Culture Editor Ash Sutton praises the first part of Bridgerton’s new season despite some weaknesses, finding it enjoyable but rushed

first year Digital Media and Communications student, culture editor and general geek

Dearest gentle reader, alas the Bridgertons have graced our screens again for yet another social season in London. The nation’s favourite regency romance has come back for a third season, of which I was unsure would top the dramatic perfection of season two. If you are unaware, Bridgerton is a Shondaland production based on the Julia Quinn novel series, it focuses on an upper-class family (the Bridgertons) in 1800s London as each sibling tackles the competitive marriage mart and ultimately finds love in a society where marriage is an act of convenience and power. Up until this point the show has followed the books by release, but season three sees us jump to the fourth instalment Romancing Mister Bridgerton, kicking Benedict (Luke Thompson) to the curb for another couple of years, much to my absolute dismay.

Each couple thus far has been tied together by anonymous author Lady Whistledown, the writer behind the first scandal sheet that has been unafraid to say what the rest of society is merely thinking and is known to be able to cause social ruin with a flick of the quill. Season three follows fourth-born Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and wallflower Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan), two long standing childhood friends. Penelope, who is utterly in love with Colin, and Colin, who is utterly oblivious to it all. 

Each season of Bridgerton tends to follow a cliché yet well-loved romance trope. Daphne and Simon in season one took fake dating;Anthony and Kate in season two portrayed a swoon-worthy story of enemies to lovers; and Colin and Penelope this season are tackling friends to lovers. This trope is arguably very low down the list of ones I fall in love with, which I think has tainted my enjoyment of the season so far. The love story also feels slightly rushed this time around, though considering the choice to split the season into two halves, the second of which is still yet to be released on the 16thJune, I understand the need to round this chapter off in the way that is most likely to leave the audience gagging for more, and with that they did succeed. 

Coughlan does a fabulous job at taking the spotlight as leading lady

Coughlan does a fabulous job at taking the spotlight as leading lady, she brings the awkwardness and innocence of Penelope to a completely new light, while also giving her an admirable edge we have yet to see from the character. Watching her grow and develop has been incredibly satisfying, and despite Penelope reaching quite the low after having a huge quarrel with best friend Eloise at theend of the previous season, leaving her friendless and alone,Coughlan’s Penelope remains unequivocally loveable. There were a couple of moments that fall to the ‘dumb girl’ rom-com trope of a female protagonist, but still Penelope has climbed to being one of my favourite characters. 

As tradition, both parts of the lead couple received the ‘Bridgerton glow up’ and while Penelope benefits from this – the newfound confidence and darker wardrobe is gorgeous – Colin’s reinvention makes him into a cringe-worthy, womanising Prince Charming. Truthfully, Colin has never been my favourite Bridgerton sibling, and while the dynamic between him and Penelope was adorable, the character himself was one I just could not gel with. 

This season of Bridgerton brings another round of impeccable costumes, locations and classical covers of beloved pop songs

This season of Bridgerton brings another round of impeccable costumes, locations and classical covers of beloved pop songs. The ball scenes are always a standout of the show, and season three does not disappoint. The supporting cast also bring more to the show than they have in the past, the Featheringtons’ subplot has always been one that I have hated but they bring a good deal of the comedy this season. The introduction to Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd) as a main character is enticing, I think she will become a quick favourite and I am excited to see what they do with her leading up to her own season, especially knowing briefly what makes her story. Controversially, I also enjoyed newcomer Lord Debling (Sam Phillips) and thought him and Penelope would have made a very good match if not for destiny.

Considering this is only part one, there was an expected lack of sexual tension and real scandal and drama, but I devoured what we got with every bit of enthusiasm. The season ended with a teaser for the second half, and it seems as though Lady Whistledown is about to cause quite the scene. Colin and Penelope’s fresh relationship looks as if it is about to be tested in ways they may not be able to survive. And let me tell you I am on the edge of my seat ready to watch the drama unfold. 

Rating: 4/5

Read more from Redbrick TV: 

Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Review: Boy Swallows Universe

Review: Mr Bates vs The Post Office