Simon Basset won’t feature in Bridgerton season 2, but watching Anthony Bridgerton grow into the man he’s meant to be is sure to be just as watchable.
The surprise announcement that Regé-Jean Page wouldn’t be returning for Bridgerton season 2 blindsided many, but it’s okay that Simon isn’t in it. The first season of the hit Netflix series, based on the book series by Julia Quinn, followed the intertwining stories of the Bridgerton and Featherington clans. However, the main narrative of the series was the evolving romance between and eventual marriage of Phoebe Dynevor’s naive but pert Daphne Bridgerton and Page’s mysterious Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, in Regency Era London.
Though most of the cast was well-received and a few fan-favorite characters emerged, none broke out on a greater scale than Page as the Duke of Hastings. Thanks to his megawatt smile and charming charisma elevating the ever-popular “bad boy with a heart of gold” trope, Page injected the sultry series with boundless sex appeal and became the subject of many a piece of fanfic. With that breakout role, Page experienced a meteoric rise in Hollywood, tapped to guest-host Saturday Night Live, cast in the Russo brothers’ buzzy Netflix thriller The Gray Man with Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling, and Ana de Armas, and landing a lead role in Paramount’s big-budget Dungeons & Dragons movie.
But with that came the announcement that Page’s character would not be returning for the second season, throwing confusion into the works, as it seemed odd that a show would just get rid of one of its two main characters. However, the show will survive without Page and without Simon Basset. In fact, it’s designed to. Quinn’s series of novels is less one long narrative with the same central characters than it is an anthology, with each book focusing on a different Bridgerton’s quest to find love. Bridgerton season 1 was based on The Duke and I; Bridgerton season 2, however, is based on the second book The Viscount Who Loved Me which follows the eldest son Anthony Bridgerton as he navigates being the head of a noble house and romance – and his story is more than enough.
Simon’s Bridgerton Season 2 Exit Is Perfect For Anthony’s Story
After having his heart crushed at the end of Bridgerton season 1, the emotionally obtuse Anthony declared that the trick to marriage is to remove love from the equation. It leads right into the story set up in the second book in which Anthony is resolved to marry Edwina Sheffield, the toast of that season and who checks off all the right qualities he needs in a wife. The Netflix adaptation follows the book closely in this regard, as his plans are thwarted when her older sister, Kate, starts meddling in the arrangement as she has no intention of allowing the rakish Anthony Bridgerton anywhere near her sister.
While it’s disappointing that Simon Basset doesn’t feature in Bridgerton season 2, Jonathan Bailey’s Anthony Bridgerton was another cast member who had something of a breakout himself, albeit for completely different reasons. Anthony’s arc in Bridgerton season 1 simultaneously delighted and infuriated viewers, with the Bridgerton viscount showing tantalizing glimpses of the emotionally mature, evolved man he could be if only he could get out of his own way, so close to getting it and yet so far away. With Simon removed as a distracting influence, Anthony flourishes in Bridgerton season 2, and it’s not certain he would have if had had to compete with season 1’s bigger star. Removing his close friend and ally from the equation also works to isolate Anthony, which is the best way to amplify the drama in his central love triangle with Kate and Edwina.
How Bridgerton Season 2 Explains Simon Not Appearing
Regé-Jean Page was technically only ever set to appear on one season of Bridgerton. This was a part of the breakout star’s contract and in essence a big reason why he took on the role in general. Mercifully, the creators chose not to have Simon’s lack of appearance in Bridgertion season 2 be a result of his death. Rather, show creator Chris Van Dusen explained that Simon is simply at home with the baby while Daphne goes back to London in order to help her family through their current scandal and to offer her brother advice. Simon being gone could have forced some creative writing when it comes to a concrete explanation as to why he doesn’t come back with Daphne, but the show simply chooses not to focus on it. Van Dusen recently had an interview with TVLine and his full comment on the subject can be read below:
“We do reference Simon. In the very first scene of Season 2, Daphne mentions she left her husband and baby at home [to be there for Eloise’s debut]. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out in terms of Rege being a part of the second season, but he will always be Bridgerton‘s Duke. He’s not going anywhere in the world of the show. And just because we don’t see him, it doesn’t mean that he’s not there.”
Simon Not Appearing In A Cameo Was Right For Bridgerton Season 2
Ultimately Bridgerton season 2 is better without Simon for a few reasons: firstly, his story with Daphne has already been played out. The entire focus of Bridgerton season 1 was on Simon and Daphne’s romance and viewers got to experience Simon’s full character arc throughout their relationship. There is little need to really expand that story at this stage. Another reason is that the Bridgerton television show follows the book series and the episodic focus on a different Bridgerton child each time. Bridgerton season 2 adapts the book The Viscount Who Loved Me, which is all about Anthony and Kate and only shows Simon a scant few times. Finally, Simon’s noticeable absence is integral to Anthony’s development as a character. The Bridgerton family is going through a rough time at the moment given the current scandal, and while it would seem like Anthony needs all the help he can get from his friend his greatest ally may actually turn out to be Daphne. Surely Anthony would feel his friend’s absence but at the same time it’s necessary for him to grow.
Crucially, Anthony’s love story in Bridgerton season 2 is enormously entertaining, if occasionally maddening, and the payoff of seeing him finally grow into the man he hinted at in season 1 is extremely rewarding. Simon Basset’s complexity is missed and will continue to be, but there’s no reason he couldn’t return in a later season, and the evolution of Anthony Bridgerton is already more than enough to make the second season’s story just as watchable as the first.
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