Heavy Breathing Does Work, Isha: A Rebuttal to “A Diamond or Simply Cut-Glass?”

Image credit: Tan Ai Mei

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Dearest Gentle Reader, have you missed me?

Fret not, for I am not Isha Meleth bringing upon another scathing review to one of the most highly-rated seasons of the year, with the show even going so far as to top its first season in Netflix’s TV Rankings. Instead, I am here to rebut the notion that season two is anything less than the diamond of the season. I confess that I am not usually a confrontational person, yet seeing the absolute disgrace that was brought upon such a marvellous show, this writer could not stand by and allow her fellow club member to get away with such a preposterous act. With reluctant determination, I set out to prove why readers should not take Meleth’s words to heart. Be warned: this rebuttal is not spoiler-free either.

How I Almost did not Watch Bridgerton Season 2

I came to watch the newest season of Bridgerton with grudging wariness, though not due to the fear of not living up to the expectations of season one. To me, season one’s lead relationship between Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset was nothing worth watching; they were vanilla characters with clear-cut agendas and had a fake dating plot so dreary that I could not be bothered to finish more than half the season, much less the entire one. Needless to say, I had no interest in watching another season where dialogue was seen as two characters constantly repeating to one another that they did not like each other as they smile lovingly at one another and their greatest conflict was NOT COMMUNICATING properly with each other. Curiosity got the better of me, however, when my Tiktok and Youtube For-Your-Pages decided to spam me for days on end with Bridgerton content, till finally—with caution—I decided to sit down and binge-watch the entire season…and loved it.

If You Wanna Be My Lover, You Gotta (Put Family First)

I’ll admit: I can see how Bridgerton season 2 can be summarised as Kate and Anthony heavily breathing near each other, with the film crew’s seemingly favourite shots being long close-up shots of them standing wordlessly in close proximity to one another. However, to reduce their romance to merely physical attraction would be to disregard the reason why their relationship is so beloved by so many fans in the first place. That is, the fact that both of them resonate in terms of values.

Kate Sharma and Anthony Bridgerton are both the oldest siblings in their respective households with Anthony inheriting viscountcy upon the death of his father and Kate seeing her youngest sister, Edwina’s happiness as her top priority. Both understand their responsibilities as the eldest in the family and are often extremely protective of their siblings. Unfortunately, this has also caused them to more often than not push aside their own happiness for the sake of family. While Anthony is determined to maintain his outlook of marrying for the sake of convenience in order to ensure his wife and children do not suffer the same fate he did when his mother lost her husband (and him his father), Kate does not wish for Edwina’s future to be sacrificed for the sake of her own happiness. Both value family above all else, and this is what allows them to finally see eye-to-eye. Furthermore, it was just nice to see a storyline that emphasised the importance of family just as much as they did the romance instead of merely bringing them in as a tool to move the plot along.

Perhaps one can argue that their romance seemed “stale and rushed” (who would suggest such absurdity?), but that would mean ignoring why the enemies-to-lovers trope continues to be in romance storylines to this day — the fact that these characters more often despise (and eventually, love) one another due to how similar they are to each other. And isn’t love when you can’t get them off your mind? As the saying goes, “love and hate are two sides of the same coin.”

Rooting for the Underdog

There is a certain appeal that comes from rooting for the underdog, and this very same appeal can be seen in Kate Sharma. Unlike Daphne, who was the Diamond of the season and had suitors flocking to her from left and right, Kate is the ‘spinster’ who is often cast into the shadow of her younger sister Edwina. As she is seen as ineligible in the eyes of Bridgerton (series, not the family) society, this only makes it all the more satisfying when she defies the odds and obtains her happily ever after. Kate’s headstrong and witty personality also perfectly counteracts Anthony’s rigid and structured approach to life. Thus, it was quite satisfying to see Anthony be put in his place a few times by Kate after being such an awfully irritating character in the first season (I still cannot fathom why Anthony would just decide to have Daphne be married to Nigel Berbrooke when she repeatedly objected against it? Boy, how is that in the best interest of your sister?). 

Conflict of the Heart: Love or Duty?

Edwina may not have ever been a true potential option as a love interest for Anthony, but the same could be said for season one’s Prince Friedrich of Prussia, who merely accompanies Daphne to social events as she pretends that she was not staring/ogling at Simon the entire time. Though both characters are never presented as true rivals to the seasons’ main relationship, they serve as good counterparts to the main love interests and allow viewers to understand why the main characters work so well with one another, such as how Anthony and Kate’s drive and competitiveness pushes both of them to achieve more while grounding them at the same time. Though it might seem like the show has not much external conflict due to Edwina’s lack of presence, I argue it’s because most of the conflict revolves around both Kate and Anthony’s internal conflicts regarding choosing duty or love (which in my opinion is a lot more interesting to see). There, we can see how Kate and Anthony are both able to love and prioritise themselves first through finally choosing to be together at the end of the season. In other words, they are able to grow as individuals and resolve their internal conflicts due to their relationship. Nevertheless, it would serve me no better joy than to have a season focused on Edwina and Prince Friedrich’s relationship — Lord knows that they need it after all that pining and angsting they have to sit through as they watch their crushes fall for someone else.

Conclusion: Season Two is better than Season One

Though Meleth’s review should not be taken seriously when it comes to her thoughts on Anthony and Kate, I have to agree with her that apart from Eloise and Penelope’s storyline, all the other subplots this season were lacklustre, serving no purpose other than to increase the show’s overall runtime. 

Bridgerton is and continues to be an unrealistic world where most conflicts are tied up in a neat little bow by the end of the eighth episode. For the sake of a little comforting escapism, I sure hope it remains that way. Nevertheless, Bridgerton season two is still way better than season one, and that is final.