Content Warning: Spoilers for the Netflix TV show “Bridgerton,” as well as for the Bridgerton book series by Julia Quinn. Readers should be aware that there is some upsetting and mature content within the book series, which is well-explained in this post by the Silver Petticoat Review. The same goes for the TV show. I do not recommend watching it with your family unless you live for awkward silences.
It will come as a shock to absolutely no one that I am a massive fan of the beautiful and imperfect series, “Bridgerton.” I think the show is like a glimmering fantasy version of what life could have been like in the early 1800s if you were to remove most of the unpleasantness from that time and leave only pretty dresses and romantic drama.
It’s awesome and very fun, and once the third season debuts, most likely sometime in mid-2023, I plan on clearing my calendar to watch the spectacle. From what I’ve read online, season 3 will focus on the romance between the characters Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington. In Julia Quinn‘s original series, Colin Bridgerton and Penelope eventually get together, but not until the fourth book, “Romancing Mr. Bridgerton.” By that point in the literary timeline, Colin is a well-seasoned traveler who lacks purpose in life, and sweet Penelope Featherington is a lonely, decrepit spinster at the ancient age of 28.
The choice to focus on Colin and Penelope’s love story earlier in the timeline removes that spinsterhood storyline. I have mixed feelings about this. I understand why Netflix made this decision, as the writers chose to age Kate Sharma to 26 (in the books, I believe she was only 21), which would have made her a spinster. Two spinster storylines in a row may have felt redundant. However, I personally really like stories that feature older women finding love. There’s a reason I’ve watched “Persuasion” as many times as I have.
Netflix has decided on the direction of season 3, and I will try to trust them and enjoy the journey. However, I want to be honest and say that the show has made some choices I don’t support (like that horrible scene in the first season between Daphne and Simon). I think it is okay that the show deviates from the books, but the writers need to be prudent about what content stays and what goes.
Knowing what I know now about the third season of Bridgerton, I’ve put together a list of what I hope to see and what I really, really don’t.
1. Edwina’s Romance with the Prince
Poor Edwina. Our girl fell hard and fast for Anthony, the cute, rich Viscount, and was so certain she was walking into a fairytale romance. Then she realized Anthony had eyes for her sister Kate and called off the wedding. For those wondering, this event never came close to happening in “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” and I wasn’t crazy about the change. I didn’t want to see Edwina’s heart get broken!
Edwina, I’m sorry your relationship with the Viscount was not meant to be, but I think getting introduced to a handsome young prince may compensate for that. And considering that he was let down by Daphne in season 1, the Prince does have some things in common with her, like how much the Bridgertons can suck sometimes.
Just think how dope season 3 would be if it began with the wedding between Edwina and the Prince. Once again, Edwina can walk down the aisle to marry a man who’s actually into her. And if that man happened to be a cute prince? It would be magical! Give us the royal wedding we deserve, Netflix!
2. Married Kanthony
So much of their relationship in season 2 was “I want to rip your clothes off, but we mustn’t!”
The tension between Anthony and Kate was built so incredibly that some viewers weren’t even concerned that season 2 wasn’t the bang-fest of the previous season. Instead, their relationship was passionate and full of yearning, even without touching, that just watching the two exist in the same room was enough.
But this is season 3, and now they’re finally together, and I need more. I want to see what Kate and Anthony’s married life is like! Do they fight over dumb stuff, like what kinds of teas are best or if Newton can go on the furniture? Will Anthony visit India? Will Kate’s lack of aristocratic connections become a problem for the two?
I’d like to see this last question get explored at length. It could be fascinating to see how the rest of the ton reacts to Anthony marrying the daughter of a clerk.
3. Benedict and Sophie’s Ball
For those unaware, the third Bridgerton book in the series is “An Offer from a Gentleman.” It’s about Benedict Bridgerton and his love for Sophie, the illegitimate daughter of an earl. Sophie’s cruel stepmother forced Sophie to become a servant in her household, and she only meets Benedict when she disguises herself to attend a masquerade ball. So naturally, they fall madly in love, but Sophie’s illegitimacy gets in the way of them marrying, which provides most of the conflict in the story.
