Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Sanditon’ Season 3 on PBS, the Final Season on ‘Masterpiece’

The long-awaited final season of Sanditon on Masterpiece on PBS should — hopefully — see the show’s heroine get her overdue happily ever after. Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) is returning to the seaside resort of Sanditon for one last hurrah before her marriage to dull farmer Ralph (Cai Bridgen). Can her Season 2 love interest Alexander Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) sweep her off her feet before Ralph weds her? 


Opening Shot: A horse-drawn carriage rushes across verdant fields and we see Charlotte Heywood peering out the window of the cabin. However, she is not alone. “Look, Ralph, any moment now you’ll catch a glimpse of the sea.” And then her fiancé Ralph Starling — introduced in the final scene of Sanditon Season 2 — joins her side of the carriage and frets, “I do hope I shall make a good impression.” Yeah, we do, too…

The Gist: Sanditon is a Regency romance show based on Jane Austen’s final, unfinished manuscript. The first season followed spirited country girl Charlotte Heywood as she navigated the very different social norms of an emerging seaside resort. Charlotte fell in love with Sidney Parker (Theo James), but he had to wed his former flame to save his family’s finances from ruin. When British broadcaster ITV cancelled Sanditon after one season, American network PBS scrambled to save the show for its ardent North American fanbase. In the gap between Seasons 1 and 2, the show lost star Theo James, prompting a whole new romantic storyline for Charlotte. Sanditon Season 2 ended with a misunderstanding splitting Charlotte and her new love interest, brooding widower Alexander Colbourne, apart. Can the two finally get it together?

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Colbourne and Charlotte in Sanditon Season 3 Episode 5
Photo: PBS

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Since it’s a loving homage to the works of Jane Austen, Sanditon will remind you of 1995’s Pride and Prejudice or 2008’s Sense and Sensibility. Although the show has cooled it on its controversial Season 1 steam factor, its acknowledgement of (historically accurate) Black heiresses and closeted gay couples might also remind you of Netflix’s Bridgerton.

Our Take: Look, I am Decider’s resident Regency romance simp. That means give me a hot British guy in a cravat making soulful eyes at a spirited young lady in a bonnet and I am undone. I am the target audience for this stuff, ergo I’m inclined to like it, but also I am very picky when it comes to my Jane Austen pastiches. Netflix’s messy adaptation of Persuasion? Not it, dog. This final season of Sanditon? VERY MUCH IT.

The thing that I loved about Sanditon Season 3 is it gets to the best part of all Regency romances: the fabulous balls, the long looks of repressed longing, and the electricity of wondering if true love can overcome all. While Sanditon Season 2 suffered at first because it had to work Sidney Parker’s untimely off-screen death into the story — a whole new major romantic arc had to now be seeded for Charlotte — Sanditon Season 3 hits the ground running. We already have emotional attachments to the characters, meaning we are all the more fully invested in the relationships we’ve been following as well as new romances that emerge. Sanditon Season 3 is a season of TV that loves “love” and I love that about it.

Sex and Skin: There is no sex nor nudity in the Sanditon Season 3 premiere, but Alexander Colbourne does tell Charlotte, “You have proven to be quite irreplaceable,” and that gave me an orgasm. So do with that as you will.

Parting Shot: The villainous Charles Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos) crashes Georgiana Lambe’s (Crystal Clarke) 21st birthday party to reveal that he’s going to sue her for her inheritance. Lockhart seduced Georgiana in Season 2 with the hopes of stealing his cousin’s fortune. He’s at it again! This time in court!

Sleeper Star: Eloise Webb shined in Season 2 playing Alexander Colbourne’s rebellious teenaged niece and ward, Augusta Markham. In Season 3, the actress has transformed Augusta from petulant girl to dazzling debutante. We’re told that she’s spent a season out in society off-screen and Webb’s newfound bearing and maturity confirms it. (She also sells us on the most unlikely of flirtations we could have imagined for Sanditon...)

Most Pilot-y Line: Probably poor Ralph’s very first line of dialogue because folks, he did not make a good impression. He made a very poor one. We do not like Ralph. Ralph is not good enough for Charlotte. Ralph should remove himself post haste. 

Our Call: STREAM IT! Sanditon is an intoxicating pleasure bomb that will have you swooning and screaming at your TV screen. Let Rose Williams and Ben Lloyd-Hughes’s intense eye contact sweep you away!

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