In the premiere of Bridgerton season two, newcomer Kate Sharma has some stern words for Viscount Anthony Bridgerton about his treatment of women.
So impossible is Anthony’s list of requirements for a potential suitor that his mother, Violet, takes him to ask after discovering that he has rejected all the potential matches in Regency society. “You will end up alone with such expectations,” she warns. But Anthony is resolute that the “mother of his children” should tick all his boxes, even if he doesn’t desire a love match.
All that changes, however, when Kate Sharma (played by Simone Ashley) and her younger sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) arrive from India.
At a ball heralding the start of a new social season, the ‘Capital R Rake’ – a nod to Lady Whistledown’s name for the viscount last season – is immediately smitten with Edwina. The only problem is that Kate has overheard Anthony braying to his friends outside that a love match isn’t a high priority. All he really wants, in fact, is “a pleasing face, an acceptable wit and genteel manners enough to credit a viscountess”. Charming, eh?
When a friend suggests that Anthony’s problems might ease when the Queen chooses a “diamond” – the most desirable lady on London’s marriage market – the philandering viscount boasts that if that is indeed the case, then he will have no trouble wooing her.
It’s a satisfying moment, then, when headstrong Kate, who is fiercely protective of her younger sister’s desire to find true love, takes Anthony to task for his comments about women.
After eavesdropping on Anthony’s conversation outside, Kate accidentally trips and makes her presence known to the viscount. He is initially pleased to see her, telling her that he had been wondering when they would meet again. But Kate, who is bristling from overhearing Anthony’s graceless remarks, has the best riposte.
“So you could discern if my wit is acceptable, my manners genteel?” she fires back.
Anthony then accused Kate of eavesdropping, to which she replies that it was hardly an effort, given that he was proclaiming his requirements for a wife “loud enough for the whole party to hear”.
Anthony then asks Kate if she takes issue with his requirements, to which she delivers a scathing clapback.
“I take issue with any man who views women merely as chattels and breeding stock.”
“Viscount Bridgerton: when you manage to find this paragon of virtue, whatever makes you think she will accept your suit? Are young ladies of London truly so easily won by a pleasing smile and absolutely nothing more?”
Maddeningly, Anthony reads Kate’s anger as romantic interest. “So you find my smile pleasing?” he says flirtatiously. But Kate isn’t quite finished.
“I find your opinion of yourself entirely too high,” she continues. “Your character is as sufficient as your horsemanship. I shall bid you goodnight.”
With her words ringing in Anthony’s ears, Kate then sweeps back inside.
Kate is completely right, of course: who wants to date someone with an exhausting list of prerequisites for a romantic partner, much less someone who bases a woman’s worth off their reproductive potential? While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting standards for a healthy relationship, Anthony’s requirements go beyond the realm of qualities that might reasonably fall under a person’s desired standards or true needs and into impossible wishlist territory. Throw in the entitlement and refusal to negotiate on someone who doesn’t possess all these exceptional traits, and it’s little wonder that he reads as completely superficial.
Thank goodness Kate is on the social scene this season to raise the red flag.
Christobel Hastings is Stylist's Entertainment Editor whose specialist interests include pop culture, LGBTQ+ identity and lore.