Who Is Kate Sharma In ‘Bridgerton’? Simone Ashley’s Character Is A Big Deal

As an adaptation of Julia Quinn’s early-aughts romance series, Bridgerton has thus far been one glorious surprise after another. The series took the all-white, all-cishet fantasy world of Regency England and reimagined it into a fully-integrated universe. This enormously diverse aristocracy featured background characters of all races, but Season 1’s focus lacked one of the U.K.’s most ubiquitous minority groups: South Asians. Season 2 has made a significant move to fix that with Simone Ashley’s casting. But who is Kate Sharma in Bridgerton? Anthony is about to meet his match.

The U.K. had a large population of South Asians since the 19th century when colonialist conquests of India and Pakistan expanded the British Empire worldwide. Currently, that group makes up 7% of the U.K. population, the largest of any minority.

The inclusion of leads like Adjoa Andoh, Regé-Jean Page, Ruby Barker, and Golda Rosheuvel was a step toward erasing the myth that 1810s England was an all-white world. But by focusing on Black characters, it was also a very American one. By casting Simone Ashley as the romantic lead opposite Jonathan Bailey’s Anthony, the series has introduced a significant South Asian family to the Bridgerton world. It corrects another minority regularly erased from this period, putting them front and center.

Warning: Spoilers for Bridgerton‘s second novel, The Viscount Who Loved Me, as well as Bridgerton Season 2 speculation, follow.

Book 2 of the Bridgerton series switches focus to the eldest brother Anthony. Like in the series, Anthony has decided that removing love from the equation is the best way to conquer marriage. To that end, he has determined he will have the most eligible woman on the marriage mart, this year’s incomparable, Edwina Sheffield. Anthony knows nothing about her or her family, but he learns fast when confronted with Kate, Edwina’s overprotective older sister. Despite the family’s dwindling fortunes in the wake of their father’s death, Kate decides Anthony is a predator, and she must protect Edwina from him.

But Ashley’s casting as Kate was not a colorblind decision. Her name is now Kate Sharma. Moreover, she’s not a 10-year veteran of London’s ballroom scene, passed over for marriage due to her sharp tongue. Instead, her heritage is part of her story, and she’s newly arrived in London for the first time, a fish out of water in the ton’s strict set.

Deadline describes Kate Sharma as a "smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools — Anthony Bridgerton very much included." So it seems the character will have the same personality. But there’s no mention of Edwina or their well-meaning stepmother Mary. (There’s also no mention of Newton, Kate’s faithful corgi.) It’s unclear how much the original story will remain. But if this becomes Bridgerton‘s way of digging into some of the ugly parts of Britain’s colonialist past, it will be yet another step forward for this adaptation.

Bridgerton Season 2 begins filming this spring.

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