Opinion

What Happened to All the Sex in ‘Bridgerton’ Season 2?

My vibrator and I won’t stand for this!!!

Dear reader,

It’s been 455 days since season 1 of Netflix’s steamy series Bridgerton changed the way viewers Netflixed. Once upon a time, we “watched” Netflix while listlessly scrolling social media, but Bridgerton turned TV into An Event—a salacious appointment you had to attend with a fully charged vibrator and an hour’s worth of stamina. That’s why fans of the show, who waited 15 long and Lady Whistledown–less months for the next installment, are wondering: Where the f*ck is all the sex in Bridgerton season 2?

When Shondaland’s Regency-inspired series premiered in December 2020, most of us expected a Downton Abbey equivalent: the dresses, the hair, the heavy accents that somehow make everything and everyone seem more proper. Instead, we got Gossip Girl on sexual steroids. Every episode had a different flirting-with-graphic scene that made us clench our knees together at best and put a hand down our own pants at better.

But season 2 falls short (some would say…flaccid, sorry) on this promise. While, yes, we got the gowns and the wigs and the dialect, we got almost zero sex scenes and therefore practically no new masturbatory material, something season 1 gave us in spades. It’s a scandal!!!

daphne and simon kissing and having sex outside by a lake in season 1 of 'bridgerton' on netflix
Netflix

From the moment Simon “Duke of Hastings” Basset (Regé-Jean Page) tells season 1’s lead, Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), how to touch herself to the four-minute montage of their honeymoon where they literally have sex on a ladder, Bridgerton sex did what other shows don’t: It gave us sex how we want to see sex. That’s why it quickly became one of Netflix’s most popular series.

It’s all on par with not only the book counterpart by Julia Quinn but also the romance genre altogether. Corsets coming untied? Heaving bosoms? Torrid relationships? It checks out. But more importantly, it highlights connection and foreplay and female orgasms that don’t result from 10 seconds of thrusting.

While viewers knew and mourned the fact that Duke Simon the Spoon Licker wasn’t returning to the series, they quickly got over it because season 2’s lead, Jonathan Bailey (who plays Anthony Bridgerton), had already made it clear he was pretty comfy stripping down onscreen. The eldest Bridgerton had four very solid sex scenes in season 1 (double the amount he has in season 2 even though he’s the lead), including one where his bare ass is shown humping his girlfriend against a tree. And after seeing how good Anthony looked pantsless, the Viscount Bridgerton wasn’t really a consolation prize. He was hot, we were game, and at least we’d still be getting plenty of scorching sex.

anthony bridgerton having sex against a tree in season 1 episode 1 of netflix's 'bridgerton'
Netflix

What makes these Bridgerton and Bridgerton-adjacent young adults so, well, horny is that a lot of them—especially the women—haven’t had much by way of sexual experience or sexual knowledge. In season 1, Daphne—as well as her sister Eloise (Claudia Jessie) and neighbor Penelope (Nicola Coughlan)—has no idea how a woman gets pregnant, let alone what ~wifely~ duties entail.

This was great for us, of course, because as the characters discovered their sexuality, we got to reconnect with our own. And it was these scenes, these depictions of women’s desire and uninhibited joy of sex viewed from a more realistic lens that really set Bridgerton apart. This wasn’t sex for hetero dudes. This was sex for us. Like, yes, we touch ourselves. Yes, we want to get eaten out on the stairs. Yes, we want someone to fuck us under the bleachers during a boxing match, tyvm. But what did we get instead? A whole lot of lingering glances, almost-kisses, and FINGERTIP GRAZES that left much to be desired.

While the season 2 enemies-to-lovers storyline between Jonathan’s character, Anthony, and Simone Ashley’s character, Kate Sharma, gave writers the chance to drag out the build, that doesn’t explain the lack of overall eroticism. It’s not like Jonathan wasn’t already well versed in Bridgerton sex scenes or that he and his co-lead, Ashley, were anti-nudity (peep S2E8).

Season 1 had plenty of sex scenes outside of the main characters, not to mention solo action. So why the bait and switch for season 2? Despite any haters out there who viewed season 1’s eroticism negatively, it clearly worked. And more than that, it was true not only to the romance genre but also to female eroticism. We watched and we loved and we walked away from season 1 with sore labias and happy hearts.

Did Netflix simply want to switch gears and cast a wider net for more viewers, or is this a matter of the world not being ready for female-focused eroticism? Whatever the reason, the streamer did more than miss the mark. For a show based around romance novels and so dedicated to celebrating the female gaze, the second installment of Bridgerton feels like we got chastised. Like we were too loud and bold and excited about what the first season gave us. (Orgasms, it gave us orgasms.)

So here’s a lil Lady Whistledown tip, direct from us to you, Bridgerton: When you get your chance to shine next season, don’t bring down the folks who built you up. The 1800s called, and they said Kate deserved more sex in season 2. In fact, I think we all did.

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