Season 3 of Bridgerton will focus on Penelope and Colin, so I don’t expect Benedict’s story to be front and center. However, I still want his story. I think what would work is if Benedict meets a mysterious woman at a party at the beginning or midway through the season and then spends the rest of the season looking for her. Tragically, Benedict will be unable to find her, and by the end of the season, he will have given up hope of ever seeing her again. And just in those last few moments, we’ll see Sophie, our mystery woman, working as a scullery maid. Maybe for the Featherington’s? That would be dramatic!
4. Francesca’s courtship and possible wedding to John Sterling
Francesca’s story is quite sad. Quiet, normal Francesca marries a man she loves, but he passes away sometime later before they can start a family. Thus begins the main events of “When He Was Wicked.” She’s devastated but later finds love again, specifically with her John’s cousin, Michael Stirling. It’s all very complicated and appropriately saturated with angst. I didn’t love this story, and I thought Michael was kind of a jerk, but I think it would be nice to see Francesa meet John Sterling and fall in love.
In fact, I think her story should be used as an example of a proper British wedding (aka no sneaking off to smooch in balconies and no “we must rush the wedding or risk a scandal” or some crap like that). Just like a normal courtship and eventual marriage. Does that sound boring? Yes, it is. It would be extremely boring and relegated to a B plot, but it could showcase the ideal regency marriage.
When every relationship on your show reeks of passion and intrigue and breaking boundaries for your One True Love, it’s much less special. Francesca’s first marriage could be the perfect example of what makes those other relationships unique. I think her televised courtship could be the TV version bread and butter. Most of the time, you may want to eat something more interesting, like a burrito or a spicy curry, but sometimes, good bread and butter is where it’s at. Let Francesca be this season’s bread and butter, and then when it’s her to turn to fall in love with Michael, it can be more of a bread and fancy olive oil story. My metaphor may be falling apart here, but I think you know what I mean.
5. Simon Cameo
I don’t care much if the Duke returns to Bridgerton, but it does feel a little weird if Daphne is fully present and Simon can’t even show up for a wedding. I know that Regé-Jean Page is doing his own thing and has even given Netflix the go-ahead to recast the role, but I think it would be nice if he made a brief appearance as a respectful nod to the creators of the show and to the fans who loved his performance so dearly.
6. Don’t pit sisters against each other
I can feel sorry that Edwina’s romantic hopes were crushed while also spitting another truth: her self-pitying and resulting anger towards Kate quickly became insufferable. Edwina, can I level with you? Your older sister sacrificed so much to try and give you a better life rich with opportunities. Opportunities that you were more than happy to take advantage of. I realize you’re bummed about your wedding, but your sister wasn’t trying to steal your man. On the contrary, she was literally going to leave the country so that you two could be happy. So maybe chill on the “you’re a lying liar who LIES” garbage.
I’m glad Edwina finally stopped being so spiteful, even if it took Kate almost dying for her to get there. Edwina has the right to feel hurt that her romantic wedding did not proceed, as well as the right to feel hurt that Kate concealed her feelings for Anthony from her. However, she does not have the right to insult her sister and take constant potshots at her, especially while Kate is trying to apologize. I found the “half-sister” comment particularly cruel, and I wonder if Edwina regretted saying it.
In this next season, I would appreciate it if the sister vs. sister conflict (which I want to note was not present in the books) was dialed to a minimum. I say this not necessarily because I think it might happen again or because I think this show needs to be faithful to the book, but because I’ve it through the grapevine that Shonda Rhimes tends to like these kinds of stories. Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of two women fighting, we saw them building each other up and supporting one another?
7. Reunite Eloise and Penelope
Speaking of women fighting, I need Eloise and Penelope to become friends again. Their vicious friendship break-up was absolutely crushing, though you may not agree with me as to why I found that fight so hard to watch.
