Bridgerton Creator Chris Van Dusen On The Sharmas Shaking Things Up, Jane Austen, & Unmasking Lady Whistledown
SPOILER ALERT: The following story reveals major plot points from Season 2 of Netflix’s Bridgerton.
The wait is finally over for Season 2 of Netflix’s Bridgerton, and it’s a bittersweet moment for series creator Chris Van Dusen, as he moves on to new projects though he will remain as an executive producer of the series.
Both seasons of the hit period drama are available to stream now in their entirety.
When the series returns, viewers will become intimately acquainted with the Sharma family: matriarch Lady Mary (Shelley Conn), Kate (Simone Ashley), and Edwina (Charithra Chandran). Courting season is in full swing and the Sharmas’ host Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) is fully invested in young Miss Edwina securing a successful match.
Anthony, the Viscount of Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), was pushed by his dear mama Lady Violet (Ruth Gemmell) into choosing a bride, and a match between him and Edwina begins to take shape—though not for the right reasons.
While Kate and Anthony begin harboring feelings for one another, the former pushes her own dreams and wishes aside. Kate’s only wish is to see Edwina perfectly matched, even if it means seeing her walk down the aisle with the man she’s accidentally grown to love herself.
Edwina and Anthony make it to the alter but do not marry—it was a scandal!
Lady Danbury, Lady Violet, and their respective families were shunned by their community—until something bigger came along.
Meanwhile, Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) is seriously pissed off after the wedding of her diamond fell apart and in turn, made a mockery of her. But the worse still lies ahead, Lady Whistledown (Nicola Coughlan/Julie Andrews) is armed with a pen and overflowing gossip that needs to be put to paper.
A bit later, Kate and Anthony privately solidify their love which leads them to recklessly ends up sleeping together. But Kate has second thoughts and decides to hightail it out of town by horse. Anthony also boards his horse and goes after but he is too late. She’s thrown off the scared beast and is left unconscious and injured.
Anthony takes Kate home for mending, though is oddly absent during her convalescence.
The accident serves as a catalyst for the healing of Kate and Edwina’s relationship, which was nearly irrevocably broken when the younger Sharma realized her sibling had fallen in love with Anthony.
In a very mature moment, Edwina encourages Kate to follow her heart.
Anthony and Kate eventually marry; Eloise (Claudia Jesse) unmasks Lady Whisteldown, and both Queen Charlotte and Lady Danbury look towards a future full of many more parties and matchmaking.
Van Dusen spoke to Deadline about how the Sharma family helped shake things up in Regency-era London, Lady Whistledown being more visible, how Jane Austen influenced the season, and his plans for the future.
DEADLINE: In Season 2, there’s less sex but it’s still sexy. What was behind this decision?
CHRIS VAN DUSEN: This season, we shifted the focus with our characters, Anthony and Kate. It’s one of the things that I love about the show, being able to tell these close-ended love stories season after season and focus on new stories and new characters and new romances and new worlds. With regard to the sex, I think this season is incredibly sexy. We’re telling this fraught and charged and really steamy enemies-to-lovers love story and there’s plenty of sexual tension on screen between Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley. It just builds and builds until we reach this really satisfying payoff. I’m really proud of it.
Our approach to sex on the show remains the same: We don’t do sex scenes for the sake of doing sex scenes. We never will. They all serve a purpose narratively, they all push a story forward. The sex scenes of season two are just as steamy and just as likely to leave viewers hot and bothered and breathless as the ones in season one.
DEADLINE: The presence of Jane Austen is obvious in both seasons. This year, Anthony had a whole in-the-fountain-in-a-puffy-white-button-down moment like the Mr. Darcy’s of yore. Being that it’s a period drama, can you not help yourself?
VAN DUSEN: I’m a huge fan of all the Pride and Prejudice adaptations, especially that 1995 BBC one with Colin Firth in his white shirt. That image has been seared into my brain for a really long time and it clearly came out on the page here; it’s a little bit of an homage.
