Bridgerton has finally arrived on Netflix and many viewers are wondering how the popular Julia Quinn romance novels ended up being adapted for television. Shonda Rhimes signed a nine-figure deal with Netflix and Bridgerton is not just her first series under the contract, but her streaming debut. The steamy love story is almost as mouthwatering as the beginning of Meredith and McDreamy’s relationship on the talented producer’s ABC 17-season hit, Grey’s Anatomy.
Bridgerton is a visual take on the widely popular books by best-selling author Quinn. The extravagant soap arrives 20 years after the first book in the now nine-title series was published. It has helped push Quinn further into the spotlight with now 19 appearances on the New York Times best-seller list.
The period drama stars Shondaland alum Regé-Jean Page (ABC’s For the People), Phoebe Dynevor (Younger) and the voice of Julie Andrews as the narrator Lady Whistledown, who pens a controversial — at least for early-1800s London — gossip column.
Now, let’s answer the question at hand. How did a cherished romance like 2000’s The Duke and I, which encouraged 11 more best-selling sequels, wind up crossing Shondaland’s path? Like most of Bridgerton’s fans, Rhimes read the novels and fell in love.
“I remember I was almost scaring people, like, ‘We have to get these crazy romance novels — they’re hot and they’re sexy and they’re really interesting,” Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter.
When Quinn’s agent called her four years ago and said that Rhimes was interested in buying the rights to the Bridgerton books, the author said yes almost instantly. As she told Shondaland.com, “One of the first things that people ask you, both when you go into the negotiation process for optioning and afterward — are you willing to hand over creative control? Or did you give up creative control? And you know, when they asked me, I said take it. And that’s because it was Shonda Rhimes! I’m not going to tell Shonda Rhimes how to make television, you know? She’s basically the smartest, most successful person out there and I couldn’t imagine doubting her in any way.”
Rhimes appointed her former Grey’s Anatomy writer and Scandal grad Chris Van Dusen to supervise the series with the caveat that he read the books.
“I was instantly intrigued,” Van Dusen tells THR. “I took them home and I just devoured them. I read the first book that first night, the second book the next night, and so on. They had every element I always love and I always look for: they were funny, they were sexy, they were emotional, they were really charming. And there was this delightful family known as the Bridgertons at the center of them all.”
Bridgerton is now streaming on Netflix.
Michael is a music and television junkie keen on most things that are not a complete and total bore. You can follow him on Twitter — @Tweetskoor
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