Shonda Rhimes has done it again. The television mastermind's newest show on Netflix quickly rose to the top 10 on the streaming platform in a matter of days. If you, like us, binge-watched Bridgerton and are very much obsessed, then you're probably already eagerly awaiting a second season of the Regency era period drama. So, we dug up the most interesting behind-the-scenes facts about the show while you wait for more—from historical accuracy to casting choices to hidden Easter eggs.
Although the show's adaptation wasn't written by Quinn, she was on call for any questions producers had—from the British title system to accuracies in the novel.
It's a Shondaland production—a.k.a. created by Shonda Rhimes, the same woman behind Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and Scandal. While Rhimes wasn't the showrunner for the Netflix period drama, she serves as executive producer and the show is her first major project with Netflix after signing a $150 million deal in 2017.
Even with tons of drama, intrigue, and vibrant luxury settings, romance series aren't often adapted for TV. "People weren't looking to romance novels for source material," Quinn told Town and Country. "At its core romance is, and long has been, a genre that is almost exclusively written by women, read by women, edited by women, and it's become something that society can look down upon."
Regency era London isn't something that we've see on our TV screens in awhile, but we bet we will see a lot more of it in the future. Shonda Rhimes reportedly told creator and showrunner Chris Van Dusen to adapt the novels for Netflix, and we're glad she did!
Netflix filmed Bridgerton's street and park scenes mostly in Bath, England. Other exterior and interior shots were filmed at various museums and historic country homes, such as the Holburne Museum of Art and Hatfield House.
In order to create the grand Hastings estate, Netflix used three different filming locations—Wilton House in Wiltshire, Syon House in Brentford, and Badminton House in Gloucestershire.
Bridgerton's creator revealed on Twitter that the show's climatic scene where the Duke and Daphne are pleading their case to Queen Charlotte was put under a time constraint because Queen Elizabeth—yes, the real Queen—needed the space (Lancaster House in London) to host an event.
"Queen Charlotte is the biggest new character and she's fantastic in every way. I go back and forth between: 'Wow, I wish I'd put her in the books.' And: 'I'm glad I didn't put her in the books because I wouldn't have done her as great as they do her here,'" Quinn told Town and Country.
While Bridgerton has been making headlines for its inclusive casting, Quinn's novels didn't touch on race at all. It was showrunner Chris Van Dusen and Shonda Rhimes who made the decision to include a diverse cast. "I think that working with historians, it became very clear that 19th century Regency London was a lot more diverse and a lot more colorful than people thought it to be," Van Dusen told Collider.
With the buzz around Bridgerton, the historic debate surrounding Queen Charlotte’s ethnicity has been fully reignited. Many believe that the Queen consort from 1761 until 1818 had African heritage and was the first biracial member of the British royal family. PBS's Frontline claims that she "directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House" and cited a number of important historical portraits as evidence.
The character single-handedly changed the course of Daphne Bridgerton's social season when she called her "flawless" at her presentation. But was this historically accurate? Apparently, yes! "She was definitely very much a part of the social scene during Regency times, so having her with us was important from a historical perspective as well," showrunner Chris Van Dusen told ET Online about their decision to add Queen Charlotte to the show.
Many have dubbed Bridgerton the next hit show to "colorblind cast," but showrunner Chris Van Dusen doesn't agree with that terminology. "That would imply that color and race were never considered," Van Dusen told The New York Times. "When color and race are part of the show." The show sits in an alternative reality of sorts, inspired by Queen Charlotte being England's first queen of mixed race in real life. "It made me wonder what that could have looked like," he said. "Could she have used her power to elevate other people of color in society? Could she have given them titles and lands and dukedoms?"
Certain sets may look familiar to Netflix viewers, including Wilton House. The Wiltshire-based estate provided interior shots for the Duke and Duchess's home and Queen Charlotte's residence on Bridgerton, as well as the interior for Buckingham Palace on The Crown.
There's a reason why Lady Whistledown's voice sounds so familiar—it's Academy Award-winning actress Julie Andrews. The 85-year-old reportedly loved the part after being sent the scripts and recorded the entire series virtually from a studio in New York. "I had such a blast writing the voiceover for Lady Whistledown because she gets to say the most scathing, sometimes insulting things. And they're not typical things that you would think that would be coming out of Julie Andrews's mouth," showrunner Chris Van Dusen told OprahMag.com.
Moments into the first episode, viewers are swept into the luxurious lodgings of one of London's most prominent families. "The interior of Bridgerton House was inspired by my visit to Althorp when I was developing the show. Elegance. Opulence. And that #staircase," Chris Van Dusen tweeted.
The dried and ground tobacco leaves were quite popular amongst men and women during the time and Queen Charlotte happened to be addicted to it in real life. Her habit earned her the nickname "Snuffy Charlotte."
The creators of Bridgerton rival Taylor Swift with their Easter eggs for readers. "You occasionally see a bumblebee and all the readers know the significance of a bee, but there's nothing in the first book or season that would tell you what that means. Anytime readers see a bee, they'll know what it's about," Julia Quinn told Town & Country.
While Bridgerton is certainly his biggest role to date, Page (who plays the Duke of Hastings) has been acting since he was a child. The British-Zimbabwean actor even appeared in Rhimes's legal drama show, For the People, before landing his role in the Netflix hit.
It wasn't just the romance that captured our imagination in the Netflix show, but the costumes as well. Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick employed a team of 238 people and created a whopping 7,500 pieces for the season. Another crazy stat? Daphne Bridgerton had 104 costumes alone.
From Ariana Grande's "thank u, next" to Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy,” the show tasked ensembles like the Vitamin String Quartet to translate the modern tunes into Regency-style music.
Showrunner Chris Van Dusen shifted the perspective of all of the sex scenes to the "female gaze," where Daphne Bridgerton's desires are the main focus. "I'm so used to seeing that the other way around," Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne, told The New York Times. "I'm used to seeing the woman drop her clothes for the man who is lying back in bed."
We were all thankful to have Bridgerton as a distraction over the holidays, which probably wouldn't have happened if production hadn't finished filming before the COVID-19 outbreak. Luckily, the show wrapped a few weeks before the pandemic spread and all production was halted.
"[The Bridgertons are] the prominent family of the social season so we wanted their color palette to be powdery—these pale blues, silvers, and greens that feel like whispers of color," the show's costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick told Vogue. "The Featheringtons are new money and Portia needs to marry her daughters off. She sets the tone for them as a family and their color palette is overly citrus because she wants those girls to be seen." Makes sense!
While it may have struck you as odd that the exterior shot of Queen Charlotte's royal residence was scaffolded, it is factually accurate. During a series of tweets, the show's creator Chris Van Dusen revealed that the King and Queen's residence was under construction in 1813, as it was being converted from Buckingham Home into Buckingham Palace.
At the end of the first season, viewers were blown away by Lady Whistledown's reveal. However, in Julia Quinn's novels, the reveal occurs much later—and Quinn wasn't aware of the decision to reveal the identity until she was watching rough cuts of the season. Ultimately, the show's creator felt that it didn’t make sense to draw out the mystery behind the gossip writer, since so many people already knew the true identity from the books.
She was gathering intel for the next day's column! "It was really Nicola's idea, really working with her closely from the start during shooting, she would always suggest, 'Well, why doesn't Penelope just hang out over here, just slightly off camera,' 'Perhaps she could cross right here and we could just get a glimpse of her.' I thought that was so genius to really put these little snippets and clips of Penelope that on a second watch, you'll hopefully go back and see," showrunner Chris Van Dusen told The Wrap.
While the show alludes to the King's failing health, there are no mentions of the historic claims that he suffered from bipolar disorder and porphyria, a genetic blood disorder. Golda Rosheuvel, who plays Queen Charlotte, revealed that the King's illness was created from historical background, but that the show is not a biopic. "It was just from Chris's mind," she told Insider.