The Bridgertons is possibly the series that best exemplifies this increasingly questioned concept of guilty pleasure. Not even the nomination for best drama series for the first season can disguise that the adaptation of Julia Quinn’s novels is a commercial entertainment with one of the least solid fictional universes in memory and where each season is worse than the previous one.

Producer Shonda Rhimes’ decision to try to justify the racial diversity of early 19th century England, first with bare revelations in the second season and then poorly argued in the Queen Charlotte prequel, only contributed to sinking the ensemble.

The problem is not betting on an alternative history, which has potential, but doing so on a whim and without being able to control all the demographic, cultural, social and economic ramifications that arise from making that decision. There may be change behind the cameras (Chris Van Dusen, the creator, has left the reins of showrunner to Jess Brownell) but it operates following the guidelines of Rhimes, who sees European history as an obstacle to recreating his infantile fantasy.

In this third season, Brownell skipped the order of the books (in theory it was Benedict Bridgerton’s turn to fall in love with a plot taken from Cinderella) to place Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) as a damsel in search of a husband and with Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton), his lifelong friend, in the spotlight.

It’s understandable. This love story has been brewing since the first season and, after Eloise (Claudia Jessie) discovered that her friend is Lady Whistledown, the conflicts derived from this secret could not be delayed any longer. But with the pursuit of romances in the Bridgerton family, an uncomfortable reality is revealed.

Rhimes and Van Dusen were always forward-thinking when it came to business. They knew that if the romantic drama worked, they would have a total of eight novels to adapt: ​​each focusing on the love prospects of a different Bridgerton sibling. But this same vision was not taken when choosing a supporting cast that could live up to the task by moving them to the foreground.

Care was taken when hiring Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor, the protagonists of the first season, and Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley, those of the second, but the following Bridgertons face the challenge. There is no Queer Eye brigade that can hide that Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton is not a heartthrob with horchata in his veins.

The same goes for Luke Thompson as Benedict, who warms up in the band and is given ridiculous material. His role is to be handsome and smile, with no other identity traits except that he meets the most liberal people in aristocratic circles. These limitations in the cast are also corroborated by seeing secondary characters such as Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen), the viper of marriageable age, gaining more presence.

If any virtue must be recognized in the third season of The Bridgertons, it is that Brownell introduces changes in tone. After two seasons of romances that are as passionate as they are tortuous (with Anthony’s and Kate’s having an exhausting dramatic climax), the screenwriter assumes this new stage as a lighter ensemble comedy. Lovers are more generous in sharing the footage.

For example, one of the season’s conflicts is between Penelope and Eloise, still at odds over daughter Featherington’s identity as Lady Whistledown. For the first time, The Bridgerton is interested in female dynamics beyond love affairs. And there is also Francesca (Hannah Dodd), who enters society with a mind more focused on music than on men; Baroness Featherington’s (Polly Walker) obsession with getting her daughters pregnant.

Anthony and Kate get used to their roles as viscounts after the nuptials; Even the widow Bridgerton begins to feel hot when she meets a certain man at the society balls; and, among the figures of the aristocracy, a low-class couple is introduced whose son has accidentally inherited a title and must find his way to fit in (and who, after watching six episodes of the season, it is still difficult to understand what he looks like in a sufficiently populated season).

Plots, therefore, are not lacking. What a pity that none of them are written with originality or taste because, with the reduction of drama, what is light and predictable becomes indigestible more easily. And, with such an arbitrary universe, an increasingly ridiculous wardrobe, a discount beau, a tighter budget and the already mentioned acting level, the spell of falling in love dissolves.

Because it is a fiction that so praises love over convenience, it is sad to see that The Bridgertons works by inertia and dispassionately. Before, even assuming her flaws, he maintained the spark in every dialogue and every look of the budding lovers.