famously buttoned-up era and offering a multiracial version of the time period thanks to treating historic speculation about the real Queen Charlotte's race as text—its romance between two beautiful people who have the hots for each other pales in comparison to the barbed sexual tension between Season 2's leads, who stalk each other like two wild predators in every scene. Anthony constantly smells Kate, which sounds weird in writing but is very hot in the show. They chase each other on horseback multiple times. There's a sexy deer hunt AND a sexy croquet match. There's a dramatic bee sting scene that refers to a much darker and weirder plot of the book, in which the two are entrapped into marriage after Anthony is caught trying to suck bee poison out of Kate's cleavage, wow!! I have not read the books because I genuinely didn't expect to get this invested in a Regency-era bodice-ripper streaming series, more fool me!

Elsewhere, the plots introduced in the first season are explored further: Penelope Featherington (a fantastic Nicola Coughlan) is still trying to make sure no one finds out she's actually [SPOILER] while still mooning after Colin Bridgerton, a DOLT who needs to go BACK TO GREECE; the Featheringtons, on the precipice of financial ruin, are dealing with the return of a distant cousin who plans to take over the estate to finance his gem mining operations in America; a boy explains feminism (???) to Eloise Bridgerton, who will probably invent the women's suffrage movement; and the Queen is hot on the trail of who she thinks is the pamphlet-flinging Lady Whistledown, the gossipmonger who never fails to unearth the deepest secrets of a bunch of aristocrats so rich and bored their only pastime is making each other's lives miserable. Never a dull moment! 

The core of the story is, as always, the sweeping romance that dominates the show, and Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey are more than up to the task of leading a story with even more twists and turns than the previous season, trading barbs and barely hidden smoldering looks with ease as various plot contrivances bring them inevitably closer together. You'll never look at a bee sting the same way ever again. 

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Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.