The Love Story Behind Bridgerton Season 3 Might Not Be What You Expect

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Fret not after that tumultuous Bridgerton season 2 finale: Lady Whistledown will write again. Netflix announced way back on April 13, 2021, that it had already renewed the dazzling period romance for both a third and fourth season, just as the highly anticipated season 2 began filming in the U.K.

Bridgerton is based on a series of eight novels (and multiple “epilogues”) written by Julia Quinn and adapted for Netflix by Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland productions. They follow the Bridgerton family, comprised of widowed matriarch Violet (Ruth Gemmell) and her eight children, as they seek marriage matches in Regency England’s high society. The first season, which premiered Dec. 25, 2020, broke Netflix viewing records as it followed eldest daughter Daphne’s (Phoebe Dynevor) search for a husband, and her unexpected connection with the dashing Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page). Season 2 then tackled the second book in the series, honing in on eldest brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey)’s enemies-to-lovers romance with the foolhardy Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley). But it seems Netflix has every intention to continue this story far beyond these installments.

Bridgerton swept us off our feet,” Netflix VP of Global TV Bela Bajaria said in a statement when seasons 3 and 4 were first announced. “The creative team, led by Shonda, knew the material and delivered a beautiful, emotional, romantic drama for our members. They have some exciting plans for the future, and we think audiences will continue to swoon for this show. We’re planning to be in the Bridgerton business for a long time to come.”

After a finale that ended in marital bliss for Anthony and Kate but stinging deception for Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and her best friend, Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie), here’s what we know about what could come next.

When will Bridgerton season 3 come out?

So far, there’s no word yet on when the next installment will land—only that it is, in fact, forthcoming. Season 2 premiered a little over a year after season 1, but given that production was slowed by the pandemic, it’s possible the creative team might hasten season 3’s development. If so, we could be looking at a spring 2023 debut date for the next chapter.

Who will the season focus on?

If the series continues to follow the chronology of the books, the next Bridgerton to get the lead treatment will be Benedict (Luke Thompson), who takes center stage in An Offer From a Gentleman. The story pulls heavily from Cinderella lore: Benedict falls for one Sophie Beckett, an earl’s daughter forced into servitude by her hateful stepmother.

But we have reason to believe the Bridgerton creators could switch around the timeline, putting Penelope, aka Lady Whistledown, and Bridgerton brother Colin (Luke Newton) in the hot seat instead. During an interview with E! News, Ashley let it slip that she was “super excited for the world to see Nicola and Luke rock it,” which the outlet interpreted as a tease that season 3 might skip ahead to showcase their romance.

When E! interviewed showrunner Chris Van Dusen, he played coy, adding, “We did a lot of work in these first two seasons as far as setting up Penelope and Colin’s love story. There’s so much yearning and so much angst there that it’s going to be really satisfying when the show gets to really focus on the two of them.”

Newton himself gave us further reason to suspect a shake-up from the books, telling E! News, “You never know what storylines are gonna overlap. So maybe, we have a shift in time.”

Will the cast return?

After Page famously departed Bridgerton following his season 1 run, citing his completed arc and one-season commitment to the series, many fans might be wondering if Bailey, Ashley, and other new favorites will return for the third season. Although no cast news has been confirmed by Netflix, it seems all but certain Bailey will return as the eldest Bridgerton—if only to give marital advice like his sister, Daphne, did in season 2.

But other cast members who’ve yet to explore their own romances are all but guaranteed to return, including Penelope, Eloise, Colin, Benedict and more.

On May 14, 2021, Netflix also announced Jess Brownell would take over as Bridgerton showrunner for seasons 3 and 4. While we eagerly await further news from the ton, you’re always welcome to dip into the source material to satisfy your cravings.

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