If you are yet to watch the Netflix adaptation of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton: The Duke and I, and The Viscount who Loved me then I implore you to do so. The TV series is simply incredible. The books are even better. Now, while I may have some qualms about a few plot changes, like Edwina and Anthony making it to the altar (when they never even make it to an engagement), or the new portrayal of Penelope as a cruel villainess of anarchy (when she hardly destroys anyone’s reputation in the novel), there are some elements the series portrayed perfectly. But above all, the greatest thing that the series provided was a flawless performance from the 27-year-old British Actress, Simone Ashley. As an individual who can (perhaps) admit they may have read the second Bridgerton book more times than is socially acceptable, with plans to read it even more, Ashley made Kate everything I ever wanted to see and more; from the walk to the talk, she smashed it out of the park.
From the moment she entered the screen, I was left only with the thought of how she took the character of Kate and truly brought her soul to life. Creating the perfect balance of wit, loyalty and thoughtfulness, Ashley gave a stunning performance that I wholeheartedly believe no one else could have played so aptly. Kate is not only my favorite character in the book, but also the series, and that is as a result of Simone Ashley’s breathtaking performance.
I am not alone in my adoration for Ashley’s acting ability with the one and only Julia Quinn (author of the Bridgerton books and one of my idols) stating that “Simone tempers Kate's fierceness with all the vulnerability and devotion to family I worked so hard to bring to the character.” It is clear that it was the complexity and detail that Ashley effortlessly portrayed that completed Kate and left me yearning to witness more of on the screen.
In all eight episodes of the series Ashley explored and expanded the dynamic nature of Kate. Ashley’s portrayal not only presented a loving and protective sister who would do anything for her family, including even relinquishing her own happiness but she also developed the wonderfully witty side of Kate that is quick and sharp, and violently irks Lord Anthony Bridgerton. Ashley also gifted us the fun, charismatic and giddy Kate who “jump[s] around like a crazy woman, yelling” on more than one occasion, as she continually deflates her sister’s suitor. Ashley ignited the complex love of Anthony and Kate who reluctantly fell for one another, unable to fall out, no matter the lengths they take to try to do so. It is clear that this romance could not have happened without the brilliant on-set chemistry of Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey, who much like Ashley, delivered in every department and did not disappoint. Bailey provided us with the perfect Anthony – a role so perfectly cast for Bailey that any other actor would have been nothing but a disappointment. A line has never been so perfectly delivered than that of the fifth episode when Bailey said, “You are the bane of my existence, and the object of all my desires”. Bailey’s artistry truly transformed Anthony from the rake afraid to love, to a man enamored by his wife.
However, if some areas of the original plot from the books had remained, including Kate’s fear of thunderstorms which enable her relationship with Anthony to blossom even more, or maybe the interesting series of events in which Kate hides under a table while Anthony and a certain opera singer begin to have a... conversation, then Ashley perhaps could have done even more.
I hope that those of you who have yet to watch the series do so, if not for the plot, then to fall for the enchanting performance of Kate by the ingenious Simone Ashley. And if you already have, then go watch it again and again; or even read the books. Quinn invents a world full of love, conflict, and a hint of mystery that I have and will continue to find myself lost in time after time. Ashley took one of the greatest heroines in fiction and encapsulated her in a way that is unparalleled in her quality.