Why Benedict is the Best Character in Netflix's Bridgerton

Credit - Photo-Illustration by TIME; Netflix (6)

Though the third and latest season of Bridgerton is, for all intents and purposes, about the blossoming romance between old friends Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington, let it also serve as an affirmation that the best Bridgerton in the ton is Benedict.

In the Bridgerton universe, Benedict, the handsome and good-natured second-born son of the Bridgerton brood, is effectively the Prince Harry to Anthony’s Prince William, the “spare” to the heir. When it comes to the laws of succession, he is decidedly less important than his brother. But if you consider their qualities from another perspective—which Bridgerton you’d actually like to spend time with—Benedict is the clear winner.

Read more: Breaking Down the Bridgerton Family Trees

Never mind that the show so far has primarily focused on the forbidden love affairs, narrowly avoided scandals, and theatrical emotional traumas of his siblings. Throughout the series, Benedict has consistently (if quietly) shown himself to be a loyal friend, a sympathetic listener with an open mind, a game and giving lover, and the emotional bedrock of his family—not an easy feat when you’re one of eight brothers and sisters!

In the first installment of the new season, now streaming on Netflix, we learn that Benedict (played by Luke Thompson) has been successfully running the Bridgerton estate while Anthony was on his honeymoon and Colin was gallivanting abroad. It’s a responsibility he balances well with supporting his family, especially Eloise, who has long relied on him as a confidant. All of this labor doesn’t mean that Benedict is missing out on fun—quite the contrary; this season, he strikes up a spicy romance with a glamorous older woman, the widowed Lady Tilley Arnold. All of which should be a reminder that though there are many more dramatic Bridgertons in the series, Benedict has quietly proven himself to be the best brother, son, friend, and lover in the series, time and time again.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the five reasons why Benedict is undeniably the best Bridgerton.

Benedict is present

Of all the Bridgertons, Benedict may be the most reliable sibling. Anthony is preoccupied with his duties being the Viscount and the family’s patriarch; later, when he marries Kate, the couple takes not one, but two honeymoons, leaving Benedict to pick up the slack and run the estate while they’re gone. Colin is seemingly always traveling abroad to “find himself.” Francesca has spent most of the series living in Bath studying the piano forte and Daphne, after a steamy first season that culminated in her marrying the Duke of Hastings, has all but disappeared from Bridgerton family life. Benedict, on the other hand, is always present and ready for a game of pall-mall or a late-night heart-to-heart, like the ones he always has with Eloise. If you’re going to have an emergency contact with the Bridgertons, let it be Benedict.

Benedict is a free spirit

Of all the Bridgerton siblings, even the globe-trotting Colin, Benedict is the most open to new and different experiences. Over the course of three seasons, we’ve witnessed Benedict explore his creative gifts and go to art school, dabble in psychedelic substances, and explore his sexuality. Despite his upper-crust upbringing, Benedict is, at heart, a bohemian and a free spirit. Benedict keeps an open mind and is curious when his artistic mentor, with whom he has some palpable chemistry, explains his open marriage to a woman, despite being in love with a man. And romantically, he’s not obsessed with conventions—from pursuing a life model who worked at his art school to starting a steamy age-gap dalliance with a high-society widow, Benedict answers only to his heart.

Benedict is a creative

Benedict’s ambitions as an artist have been clear throughout the show. Though he could easily settle for just being a gentleman and living a life of leisure, he’s truly committed to his craft as an artist, even going so far as to apply to the Royal Academy of Art. Following his acceptance to the academy, Benedict dedicates himself to honing his skills. While he eventually leaves his studies early after finding out that Anthony had made a large donation to the school to secure his place in the class, it’s clear that Benedict’s time as an artist won’t be defined by affiliations to institutions; it’s core to who he is.

Benedict is emotionally mature

There’s a reason why Eloise calls Benedict her “favorite brother.” As a son, brother, lover, and friend, Benedict is sensitive and in touch with his emotions. Steadfastly loyal and kind, he’s also a proven good listener, something nearly everyone on the show, from his siblings to his mother, has benefited from. Consider his many caring late-night chats (and occasional smoke sessions) with Eloise, with whom he shares a sense of otherness from the family, or the encouragement he gives to ton newcomers Will and Alice Mondrich as they navigate the treacherous social scene of high society. While his brother Anthony is often brooding and his brother Colin can be impulsive (remember when he decided on a whim to marry Marina?), Benedict remains a steady and good-natured presence in everyone’s lives.

Benedict is relatable

Like the rest of us, Benedict is just trying to figure it out. Out of all his siblings and peers, his concerns may be the most relatable—he’s not obsessed with finding a love match or becoming the season’s diamond or uncovering the identity of Lady Whistledown. This is a man who’d just like to spend the rest of his days painting and being accepted for who he is—a relatable king!

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.