DEADLINE: Up until those final moments of the season, it’s impossible to lose hope Regé-Jean Page will return as Simon Bassett, Duke of Hastings but he ghosted us. Did you try to have him return?
VAN DUSEN: Regé signed up for one season so this was the plan from the beginning, to change focus season after season. Regé is Bridgerton’s Duke and he always will be. He’s referenced throughout the season even though you don’t see him. He’s still there and part of this world. He’s not going anywhere.
DEADLINE: What was it like having Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) back and sharing how much she’s grown as a character?
VAN DUSEN: I absolutely love working with Phoebe; her Daphne is so nuanced and complex. Daphne and Anthony’s relationship in the first season was a little combative. Anthony was meddling in Daphne’s affairs. So this season was so fun to get to do the reverse of that with Daphne inserting herself into Anthony’s marriage market antics. She’s evolved so much from season one. She’s not the pure, innocent, single young lady on the marriage market anymore. She’s a wife, a mother, and a sister. She’s the Duchess and there’s power in that and there’s agency in that.
DEADLINE: Would you like to see more of the Sharmas in future seasons? Or do you think Kate could disappear like the Duke?
VAN DUSEN: I would love to see them in future seasons. I think Simone Ashley, Charithra Chandran, and Shelley Cann are an incredible trio. They brought so much to this world. Edwina, at the end of the season, doesn’t quite have a match. Kate is now Lady Bridgerton and head of that household. I think that would be a really interesting dynamic to see. I’d also like to see how Kate and Anthony’s marriage evolves.
DEADLINE: Bridgerton does so well with big soirees that it was a shame we couldn’t see Kate and Anthony’s wedding.
VAN DUSEN: There is a wedding midway through and it turns into a little bit of a fantasy sequence in episode 6. And at the end, there’s this really powerful moment with Anthony and Kate alone in the chapel, just the two of them, and they share their very first passionate steamy kiss. In fact, that is the wedding. That is such a beautiful, riveting exciting moment for them that there wasn’t really anywhere else to go from there. I think we got them to a really satisfying happily ever after by the end of the season, so when we jump forward in time and see them they are happily married. Their journey is complete at that point.
DEADLINE: What insight can you give on the decision to bring Lady Danbury and Lady Violet down a few pegs this season?
VAN DUSEN: It was so much fun, especially with Lady Danbury. She is a character who’s used to always being and seeing 10 steps ahead. And this season, she wasn’t able to. So it was really interesting to see how she grappled with that, especially when it came to matters that she wasn’t exactly prepared for.
DEADLINE: It’s thanks to the Queen that Eloise is motivated to finally track Lady Whistledown and the result was earth-shattering. What can you share about that decision?
Eloise has been hot on the trail of Lady Whistledown, and that moment when the shoe drops at the Featherington Ball, the look on Claudia Jessie’s face is one of my all-time favorite moments of the show. When she puts it all together, it leads to this really intense, devastating conversation between Penelope and Eloise and it’s brutal. That confrontation was a long time coming.
By the end of the season, Penelope has been stripped of everything. She’s lost her best friend. She’s lost Colin (Luke Newton), her crush. She’s lost her alter ego. It was really fascinating for me to figure out what she does next, which is revealed in the last few moments of the finale.
DEADLINE: Have there been conversations between you and Jess Brownell who will take over Bridgerton about Season 3?
VAN DUSEN: Bridgerton is something that I’m always going to be immensely proud of, it’s been an incredible experience. I did a lot of work these first two seasons setting up all these characters for future seasons. My plan has always been that we would look at every Bridgerton sibling, all 8 of them. I want the show to give romance and love stories to each one of them. I think I was able to do that and set all that up in a way that allows for continued success for the show. I think it’s any creator’s goal to create characters that can sustain the life of a series. And in this case, I was able to create characters that can sustain an entire franchise, multiple series like what’s happening with Queen Charlotte. I’m certainly curious to see where the show goes.
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