Bridgerton: Who is Kate Sharma in season two of Netflix series?
- Credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix
Bridgerton's season two love story centres on Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma.
Kate and Anthony’s (Jonathan Bailey) relationship is a complex series of misunderstandings, frustrations, and denial.
Executive producer Shonda Rhimes said: "I love the fact that, from the very beginning, you see Kate and Anthony and they're at each other's throats.
"They have nothing in common, and they don't like each other."
Playing Kate Sharma in Bridgerton season two is Sex Education star Simone Ashley, with scenes filmed at Wrotham Park near Potters Bar.
While the eldest Sharma is technically on the marriage mart, Kate believes she is too old to find herself a husband and uses all of her energy finding her younger sister a love match.
She is challenged not only by her new life in London, but also the equal parts infuriating and enticing Anthony Bridgerton, who has his sights set on her sister.
On the forbidden love, and enemies-to-lovers theme, Simone says: "Sometimes when you meet someone who has qualities that you see within yourself, they can frustrate and annoy you.
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"That’s what happens a lot with Kate and Anthony; it takes one to know one, and they are incredibly similar.
"They’re forced to spend a lot of time with each other because of the situation and how it all pans out, and soon that frustration turns into something a bit more playful; a bit more tender.
"There are all these things that they find annoying about each other, but it’s because they hold a mirror up to one another.
"They’ve both lost their fathers, and they’re both incredibly heartbroken and still processing all the feelings that have come with that.
"That’s led them both to make some questionable choices, as we’ve seen in season one with Anthony.
"It’s a really special thing to meet someone who has the same kind of fears as you, the same kind of heartbreak as you. You can see all the madness that other people might get quite intimidated by, but can also see the good person beneath all of that.
"When Anthony loses his temper and pushes people away, it’s really special to meet someone who’s going to say, 'You can push me away as much as you want, but I’m not going anywhere'."
While Simone's character was named Kate Sheffield in Julia Quinn's best-selling book The Viscount Who Loved Me, Shondaland producers have renamed the family for season two of Bridgerton, and they are now of South Asian descent.
Simone says: "One of the most exciting changes is that they have created this new family coming to the Ton — a South Asian family.
"In the books, my character is known as Kate Sheffield, but in the series we have introduced her as Kate Sharma. Kate is really well-known and loved by fans of the book series.
"She’s a strong, independent, fiery, smart, intelligent woman, and I think those were the key aspects I wanted to bring to the character; someone who really uses her brain, and is quite smart and has decorum, but also feels this pull to follow her heart."
Showrunner Chris Van Dusen was adamant about encouraging a diverse writers’ room, and Simone is delighted to be playing a leading lady like Kate in Bridgerton.
Of her character, Simon adds: "Kate also holds a lot of power with silence. She does choose her battles a bit, and there are moments when she does keep quiet to stick to her plan; to not ruffle too many feathers; to keep her decorum.
"There’s a lot of power within that as well. She’s just incredibly smart, and she’s got her priorities figured out.
"She’s also wise and has humility; she knows she’s not perfect, and doesn’t always steer the ship perfectly. I really like that about her, too."
Simone says the Sharma family has "a very female-heavy dynamic".
"We’ve got Kate, her younger sister Edwina, and their mother Mary. Unfortunately they lost their father a while ago," explains Simone.
"Sometimes a death in the family can split a family apart, but luckily it’s brought the three of them together.
"Kate’s taken on the role of caring for Mary and Edwina, and I think she can be quite controlling. She tends to make decisions on everyone else’s behalf a little bit, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.
"Mary is still processing and grieving the loss of her husband, and there’s a lot of trauma for her coming back to England and facing the Ton.
"That puts a lot of responsibility onto Kate, to take care of Edwina, and make sure she’s being married off in the right way.
"She feels a lot of duty as the other sibling. Kate’s not come to London wanting a husband or to be married herself, so she is totally focused on Edwina."
One of this season’s emotional centres is the theme of sisterhood.
"Kate and Edwina adore each other no matter what their differences are. They have very different personalities, but really appreciate each other for that," says Simone.
Sponsoring the Sharmas this season is Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh).
"Kate’s used to getting her own way as the eldest in the family, but they’ve come to stay at Lady Danbury’s house, which is not her home," says Simone.
"Kate is a guest there, and she’s very much aware of that.
"She can’t always have her own way; she can’t have as much control.
"And Lady Danbury does put Kate in her place a bit.
"Kate meets her match, and she’s forced to accept a few things and listen and take advice, and to be told that she’s wrong, and to be guided.
"Kate does fight with Lady Danbury, but she also respects Lady Danbury and listens to her. That was a really fun dynamic to play with Adjoa."
On joining the cast this season, Simone said: "I remember hearing about the first season when it came out around Christmastime, and I was actually filming for Sex Education then.
"We were all in the car and everyone was discussing Bridgerton and talking about watching it, so to be offered an opportunity to be a part of it is just really, really exciting.
"I found out I got the role when I was working on another project and couldn’t tell anyone at first. I was so excited."
Simone loved filming the Royal Races.
"That was my first week filming and it was a pretty perfect first week, because it was beautiful, gorgeous weather and we were all together, and it was my first taste of the Bridgerton world.
"I just loved that scene because it’s the first time we see Kate play and cheer on the horses and rip her gloves off and get a bit cheeky and make a bet.
"You start seeing that side of her. The Ton looks at her and thinks she’s a spinster, and bossy, but in this scene she really lets go."
Executive producer Shonda Rhimes explained how the Sharma family's Indian heritage adds another layer of depth to these characters.
"Making the Sharmas of South Asian descent was actually a very simple choice. I wanted to feel like the world we were living in was as three-dimensional as possible, and I wanted to feel like the representation was as three-dimensional as possible, too.
"Finding some South Asian women with darker skin and making sure that they were represented on screen authentically and truthfully feels like something that we haven't seen nearly enough of.
"I felt like it was time for us to make sure that we were seeing as much as possible. And it wasn't just me. The entire creative team was excited and on board with this idea from the very beginning.
"And the idea that they are from another culture, we weave that into the story in a wonderful way to enhance the idea that the very English values of our characters are not necessarily the only values worth having.
"That’s reflected in Kate's reaction to English tea — but, really, it is a very important way of making sure that we are including the world in this.
"Netflix has a global audience. That audience is the world, literally. I wanted to make sure that if you are watching Bridgerton from another country, you're not thinking to yourself, 'Well, this has nothing to do with me'.
"Well, absolutely it has something to do with you. The humanity in every character should feel universal."