Netflix is cracking down on “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical,” a popular fan-made musical based on the hit period romance. The streaming giant filed a suit against songwriters Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear in a U.S. district court in Washington D.C., where they recently mounted their for-profit stage musical based on the popular album.
“The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” began as a viral TikTok project, with Barlow and Bear writing songs for an imaginary Broadway musical based on the show. They soon compiled those songs into “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical Album,” which rose to the top of the iTunes charts and won a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. More recently, they mounted the musical as a full stage production which reportedly uses dialogue lifted directly from the show.
As the project continued to pick up publicity over the past year, many wondered why Netflix didn’t intervene to stop it sooner. The company claims that it made “repeated objections” to the project, and is now left with no choice but to take legal action.
“Netflix supports fan-generated content, but Barlow & Bear have taken this many steps further, seeking to create multiple revenue streams for themselves without formal permission to utilize the ‘Bridgerton’ IP,” Netflix wrote in a statement. “We’ve tried hard to work with Barlow & Bear, and they have refused to cooperate. The creators, cast, writers and crew have poured their hearts and souls into ‘Bridgerton’ and we’re taking action to protect their rights.”
“Bridgerton” creator Shonda Rhimes also weighed in on the issue, saying that while she originally appreciated seeing the songs that fans wrote about the show, she draws the line at profiting from them.
“There is so much joy in seeing audiences fall in love with ‘Bridgerton’ and watching the creative ways they express their fandom,” Rhimes said. “What started as a fun celebration by Barlow & Bear on social media has turned into the blatant taking of intellectual property solely for Barlow & Bear’s financial benefit. This property was created by Julia Quinn and brought to life on screen through the hard work of countless individuals. Just as Barlow & Bear would not allow others to appropriate their IP for profit, Netflix cannot stand by and allow Barlow & Bear to do the same with ‘Bridgerton.’”