Watch of the Week: Bridgerton (Season 3 PT.1)

Once you’ve mastered basic Bridgerton, it’s possible to sit back and let each new season predictably wash over you, its level of satisfaction dictated simply by how much one connects with the latest characters to be paired off. Fortunately, the third round (after a Queen Charlotte detour) has the highly sympathetic Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) at its core, adding some additional sweetness to the formula.


For the uninitiated, poor Penelope has spent two seasons secretly moonlighting as the acid-tongued gossip Lady Whistledown, using her access to the comings and goings and romances among the elite to greatly irritate many (the queen foremost among them) while titillating them at the same time.


Penelope has channelled her creative energies in this direction in part because of her scepticism that she’ll ever find a match for herself, a process made no easier by her infatuation with Colin (Luke Newton), the latest of the seemingly endless parade of dashing Bridgerton progeny to brave the matrimonial dance. (There’s a praying mantis quality to Bridgertons since while mating doesn’t lead to death, they do tend to lose their heads and then mostly disappear.)

As usual, there are complications and hurdles thrown at Colin and Penelope, including the latter finding a new potential suitor after experiencing the disgrace of having Colin’s gallant efforts to help her find a match exposed. The whole interlude prompts him to begin grasping his own complicated feelings, although in keeping with its Jane Austen-flecked roots, the course of true love never runs smoothly.


To their credit, the producers juggle a few extra balls this time around, including subplots involving Colin’s sister Francesca (Hannah Dodd) and even the family matriarch Violet (Ruth Gemmell), which, given the contortions surrounding the central duo, come across as prudent distractions.


Underscoring the show’s value, Netflix has divided the eight-episode season into two drops, emulating its strategy with shows like Stranger Things and The Crown to lengthen its hold on viewers beyond an instant binge.


If the storytelling has already begun to feel a little tired, Coughlan’s vulnerability (and the semi-adorable note that she has asked for an edited version to show her parents) provides a welcome infusion. By sustaining and indeed replenishing those soap-opera qualities, the series seems unlikely to exhaust its roster of marriage-eligible Bridgertons anytime soon.


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Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

About Author / Boluwatife Adesina

Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

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