I Was Part Of Bridgerton’s Sneak Peek Event—Here’s What To Expect In Season 3

Buckle up, members of the ton: Everyone’s favorite regency romance is returning this spring, and there’s a lot to be excited about.

By Hana Tilksew4 min read

Bridgerton recently announced that its third season, chronicling the love story of Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington, would be premiering on May 16, 2024. On Valentine’s Day, members of the cast were joined by the show’s executive producer, Shonda Rhimes, showrunner Jess Brownell, and author of the original books, Julia Quinn, for a live Q&A. I managed to score an RSVP to the limited access event, and don’t worry, I won’t gatekeep. Here’s what you need to know about what’ll go down in Season 3 of Bridgerton. 

A New Bridgerton Takes the Spotlight

Bridgerton shocked fans by announcing that its third season would tell the love story of Colin Bridgerton, the third son of the high society family. Initially, it was thought the show would follow the same order as the books, focusing on sister Daphne first, eldest brother Anthony second, Benedict third, then Colin fourth. Daphne and Anthony were indeed the focus of the first two seasons, but the show’s team chose to delay Benedict’s story and fast forward to Colin. 

Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington, explained this change by pointing out that we’ve watched Penelope pout over her crush on Colin for so long that something has to give. But if you’re worried that Penelope will come crawling back easily after that insult in Season 2’s finale, think again. Coughlan said Colin has been “knocked off the pedestal” Penelope had placed him on for years, and seeing him as a flawed human being instead of an idealized fantasy is what enables real love “to blossom” between the two.

But is the restless Bridgerton brother ready to settle down? According to actor Luke Newton, Colin’s heartbreak in Season 1 and travels throughout Season 2 have allowed his character to “grow up” from the “child” he was when we met him during Daphne’s season, so much so that Season 3 feels like “a different show.” It also doesn’t hurt that Penelope will have other suitors – one perhaps more adamant than the rest – pursuing her on the marriage mart to spur a bit of jealousy.

Where Does Everyone Stand?

The conclusion of Season 2 was blissful for Anthony and Kate, who are now married and titled as the Viscount and Viscountess Bridgerton, but not everyone ended on a similarly high note. Penelope has fallen out with both her best friend Eloise and childhood crush Colin. She has also vowed to put away her pen and give up the Lady Whistledown column for good. Going into Season 3, her goal is to give up her wallflower ways and throw herself into the marriage mart headfirst to snag a husband.

Colin, on the other hand, has decided to quit romance completely. A failed engagement to Penelope’s cousin Marina in Season 1 – and a heartbreaking confrontation about the whole mess in Season 2 – has led him to swear off women. As a favor to Penelope, he agrees to help her land a suitor, and during the process, he realizes that maybe he wants to be the man to sweep her off her feet.

Quinn said that Colin and Penelope’s love story was one of the hardest to plot while writing the original books because “the characters are established” and the audience is already attached to them. This means that expectations for the moment they finally get together are through the roof. But Quinn’s favorite part of telling their story was the friends-to-lovers trope, which she lamented “we don’t see on TV” very often. Brownell added that while Season 3’s friends-to-lovers aspect is familiar in a loveable, rom-com kind of way, the trope will also be “turned on [its] head.”

What’s New and What’s the Same

The more things change, the more they stay the same. While Penelope will step out of her shell this season and Colin will learn to take more initiative, certain elements of the Bridgerton world will remain constant. For one, the queen will continue to meddle in the love lives of the ton. Golda Rosheuvel (Queen Charlotte) stated that Her Majesty is getting bored with the prim doe-eyed debutantes presented to her every season, and now she’s looking for something “fresh” – could she find it in Penelope and Colin?

Something else that will remain constant is the show’s unmatched aesthetic quality. Brownell said the production team is “constantly raising the bar on visuals” because they realize how important Bridgerton’s visual beauty is to the audience. In a world made for romance and escape, who doesn’t expect to see impossibly beautiful costumes, sets, and props in every scene?

Despite the fact that some elements of the show will stay the same, others will definitely be shaken up. Both Rhimes and Brownell teased that a few interesting new figures will be joining the existing ensemble of characters, one of whom – gasp! – might just be a rival for Penelope’s hand. Additionally, they hinted at a dramatic transformation in the Featherington family dynamic, which has always placed Penelope at the bottom of the pecking order, with her ambitious mother and gaudy sisters at the top.

If it sounds like this upcoming season will be an emotional rollercoaster, you’re probably right. When asked to describe Season 3 in one word, Rhimes called it “intimate,” Newton called it “unpredictable,” and Quinn called it “long-awaited.” According to Adjoa Andoh (Lady Danbury), Season 3 “makes you laugh, and suddenly you’re crying.”

Will Season 3 Be Book Accurate?

Bridgerton has made more changes to the original book series than just switching up the order of the siblings’ stories. The significant involvement of Queen Charlotte in the marriage mart, Daphne and Simon’s first child being a boy, and the engagement between Anthony and Edwina are all examples of significant diversions from the books in Seasons 1 and 2.

So, how faithful will Season 3 be to Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, the novel it’s adapting? Quinn has previously said that she never expected a word-for-word adaptation of her books, but there are certain scenes she hopes the show includes. During the Q&A, she pointed out a specific scene from Romancing Mr. Bridgerton where Penelope bandages Colin’s injured hand – the first moment of “emotional … and physical intimacy” between them – that did indeed make it into the show. 

Though helping someone with an injury doesn’t sound all that intimate in a modern context, touching the bare hand of someone of the opposite sex, even in a non-romantic way, was a huge deal in the early 1800s – even more so if the two people involved were supposed to be well-bred members of high society. Risqué indeed!

For the Wallflowers

One reason why Bridgerton is so popular is because the show’s audience can often relate to each season’s female leads in some way. Daphne’s story in Season 1 was a love letter to all the hopeless romantics. Kate’s story in Season 2 was a shoutout to responsible older sisters everywhere. But Penelope’s story, according to Coughlan and Andoh, is “for the wallflowers.”

Penelope has always been on the outside looking in, “the laughingstock of the ton,” as she said in a preview clip of Season 3’s premiere. She writes about everyone else’s adventures under the alias of Lady Whistledown, but has no exciting adventures of her own. In the eyes of the ton, she’s the sweet but shy girl who no gentleman really notices. 

Season 3 of Bridgerton is an ode to all the world’s wallflowers, reminding us that it’s never too late to step into your power and take charge of your own destiny, no matter how “polite society” has decided you should fit into it. Here’s to Penelope and all the other wallflowers out there – May 16 is for you.

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