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The Society Papers: ‘Bridgerton’ (2024) season 3 beats its predecessors

“Bridgerton” season three is an exciting romance full of character development, blooming friendships and undeniable chemistry
In a scene taken from the book but with many alterations, Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton have a moment together. They were friends for their entire childhoods before realizing their love for each other.

The members of the ton are never in short supply of scandal, a reason why this author cannot contain her excitement about Bridgerton season three, which came out on May 16, 2024. After the success of season two, which was named the most popular English language series in Netflix history with 627.11 million hours viewed, the anticipation and expectations for season three were high. Although they split up the season into two parts, and have only released the first, that didn’t stop her eagerness to run and watch the show immediately. In fact, when opening social media, she was immediately bombarded by content about Bridgerton, practically forcing her to watch it. However, she was not disappointed.

This season features the long-awaited romance between Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington. Unlike the previous seasons, which had forced proximity and enemies to lovers trope, their story is a friend-to-lovers trope. Throughout the previous two seasons, Penelope was hopelessly in love with Colin, who treated her as only a friend. Season two ended with Penelope overhearing Colin say that he’d never court her, a devastating start for the season’s love story. 

While this season had a cute and familiar romance, this author doesn’t think it can beat the passion of the former pair. Kate and Anthony had an undeniable connection from both sides starting the moment they met. Their tension and heated face-offs never seemed to disappoint. The love between them could be felt through the screen by the viewer which showed a perfectly captured connection.

The friends-to-lovers romance that this season gives us lacks the mutual pining from the former. There seems to be an unequal amount of feeling that goes into the relationship. While Penelope has given her all to be with Colin and spends almost every moment pining over him, Colin on the other hand seems to just develop feelings. There wasn’t the same amount of effort and spark between the two. Perhaps if there had been a longer courtship between Pen and Debling, there would’ve been more jealousy and tension coming from Colin which would add to the realization and depth of Colin’s feelings. The relationship between Pen and Debling could’ve added more depth to the show and main relationship, especially for Penelope’s growth; instead, it turned quite superficial towards the end with him saying he had no feelings for her and only wanted a marriage for practicality. Another major aspect that had potential but sadly fell through was the lessons Colin gave Pen. What could’ve been filled with chemistry and heated moments was a compilation of rushed and awkward scenes.

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Friendship is a big topic throughout the season. Penelope tries to rekindle her relationship with Eloise Bridgerton, Colin’s sister, with whom she fell out with in the final episode of season two after Eloise discovers her identity as the scandal writer Lady Whistledown. Throughout the season, Eloise and Penelope bump into each other even though they try hopelessly to avoid each other, each time more awkward than the last. The awkwardness and unsaid words were shown very well. Every time the two were seen in the same room, the urge to talk to one another could be felt through their glances and facial expressions.  

We also watch Eloise befriend Cressida Cowper, who, previously, had quite a reputation as a bully, especially towards Penelope. I was horrified to see her intentionally rip Penelope’s new dress. It seemed she was going back to her old way, however, to my shock, Cressida doesn’t seem to be nearly as evil as she had been portrayed in the previous seasons, and is even a trustworthy friend to Eloise. Eloise confided a secret about Penelope and Colin’s relationship to Cressida, and after it got leaked, I was relieved to find that it was not Cressida who had spread the rumor. Cressida seems to be a true friend to Eloise, and this shows the great storytelling of the show. Having her be a little mean at the beginning of the season and slowly build on her development and backstory throughout made the transition feel natural. 

Quite a few new romances were explored as well, between Benedict Bridgerton and the widow, Violet Ledger and Lady Danbury’s brother and finally Francesca and John Stirling.  The first of the three seems to be quite a random pairing and thrown into the series. The second was a shocking but interesting turn of events. Mrs. Bridgerton has never looked at another man since the passing of her late husband. This is the first time we see her interested in another relationship, with Lady Danbury’s brother. However, Lady Danbury seems to have a problem with her brother, so can we really trust him? The mystery adds depth to his character.

The last couple seems to be something we haven’t seen before. The two can communicate in a few words but understand each other like no other. They offer a refreshing break from the chaotic social scene by giving a new introverted and quiet representation. The new relationships brought delightful new side stories that created an exciting atmosphere, however, there were so many that it took away from the main cast. At times there would be more screen time for the side characters rather than the main so it was easy to forget who the main focus should’ve been on.

In addition, a small aspect I enjoyed was the return of Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Bridgerton. They were the main couple of the second season and brought a sense of familiarity to the new events. Although their appearances were brief, it was an improvement from season one’s couple, Daphne Bridgerton and the duke Simon Hastings, who, to my disappointment, did not appear much.

Lastly, the season shows an astonishing amount of self-assessment and characters trying to find themselves and their place in society. Some amongst society doubt Colin’s new personality as a “capital R rake”; in the end, it seems like he was just pretending all along, realizing the new facade was not a life for him. The personality switch was done quite well. Like Colin, Eloise also seemed to be trying to conform herself to society. With a changed wardrobe and different priorities, Eloise abandoned most of her old styles. While I understand this change, I miss her sense of empowerment and fighting against society.

Meanwhile, more character development begins to occur when Penelope decides that she would like to get married to be free of her cruel sisters, and, in the process, goes through a glow-up and reinvention of herself. But despite supposedly trying something new, Penelope falls back to her boy-dependent ways. She seems to lack confidence and relies on Colin to save her and help her find a husband. Her setback to her old ways was disappointing. A perspective that hasn’t been shown all too well throughout the series but would be pleasant to see is her becoming confident in herself and wanting to marry someone who liked her from the start. Instead, after ten minutes of trying to be different, she returned to her previous desperation and even begged Colin to kiss her.

Character development or recognition from the queen would’ve made the season feel more like Penelope’s. Regardless, there was still an enjoyable way Penelope’s story was expanded through her familial interactions. This season, viewers saw a comedic side of the Fetheringtons and a subtle connection between mother and daughter. It made them a much more interesting and fun family to see compared to how they were shown before. 

One of the most anticipated pieces that makes Bridgerton the show it is, is the music. The music in the show has a way of filling the room with magic. Like the former seasons, the music during this one was incredible, which included Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey’s ‘Snow on the Beach’ covered by Atwood Quartet to Billie Eilish’s ‘Happier Than Ever’, covered by Vitamin String Quartet. It’s an ingenious way to incorporate modern loved pieces into music that fit the theme but also have a sense of familiarity; the classical pop covers are perfect for Bridgerton. There were also beautifully incorporated classical pieces by Francesca. Every time she played the pianoforte, the sound captured the scene and described how she felt beautifully. It added dynamic to the storytelling and showed off her character and how much she enjoyed playing the piano.

Will Penelope be able to become more independent in the time to come? And will Colin and Penelope’s relationship survive if Colin finds out who Lady Whistledown is? These questions, gentle reader, will only be answered in part two of the season, which has recently been released on June 13 on Netflix. I, for one, am extremely excited for it, and wish to see Penelope and Colin’s story continue.


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