Bridgerton (Season 3, Part 1) – TV Series Review

It’s been a long time in between dance cards. Although we did get the Queen Charlotte spin-off last year to keep us entertained, we’ve not had an update on the main Bridgerton series since 2022. Thankfully, Season 3 is finally here!

Unfortunately, it is split into two parts with Part 2 dropping next month. However, patience is a virtue. For the time being, Part 1 delivers dripping with juicy gossip, detailed drama, funny moments, and is heavy on the romance! Indeed, the first four episodes of Season 3 are well worth savouring.

Diverting from the chronological order of the Julia Quinn book series that the Netflix show is inspired by; Season 3 focuses on the love story from book 4 – Romancing Mister Bridgerton. Characters Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton are thrown into the foreground with Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton taking over as main leads, unfolding what may be the most thrilling romance of the series yet.

Bridgerton appears to visit a different type of romance every season. For Daphne and Simon, it was ‘marrying first and falling in love later’. For Anthony and Kate, it was an ‘enemies to lovers’ tale. For Penelope and Colin, it’s a ‘friends to lovers’ love story. Admittedly, I am not usually fond of the latter, however the way that Coughlan and Newton provide such convincing chemistry and character growth in the space of four episodes alone is remarkable. Yes, we’ve watched these characters evolve over three seasons, but their shift from awkward childhood friends to passionate lovers is actually insane!

It helps that the costume department have assisted to visualise the growth of both these characters, together and individually. Colin Bridgerton has moved away from his blue family tones, taking on earthy tones and browns, looking more like a restless and dashing pirate. While Penelope has moved away from her citrus family colours to take on a more softer pallet filled with pastel greens, pastel blues, and the occasional sparkling emerald. As the show progresses and our new favourite pair grow closer, their changed colour pallets compliment each other.

Needless to say, their conversations are some of the most gorgeous and quotable that I’ve heard throughout the entirety of the Bridgerton series. One need only watch *the carriage scene* to see what I mean! Even more delicious is the steamy dream between the pair that will make any Bridgerton fan gush and squeal in elation. Let me tell you, I was shaken beyond belief!

Now, as a plus size woman, seeing Nicola Coughlan’s Penelope Featherington cast as the leading female in a reimagined historical fantasy romance, equipped with a short and curvy body type feels inclusive, welcoming, comforting, heartfelt and very satisfying. Her place in society as not the sparkler but a wallflower is also relatable. After all, sadly we can’t all be the Diamond of the First Water, regardless of our efforts. Seeing Penelope struggle on the sidelines as the ultimate social outcast feels even more emotionally taxing, gut wrecking, challenging and fiercely relatable because this time it’s her story we’re focusing on.

Family wise, I relish in every moment the Featheringtons take to the screen and love being able to see them more this season. The dynamic between each family member is hilarious. I adore Polly Walker’s Lady Portia Featherington, Bessie Carter is humour personified as Prudence Featherington, as is Philipa Featherington played by the stunning Harriet Cains. While I do worry that after this season we will see less of the Featheringtons, it is something I will try put to the back of my mind while I enjoy Penelope’s love journey. Also, Shondaland would be mad not to include them every season!

The ladies of the Ton are cruel, but cruellest one of all may possibly be Penelope’s ex-bestie, Claudia Jessie’s Eloise Bridgerton.

With tensions high from last season, Eloise has found solace in previous enemy-turned-friend of the Ton, Cressida Cowper played by Jessica Madsen. It’s great learning that there’s more to Cressida than tight high hair and being the resident mean girl. Her character development has really been an interesting one to follow during the first few episodes of Season 3, and it’s only going to get more scandalous. In fact, apart from our main romance, Cressida’s side storyline may be one of my favourites of Season 3.

Anthony and Kate have returned to the series, now titled Viscount and Viscountess Bridgerton, the dynamic pair are very much on the same page, are deeply in love and linger in their honeymoon phase. While I still feel that we were robbed of the Anthony and Kate wedding we so deserved, seeing snippets of their marital bliss is enough to satisfy even the most die hard fan. When the pair aren’t gracing the screen with their presence, I admit I don’t miss them as there’s so much happening in Season 3 to keep us gleefully entertained.

Benedict Bridgerton played by Luke Thompson, is back bouncing around with a new love affair, this time in Lady Tilley Arnold played by newcomer Hannah New. Unlike Benedict’s previous love minxes, this one is of nobility, which is interesting considering despite Benedict making his own rules and hanging on the outskirts of society, being enamoured with Lady Tilley Arnold has pulled him back into the circle somewhat, even if it’s under a ruse.

Taking over the role of Francesca Bridgerton is Hannah Dodd, portraying the season’s latest debutante as quirky, reserved, adorable and musically inclined. While I understand this isn’t her main story season, it’s nice to see her tale already in the Netflix series. We love seeing Francesca’s see her heart flutter with potential suitors. As someone who has not read the books and understands that the Netflix series differs from them, I am keen to learn more about Victor Alli’s John Stirling and how he shapes Francesca’s future.

Dodd’s chemistry with Ruth Gemmell’s Dowager Lady Violet Bridgerton is so wonderful to watch. They really seem like mother and daughter and have this convincing connection that feels like it’s been lovingly vibrant, supportive and solid for years. Especially considering Hannah Dodd is a newcomer to the series, this feat is a testament to both talented actresses.

Admittedly, Martins Imhangbe and Emma Naomi’s characters Will and Alice Mondrich aren’t exactly my favourites. I don’t necessarily dislike them but I feel their existence was more relevant in Season 1. However, I welcome their cultural shift in Season 3, their change in fortune and their new need to navigate the uncharted waters of high society is more interesting than anything they have been through before.

Notable of Season 3 is newcomer Sam PhillipsLord Debling, a character that does not exist in the books and was created for Penelope Featherton as Colin’s love rival. Phillips shines in this reserved but lovely and thoughtful new eligible bachelor character. Also, who knew that choosing to eat veggies would be so scandalous!?

Last but never least, Bridgerton would not be Bridgerton without our queen, Golda Rosheuvel’s Queen Charlotte and series favourite right hand woman Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury. The atmosphere between the two is quite harmonious in Part 1. Although, I am aching to see the drama heighten with these two involved in Part 2.

Overall, Part 1 of Bridgerton’s Season 3 is a phenomenal addition to the beloved and popular regency romance series. Yes, we’ve been robbed of weddings again. I would’ve loved to have seen Kate and Anthony’s wedding scenes as well as that of the Featherington sisters. However, Season 3 still provides enough to make me temporarily forget of these wonderful scenes that could have been.

And while I’ve never cared for regency tales before until Bridgerton’s came along; falling in love with the gorgeous costumes, the exciting love stories, the intentional Easter eggs, and the bold and inclusive casting of people of colour. What I love the most is that the Bridgerton stories feel modern while maintaining its classic charm, and the execution never feels insincere. I only hope that Season 3 is just as good as its predecessors once Part 2 is finally unveiled and I can judge fairly the complete package.

For now, I will cheer for the Ton’s underdog and arguably cleverest woman in town, in hopes that she will indeed get her happy ending.

Bridgerton’s Part 1 of Season 3 is currently streaming on Netflix now with Part 2 coming next month on June 13.

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