Monday, July 15, 2024

Bridgerton season 3 is binge-worthy gold but its lead is less Regency and more Love Island: Series review

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“The season of Bridgerton is upon us!” – or at least that’s what I imagine the show’s resident gossip columnist Lady Whistledown might write.

In season three, it is Lady Whistledown herself who finds love. Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan), the season’s heroine, lives a double life as the troublesome writer causing chaos in 1800s Mayfair and the spinster daughter of Portia Featherington (Polly Walker).

Portia has written Penelope off as her dud daughter who will keep her company into old age.

It is this very fear that springs Penelope into action – it’s to find a husband or wither with her mother.

That’s the set-up when Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) returns from his travels in the Mediterranean with a Ken-ified face and a tan he appears to have picked up in Boots.

Perhaps in Bridgerton times “travelling the Med” was the equivalent of today’s “off to Turkey for a hair transplant”.

Bridgerton season 3: Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington

Bridgerton season 3: Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington take centre stage in the new season


It’s impossible to watch this season and not question why the lead suddenly looks like a Love Island Ken doll.

Since season one, Penelope has lusted after Colin, her boy-next-door bestie who’s none-the-wiser until finally, finally (!) he starts to reciprocate her feelings.

The fact that their relationship has been teased out over three seasons makes it all the more satisfying.

Newton’s acting is fine, though he lacks the charisma and draw of his Bridgerton counterparts, such as the ever-smouldering Jonathan Bailey.

It’s Coughlin who owns this season and rightly so. Her every facial expression shows the years of unrequited love that have tormented our heroine.

But Penelope’s storyline has issues. In three of the four episodes, she runs out of an extravagant ballroom crying for largely unmemorable reasons.

The fact that she’s Lady Whistledown is put to one side, but I imagine this will feature more heavily in part two.

Walker, as Lady Featherington, is also brilliant and brings a much-needed bite to the season.

Bridgerton season 3

Bridgerton season 3 delves into yet another love story for the ages


“Oh, do not tell me you’re holding out for love,” she spits at Penelope at one stage.

Lady Featherington is all reality, no fantasy. But that’s not what Bridgerton is about and lest we forget that.

The show exists to fulfil fantasies, not to right the wrongs of the world. Part one of season three has the formula down to a tee and is a masterclass in bingeable telly.

As Bailey recently said, Bridgerton’s characters were created to “turn people on”. Until they stop doing that, Bridgerton will continue to thrive.

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