Netflix gave us something to look forward to last week when it confirmed Bridgerton would be back for season two, prompting a sigh of relief from the nation’s Duke-lovers and Lady Whistledown devotees.
The hit period drama – executive produced by Shonda Rhimes – shot to the top of Netflix‘s streaming rankings following its Christmas Day debut, captivating viewers with its Austenian love story, 18th century-style pop concertos, wildly talented cast and the abundance of steamy sex scenes. Those of us who originally thought this would be a family-friendly watch akin to Downton Abbey were quickly proven wrong by Anthony Bridgerton’s bare backside 10 minutes into episode one.
While Bridgerton has so many highlights, arguably one of the most underrated aspects has to be Claudia Jessie’s portrayal of Eloise – the fifth Bridgerton sibling and second daughter who’s so-far resisted her mother’s attempts to drag her into the marriage market.
The romantically-apathetic 17-year-old is a stand-out character in the series, often stealing the scene with her contemptuous rants about Ton society and the cynical jibes she fires at her sister, Daphne “Diamond of the Season” Bridgerton, whilst nose-deep in the latest scandal sheet.
Eloise’s storylines provide a refreshing break from Daphne and the Duke’s endless cycle of squabbling followed by sex all over Clyvedon Castle (why do they never seem to lock the door behind them?), with the frustrated sibling fighting to break away from the Bridgerton brood in her pursuit of academia whilst searching for the mysterious Lady Whistledown. Meanwhile, Jessie’s performance in the role is outstanding, with the accomplished actor mixing elements of Elizabeth Bennet with some Jennifer Saunders and a bit of Fleabag, minus the fourth-wall breaking.
With Eloise emerging as a fan-favourite, we’d expect to see more of Jessie in the upcoming season. However, if the series follows the events of Julia Quinn’s novels, there’s a danger that Eloise could be given a more reduced role in the next instalment.
Throughout series one, we watched as Eloise began looking into Lady Whistledown’s true identity, with Queen Charlotte eventually enlisting her help, and while Eloise herself didn’t find out who the anonymous writer was, viewers found out in the show’s finale that it was her best friend Penelope Featherington who was behind the scandal sheet (a fact that isn’t revealed in the books until the fourth novel).
While Eloise is likely to continue her investigation into Lady Whistledown, her efforts won’t be as gripping as they were before with the audience knowing who Whistledown is, and since season two will be focusing mainly on Anthony and his search for a wife, it’s possible that Eloise could be sidelined in the future episodes – especially considering she doesn’t take centre-stage until book five.
I’m therefore calling on showrunner Chris Van Dusen to stray from the novels once again to give Eloise a more fulfilling storyline for season two, and with so much of the character to explore, that shouldn’t be difficult.
We need to see more of Eloise’s iconic moments, from disrupting family conversations to ask how “a lady comes to be with child” to sneaking cheeky cigarettes with her older brother outside whilst complaining about her expected path in life, as well as her relatable friendship with Penelope Featherington. The pair’s relationship is such a fun element of the show, with their shared love of gossip and immature approach to love – hopefully they’ll both get more air time next year as Penelope tries to conceal her secret alias from Eloise.
More importantly, we’d all like Eloise to find a bit of happiness in season two. While it seems as though she’ll be entering the marriage market in upcoming episodes, hopefully she’ll be able to advance her intellectual career a bit further and learn more about becoming a professional woman. “You wish to follow your heart, and I wish to nurture my mind,” she told Daphne in season one – with luck, she’ll be able to do just that next series.