Chris Van Dusen upped the ante with Season 2 of Sexy Bridgerton

“Bridgerton” S2 brings back a “world of decadence, beauty and glamour,” showrunner Chris Van Dusen tells IndieWire.

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While the standard escapist costume drama is a bit dated (see Downton Abbey), a new romp in the life of the justifiably rich still feels fresh and smart. The continued success of “Bridgerton” Season 2 (Netflix) credits Shondaland’s vet showrunner Chris Van Dusen, who put aside his fear of living up to the expectations set by Season 1 and moved forward with his diverse writing space to become the second Julia Quinn -Marriage to follow The romance The Viscount Who Loved Me focused on the eldest son, Lord Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey).

“At the start of the season, it was important that all the magic from season 1, everything we fell in love with, was still there,” Van Dusen said over the phone. “But I wanted to bring it back in a new and exciting way, still immersed in this world of over-the-top decadence and beauty and glamor designed to bring new characters and new romances season after season.”

The showrunner needn’t have worried. Twenty-eight days after the series debuted on March 25, Netflix sat down with Shonda Rhimes and Van Dusen to go through the numbers. It was rumored that Season 2 would do even better than Season 1. Sure enough, the show broke Season 1’s 28-day record with 627 million hours watched, marking it as the most popular English-language series in Netflix history. The Emmy nominations on the morning of July 12 will determine whether the drama series tops the first season’s 11 nominations (including Best Drama Series) and one win (Character Hairstyle).

For his final stint as Bridgerton showrunner, Van Dusen tried to create Season 2 “in a bubble,” he said, “to hide the amazing reception the show was receiving. But everywhere I looked I saw something about the show: a meme, SNL parodies, a great musical on TikTok. We accepted the pressure and expectations to deliver the best show possible.”

Bridgerton Season 2

Jonathan Bailey in Bridgerton.


Using Julia Quinn’s novel as a starting point, Van Dusen and his predominantly female writers outlined and dissected each episode, putting the characters through their paces. “This is a diverse world on ‘Bridgerton,'” said Van Dusen, “with many voices and characters from all walks of life. The show looks like the world we live in today. We also wanted that for the writing room. They are all ages, backgrounds, experience levels. Some people are diehard fans of the book, others are new to the books and the world. All of this works to tell rich stories from multiple points of view. Having countless voices, opinions and perspectives makes a show great.”

The showrunner rules the writers’ room. “At the beginning we discuss the goalposts of the season together, the big moments that we want to achieve,” he said. “It’s about getting more granular every day. We’ll start with broad births, with a bird’s-eye view of Season 2, and go into the smallest details of each episode. We break the outline together, we write the script together. The scripts all run through my computer and out into the world of production.”

The characters drive the narrative forward. “I challenge myself and the writers,” said Van Dusen. “We put these characters in the most unimaginable and impossible situations and watch them get out of them. That’s what I love to see on screen: it’s captivating, captivating and captivating.”

Bridgeton. (L to R) Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in Episode 204 of Bridgerton. Kr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022


Liam Daniel / Netflix

Adding to the colorful fantasy universe Van Dusen created by adding the real-life biracial Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) to Quinn’s conventionally white British world, who enabled people of color to thrive as nobles with wealth and land ownership, come the Edwina sisters and Kate Sharma (Charithra Chandran and Simone Ashley), who enter society under the tutelage of Queen’s darling, Lady Danbury (Adjoah Andoh). Anthony puts his cap on the pliable, eager younger sister Edwina, but soon finds himself drawn to her wayward older sister Kate, who enjoys beating him at croquet and riding her horse at full gallop. Both try to suppress their uncomfortable attraction. Kate wants her sister to make an advantageous match and Anthony doesn’t want emotions to get in the way at all.

Critics who admired Season 1 were also swept up in Season 2, although they noted the absence of breakout sex object Regé-Jean Page, who only signed on for one round. Van Dusen threw for chemistry and made sure Bailey and Ashley brought the Heat back. Ashley wasn’t available for the first Sexual Education breakout, but delays caused by the pandemic worked in favor of the schedule. “We needed an actress who could portray the wild, uncompromising side of Kate Sharma,” said Van Dusen. “She also needed them to be vulnerable. This is Simone: you fancy her, you want her to put Tony Bridgerton in his place, and you want her to fall in love.”

"Bridgeton" season 2

“Bridgerton” Season 2


This time, Van Dusen prolonged the sexual tension between the enemies-turned-lovers as long as possible, which almost strained credulity. But when Anthony and Kate finally indulge their lustful desires, the steamy sex is worth the wait. “It’s a different story and different characters, but our approach to intimacy and the sex scenes was the same in Season 2,” said Van Dusen. “We don’t do sex scenes for their own sake and never will. It needs to have a larger purpose and tell a story, whether it’s about Daphne and her awakening or, in Season 2, about delayed gratification. It can be just as sexy as anything else: the furtive glances, the brushing fingers, the powerful looks. Their chemistry is electric and palpable. As with the Eight Delicious Romances, we wanted the show’s experience to be like reading a romance novel: things are sexy and dangerous and funny. We sometimes take the audience on a wild ride.”

In creating this alternate Regency setting, Van Dusen relied on costume designer Sophie Canale to build on the outstanding work of last season’s veteran Ellen Mirojnick. Canale brought an even more vibrant palette thanks to the introduction of the colorful Sharma sisters from India. Definitely newspaper accurate, “Bridgerton” remains a feast for the eyes.


Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte in Bridgerton.


The creation of Queen Charlotte, who brings dimension, diversity and vibrant color to a rigidly stratified society, is Van Dusen’s pride and joy. He’s thrilled that Shondaland is filming a series for the Queen (he won’t be involved). “We introduced her in the pilot episode, she’s not part of the book,” he said. “I knew that with this project I wanted a fresh spin on the books and the genre itself. I wanted the show to be the historical piece I wanted to see and not look or feel like any other. The key in cracking this series was to create a beautiful multicultural world with ethnic tones. The Queen offered an approach to racing on the show. From there we built the world, including all the women in power, especially Queen Charlotte, Lady Whistledown and Lady Danbury.”

But the downside of any dish dominated by strict social mores is the danger of being at the mercy of powerful royalty, and that’s something one must avoid at all costs, being excluded from society. This is what happens when the Bridgertons and Sharmas are buried in a scandal. In one great scene, Lady Danbury and Lady Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmel) can’t figure out how to free their families from ostracism; all their best plans come crashing down. “It’s a human moment, my favorite of the season,” said Van Dusen. “Here they are in an impossible situation and there is nothing they can do about it. It is about human folly.”




In Season 2, Penelope Featherstones aka Lady Whistledown (Nicola Coughlan) continues to wreak havoc on the court with her rapier feather, while Penelope’s nosy best friend Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) moves closer to revealing her identity and Penelope makes difficult decisions about what to do next to be revealed to the world. This brings the two friends to a terrible reckoning. “The fight between Penelope and Eloise is brutal and devastating, just like I wanted it to be,” said Van Dusen. “The confrontation between them was a long time coming. Penelope has lost everything, she has lost her best friend, her crush and her alter ego. I can’t wait to see what comes next as she picks up her pen again in those final moments.”

Next up: Whatever turns out, Van Dusen will have nothing to do with it. While looking into the back view of Bridgerton, he transitions to consulting executive producer status, available if needed when a new showrunner takes over Season 3, which begins with Bridgerton Book Four, The Amazing Mr. Bridgerton .” This time, they jump straight to the romance between Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherstone. “I put a lot of work into setting up these characters and creating the worlds,” said Van Dusen. “I’m curious what happens. I’m blown away that I was able to create this franchise.”

Now free to pursue other projects, the author is adapting Adam Silvera’s young adult novel The Both Die At the End, in development with E-One, about two teenagers who find out they both have a day to live live left. “It’s such an amazing queer romance,” he said. “There are a few other things I’m not allowed to talk about.”

Bridgerton is now streaming on Netflix.

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Lindsay Lowe

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