Success can be a double-edged sword for a TV series. Sure, it’s great to be popular, but a phenomenal opening season can make its second run all the more difficult as the showrunners have to work harder to make sure they’re at least meeting, if not exceeding, the audience’s expectations. This seems to be the case with Netflix’s Bridgerton, the hit Regency romance that took the world by storm at the end of 2020, according to the show’s EP, at least.
While speaking to Entertainment Weekly as part of the magazine’s cover story on its upcoming second season, Bridgerton showrunner Chris Van Dusen recalled that he had a lot of “freedom” on season one because no one was watching. But, with season two, it’s been much more of a “challenge” to stay true to his “original vision.”
“I had a very clear vision for season one, and I was given the freedom to follow through on it,” Van Dusen said, “Then the show came out and started to take hold of the world. It was all so surreal. Staying true to my original vision [for season 2] became much more challenging, but it made me drill down even more.”
Following the first batch of episodes completing the love story of Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and the Duke (Regé-Jean Page), season two will move on to Anthony’s (Jonathan Bailey) own quest to find a spouse, with Sex Education‘s Simone Ashley joining the cast as new female lead Kate Sharma. For any fans wondering if the switch to a different couple is due to Page exiting the series, Van Dusen confirmed this was always the plan.
“It was always my intention to follow a different Bridgerton sibling for every season,” he said.
With Daphne and the Duke having a ‘fake romance becomes real’ arc last time, Anthony and Kate will have more of an ‘enemies to lovers’ dynamic. “The main theme of season two is head versus heart,” Van Dusen added, teasing how these two headstrong characters might take a while to realize their feelings for each other.
It’s possible the struggles to maintain his original vision for the show is at least part of the reason why Van Dusen is exiting Bridgerton after season two. Netflix has enough faith in the series to have already commissioned a third and fourth season, but these runs will see another Shondaland veteran, Jess Brownell, taking over from Van Dusen as EP.
Bridgerton season two premieres March 25 on Netflix.