[Editor’s Note: Mild spoilers follow for the Bridgerton series of novels, although it is spoiler-free for the Netflix series. This post was first published on October 23, 2019.]
Update, January 21: If you’ve already binge-watched the goings-on of the Bridgerton clan and need more, then help is on the way. Netflix announced that the popular romantic melodrama will receive a second season. Lord Anthony Bridgerton, played by Jonathan Bailey, will “dominate the social season.”
The renewal isn’t surprising, considering the smash success of the series, which is executive produced by Shonda Rhimes and spearheaded by Chris Van Dusen. The series, adapted from the series of novels written by Julia Quinn, tells the story of the Bridgerton family; the first season focuses on eldest daughter Daphne’s (Phoebe Dynevor) relationship with Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings (Rege-Jean Page).
In an interview earlier this week with IndieWire, Quinn said that she was surprised when she got that call that Rhimes optioned her series, because the romance genre is so often overlooked. “I was sitting in Starbucks — so, I couldn’t actually scream but [my agent said] ‘I just got the most interesting call,'” Quinn recalled. “He’s like, ‘Have you heard of Shonda Rhimes?’ So I think my version of screaming was that I immediately texted my best friend in all caps: ‘Call me’ and she thought someone died because that’s not normal for us.”
Per Netflix, “Bridgerton” is projected to have reached more than 63 million households so far, as of early January, making it Netflix’s fifth biggest original series launch of all time. “Bridgerton” has reached the No. 1 spot overall in 76 countries including the U.S., UK, Brazil, France, and South Africa, and has reached the top 10 in every country except Japan. The series has also put the cast members on the map, with star Page being promoted via social media to take up the mantle of James Bond.
Earlier: “Grey’s Anatomy.” “Scandal.” “How to Get Away with Murder.” “Private Practice.” “Station 19.” Is there a showrunner with a higher batting average than Shonda Rhimes? I don’t think so. That’s why her 2017 deal with Netflix — reportedly for $150 million dollars — created shockwaves after she was safely cocooned at ABC for over a decade. (Reportedly the split came after Rhimes’ family was denied a free entry ticket into Disneyland.) Rhimes, the highest-paid showrunner in television, knows what audiences want and offers the dream combination of attributes as she brings stories to screen: She’s both brilliantly creative and prolific.
As her “How to Get Away with Murder” filmed its final episodes for its finale in 2019, and with that, Rhimes’ empire is expanding. Her first scripted show for Netflix is “Bridgerton,” and it made IndieWire’s list of most anticipated TV shows of 2020. And, after a number of social media teases, we got a release date: December 25, 2020. Wait, that’s tomorrow!
The first teaser for the show dropped on Nov. 2 and certainly did plenty to whet appetites. With Julie Andrews voicing our Regency-era “Gossip Girl” narrator, audiences were able to get their first glimpse at the bright and brilliant world Shondaland has created. The colorblind casting is absolutely amazing to see — but it’s coupled with some breathtaking party sequences complete with aerialists, fireworks, and plenty of dancing. Oh, and did we mention sex? Yep, the teaser certainly emphasized that this is Netflix, people, not network TV, and these characters may be wearing layers of fabric but they’ll be getting down and dirty.
Next up on the promotional calendar was the release of the full trailer, which debuted on Dec. 14:
In her spoiler-free review of “Bridgerton,” IndieWire’s Ann Donahue wrote: “Based on Julia Quinn’s bestselling series of romance novels, “Bridgerton” takes the tropes of the Regency romance — The fancy husband-hunting balls on glamorous estates! The pushy mothers desperate to pair off their daughters! The old ‘Oh, let’s PRETEND to fall in love so people leave us to our own devices’ scheme! The men with more money than sense! — and knocks them sideways, all set to a soundtrack of orchestral arrangements of Ariana Grande songs.”
“Bridgerton” is at the same time a safe choice for the streamer — something that is based on existing and beloved book series — and innovative, featuring a race-blind cast in a romance set during England’s early 1800s Regency period. While official details have been tricking out from Netflix, some careful Instagram sleuthing has revealed an additional trove of key details about the production.
As of early March 2020, production has officially wrapped, and, frankly the wrap party looks like it was a hell of a time. Several of the cast and crew posted heartfelt tributes to their time on set, including Phoebe Dynevor, who wrote on Instagram “love you all you ridiculously marvellous humans.” Bessie Carter lovingly described it as “what a madness” and Nicola Coughlan cheered “high five if you finished filming Bridgerton Series One.” (Is that….a hint or a wish for Season 2? We shall see.)
Now that filming is in the can and it’s up to the gods in post production to make the finishing touches on the show, here’s everything you need to know about “Bridgerton”, including several first look photos released by Netflix: