The Netflix series “Bridgerton” is based on a series of Regency romance novels by Julia Quinn. The show is a reimagining of London’s high society and not a history lesson. The creators of the show, Chris Van Dusen and Shonda Rhimes, wanted the show to reflect the world we live in today and to be relatable to modern audiences.
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Julia Quinn, the author of the novels, was involved in the Netflix series as a consultant and has been vocal in her support of the creative liberties taken by Van Dusen and Rhimes. She believes that the series should not be a word-for-word adaptation and that television should not be about that.
“Bridgerton” took a different approach to historical authenticity compared to other period dramas. Instead of hiring cultural experts, the creators wanted to create a diverse reimagining of London’s high society.
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Many of the actors in the series turned to fan pages to get an idea of what people expected from their characters. Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington, spent a lot of time lurking on online book forums to see what fans thought of her character. Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne Bridgerton, had previous experience as a TV lead from her role in the series “Snatch.”
Julie Andrews as Lady Whistledown
Julie Andrews voices the narrator of the show, Lady Whistledown. The posh tone of her narration may be familiar to audiences from her roles in “Mary Poppins” and “The Princess Diaries” series. Andrews recorded her voice-over narration in a New York studio while the other actors filmed in locations across the UK.
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Shonda Rhimes and the “Bridgerton” Novels
Shonda Rhimes, the creator of hit ABC shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” was passionate about bringing the old-time Regency stories of “Bridgerton” onto the small screen. She knew the novels had the potential to be a TV success and worked to bring them to the screen.
Inspiration from Jane Austen
The Netflix series was inspired by Jane Austen’s world, but some parts of the show were also inspired by the 1995 BBC TV series “Pride and Prejudice.” “Bridgerton” is a Netflix series that is based on a series of Regency romance novels by Julia Quinn. The show is a reimagining of Quinn’s stories and follows the love story of each of the Bridgerton siblings. Quinn was involved in the show as a consultant, but also supported the producers taking creative liberties with the content of her novels.
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Quinn has been vocal in her support of the show’s creative liberties, stating that she never expected a word-for-word adaptation of her novels. In an interview with Oprah magazine, she said, “I was not going to tell Shonda Rhimes how to make television. It’s not a word-for-word adaptation, and it shouldn’t be. I never expected that. I didn’t want that. It’s not what television should be about.”
Period dramas often have cultural experts on hand during production to ensure historical authenticity, but “Bridgerton” took a different approach. The show opted for a diverse reimagining of London’s high society. Quinn said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “It’s important to remember that ‘Bridgerton’ isn’t a history lesson. The show is for a modern audience.”
The show’s creator, Chris Van Dusen, also expressed a similar opinion in an interview with Town and Country magazine. He said, “We knew we wanted the show to reflect the world we live in today, and even though it’s set in the 19th century, we still wanted modern audiences to relate to it and to see themselves on screen.”
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One example of the show’s reimagining of history is the portrayal of Queen Charlotte, played by Golda Rosheuvel. Historically, she is believed to have been England’s first monarch of mixed race. Van Dusen said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, “That’s something that really resonated with me. I started to wonder what that could have looked like. What could this queen have done? Could she have used her power to elevate other people of color in society?”
Another example is the character of Penelope Featherington, played by Nicola Coughlan. Coughlan revealed in an interview with The Guardian that she turned to fan pages to get an idea of what people expected from her character. She said, “I spent a lot of time lurking on online book forums to see what fans thought. I realized that [Penelope] is this really beloved character, because she’s not this perfect girl that all the boys love. She’s a complete wallflower. So I thought, ‘OK, I really, really wanna do that justice.'”
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The central protagonist of the first season, Daphne Bridgerton, is played by Phoebe Dynevor. Dynevor is not new to the role of a TV lead, as she played Lotti Mott on Crackle’s “Snatch,” a TV adaptation of Guy Ritchie’s hit 2000 comedy of the same name.
The posh tone of Lady Whistledown’s narration is voiced by Julie Andrews, known for her roles in “Mary Poppins” (1964) and “The Princess Diaries” series. Quinn said in an interview with Oprah magazine that she was thrilled when she heard about the casting, “When they told me I legitimately stopped breathing. I mean, I should be dead.”
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The creator of hit ABC shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” Shonda Rhimes