Disagree with me all you want, but in Season 2, I was firmly Team Penelope. I think Eloise is the embodiment of an entitled child with progressive politics but no real understanding of the world or of people different from her. She began a dead-end flirtationship with Theo, a cute writer with progressive views, and I could not have cared less. She acted like a dumb ass and needed to be called out for her recklessness.
It’s pretty uncool of Penelope to gossip about her friends in a scandal sheet, but I can’t help but admire her bravery, competence, and business savvy. How many seventeen-year-olds do you know with successful businesses who then use their influence to make a positive difference for other women and lampoon the rich and powerful? Because when I was seventeen, I only cared about watching old episodes of “Smallville.” Any gossip column I attempted to scribble out would have been hot trash.
I’m not sure how the story of Lady Whistledown will proceed in Season 3, but I hope that Penelope tries to wield her power for good. I hope Eloise gains some perspective and finds it within herself to forgive Penelope. Even though I didn’t like Eloise all that much this season, I still think that her friendship with Penelope is one of the stronger elements within “Bridgerton.”
8. Penelope needs to tell Colin off
One of my favorite moments from “An Offer from a Gentlemen” didn’t feature Sophie and Benedict’s epic romance. Instead, it was a short, sad moment between Colin and Penelope when Penelope overhears Colin complaining to his brothers.
Colin has no idea what he’s doing with his life, and Violet wants him to settle down and start making grandbaby Bridgertons, because I guess you can never have too many of those. She suggests sweet Penelope Featherington, Eloise’s good friend, and later, in front of his brothers, Colin bitches, “I’m certainly not going to marry Penelope Featherington.”
He didn’t know Penelope was there, but the damage was done. Our girl is devastated, but she draws on a reserve of strength within herself and tells off our boy, saying, “I never asked you to marry me!”
YEAH GIRL YOU TELL HIM.
Penelope Featherington may be in love with Colin but doesn’t let that get in the way of her self-respect. I want to see that in season 3.
9. Beautiful, culturally diverse costumes
I’m not a costume designer, but I love the costumes from Bridgerton, even though they’re historically inaccurate. Bridgerton is a romantic fantasy, and the costumes should reflect that fantasy. I don’t mind seeing the occasional plastic flower or a zipper. Bring on the sparkles and the pizzazz.
I especially love how the Sharma’s costumes were influenced by Indian fashion! I think the Haldi scene, when all of the Sharma women were wearing beautiful orange gowns, was a particular stand-out! I hope that in season 3, we continue to see these cultural influences within the costumes.
However, I would ask that the costume designer not require the women to wear such uncomfortable undergarments, like horribly-restrictive corsets, if that’s not even going to be on camera. I see no reason why any actors or actresses need to be in physical pain for a TV show.
10. Chill on the baby-crazy themes
Y’all, I like babies. I really do, and sometimes I think they add something to the plot. But absolutely not in these books. In “The Duke and I,” procreation was a huge part of the plot, so I understand why it factored so much into the story, even if I thought Daphne’s baby fixation made her seem a little too much like a Duggar. However, in every other Bridgerton book, the Bridgerton gals are pooping out healthy babies like PEZ dispensers. It’s wildly unrealistic from a historical perspective and kind of anticlimactic.
Having a baby is a wonderful moment in your life, but it’s not the only moment in your life that matters. Traveling somewhere new can be a transformative experience. Meeting your best friend is a profoundly underrated experience! Or accomplishing something like writing a book or painting a work of art is an achievement worthy of celebration. I’m not saying any of these experiences matter more than having a child, but they do matter.
It is also a fact that many people struggle with infertility, and maybe writing a series where every single female character is blessed with a flock of healthy children can seem less like fantasy escapism and more like an insensitive reminder of what you don’t have. People deserve to read about a full life that doesn’t cater exclusively to having children.
After reading “An Offer from a Gentleman,” I was so unimpressed by the epilogues, which usually just featured some form of “I’m pregnant again” or some other minor passing of the day for our characters. It’s okay if the characters we like don’t have another baby, especially if they already have children and are not trying for one.
Fans, what do you want in the third season of Bridgerton? If that answer is “a classic instrumental cover of Jolene,” then please consider us homies.