Penelope the leading lady in Season 3 of ‘Bridgerton’

May 21, 2024 4:29 pm

[Source: CNN Entertainment]

If you’ve ever felt like a secondary character in your own romance novel, or experienced the sting of unrequited love, it’s time to finally join the “Bridgerton” bandwagon as the Netflix series returns with its most relatable love story yet.

Following the success of its second season, which saw the electrifying “will they, won’t they” love story of Viscount Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate
Sharma (Simone Ashley) – dubbed “Kanthony” by frenzied fans – the spotlight has shifted to two familiar characters poised for their turn in the spotlight: Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan).

The two beloved characters are finally taking center stage as the latest installment of the Regency-era romantic drama, and “Polin” shippers have eagerly awaited this moment, having watched Penelope secretly pine for Colin since the series launched in 2020.

But with a deviation from the order of events in Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton” novels, they will finally be getting the resolution they (and we) have been longing for.

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When we last saw the duo in Season 2, Colin had inadvertently hurt Penelope, when she overheard him telling his gentry friends that he would never court her, creating a rift and setting up the emotional tension for this season.

“When you meet them, they’re both putting on masks,” Coughlan told CNN in a recent interview. “They each feel like they need to be other people to survive and to be loved, and to find a match.”

The journey from friends to something more The new season begins with Colin returning from a summer of traveling abroad, with a new look and newfound attention from the society ladies.

Meanwhile, Penelope is determined to find a husband in attempt to escape her family home, dominated by her scheming mother and newly-married sisters.

With this season promising that “even a wallflower can blossom,” Penelope’s resolve comes with a “glow up” of sorts, which rids her of citrus-colored gowns and awkward hair updos in favor of a more mature, sophisticated look.

“For her, she’s thinking, ‘I don’t care about romance or love, that doesn’t interest me.

I’m going to be practical and find a husband.’ But you realize that she’s done no work on herself. So, the transformation doesn’t fix anything,” Coughlan said.

In an unexpected twist, Colin takes on the role of mentor, helping Penelope navigate the world of courtship. And it works, with Penelope soon attracting the attention of Lord Debling (Sam Phillips), a character who doesn’t appear in the books.

Almost inevitably, this sparks jealousy in Colin. In a Season 3 preview, we see him pensively ask his mother, “Is the best foundation for love friendship?” While fans of the series will be screaming “YES” at their TV screens, Coughlan emphasizes the characters must go on a crucial journey of self-love before coming together.

“There’s a real overarching theme throughout the story with both Colin and Pen, of them learning to love themselves, as cheesy as that sounds,” Coughlan said cringingly.

“But it’s so important. Once they learn to live in who they are, that’s when they really, truly blossom.”

Newton chimed in, “They’ve known each other for a really long time, they know each other’s insecurities, and it’s about accepting that person rather than idolizing a version of them that just isn’t real.”

As this season’s main love interest, Newton admitted to feeling slight pressure, but said he’s embracing the legacy left by his predecessors (Bailey along with Season 1’s Regé-Jean Page as Simon Basset) while bringing a fresh take on the archetype.

“Having sat in this role for the last four years, I felt in a really good place with Colin. He has a lot of traits that the previous male leads didn’t quite have. He’s got this sensitivity and empathy for other characters,” he said.

Unlocking their sexual chemistry Coughlan and Newton said that becoming series leads felt exciting and natural. Their strong bond and open communication allowed them to “unlock” their chemistry rather than having to work on it, proving invaluable when filming “Bridgerton’s” famous love scenes.

“In the lead up, I was very nervous,” Coughlan admitted. “But then once we got into it, we had so much control over what we were doing. They ended up being really fun and watching them back, I think they’re really beautiful.”

What the pair aren’t comfortable with is dishing out dating advice.

Both insisted they aren’t qualified to give modern-day advice (asking for a friend), but they believe that ultimately, Colin, Penelope and the rest of us are “just human.”

“You can have a crush, but don’t think that they’re the be-all and end-all,” Coughlan instructed.

Note taken.

“Bridgerton” Season 3, Part 1 is streaming now on Netflix. Part 2 will release on June 13.