Within weeks of its Christmas Day 2020 premiere, Bridgerton quickly rose in the ratings to become Netflix's biggest hit ever. The lavish period drama, which is set in Regency-era England, is based on Julia Quinn's eight-book series. The debut season followed the events of The Duke and I, the first book in the series, in which the eldest Bridgerton daughter, Daphne (played by Phoebe Dynevor), sets out to find a husband in 1813.
On March 25, 2022, Bridgerton returned for its second season, which focuses on the eldest Bridgerton son, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), and his quest to find his perfect viscountess. The story is based on the second book in Quinn’s series, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which is set in 1814.
While Anthony has long proclaimed that he would be marrying for duty, not love, that proves to be difficult once he meets the Sharma sisters, Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina (Charithra Chandran). What could go wrong? A lot, it turns out.
Here are some things you might not know about the historical romance-drama that currently has the world besotted.
1. Bridgerton is the first project in Shonda Rhimes's nine-figure deal with Netflix.
Shonda Rhimes and her production company Shondaland signed a nine-figure deal with Netflix back in 2017. Bridgerton was the production company's first project under this deal, and it reunited Rhimes with Chris Van Dusen—Bridgerton's creator and showrunner for seasons 1 and 2, who also served as a producer on Shondaland shows like Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.
2. Bridgerton is Netflix's biggest hit.
Netflix is notoriously tight-lipped about its viewing statistics. However, the streaming network was so optimistic about Bridgerton's potential for success that they publicly predicted that approximately 63 million homes would have watched Bridgerton in its first month of release when the series first debuted. On January 27, 2021, Deadline announced that Bridgerton had already been viewed by 82 million households, making it Netflix's biggest original hit ever.
Bridgerton's second season has already proven to be a smash hit, with 193 million hours watched worldwide over the course of its first weekend online, according to Deadline. This makes the show the most-viewed English language TV show on Netflix for its premiere weekend. It was also in the top 10 list in 92 out of 93 countries (Japan being the one exception).
3. Jonathan Bailey tapped Phoebe Dynevor for advice on how to lead the season, and has a notebook full of tips to pass on to the next actor.
In an interview with Radio Times, the season 2 lead recounted the advice Phoebe Dynevor, who took the lead as Daphne Bridgerton in season 1, gave him so that he could prepare for taking over the helm of this fan-favorite show. “Phoebe was great at [counseling] me, because it’s not something you can explain to your friends and family, who you don’t see for weeks on end,” Bailey said.
Dynevor’s first piece of advice was to be physically ready, meaning: Eat healthy, exercise, and sleep as much as you can, as shooting days can sometimes last up to 14 or 15 hours. Because each season focuses on a different Bridgerton sibling’s love story, Bailey created a notebook he hopes to pass on. “It’s a Bridgerton guide for the next sibling who plays the lead,” he said.
4. Season 2 features lots of nods to Jane Austen and William Shakespeare.
Fans of Jane Austen and William Shakespeare will spot plenty of Easter eggs in season 2 that reference the works of these prolific writers, as well as adaptations of their stories. Most notably: The second season of Bridgerton uses the classic enemies-to-lovers trope for Kate and Anthony that mimics Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy's romance in Pride and Prejudice. During the first episode, Kate is seen eavesdropping on Anthony talking about the women at the party being insufficient, just as Elizabeth does with Mr. Darcy when he makes very similar complaints. And fans of the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice will notice a not-so-subtle nod to Colin Firth’s iconic wet shirt moment in episode 5, when Anthony falls into a lake.
In another nod to Austen, the Sharma sisters’ tight-knit relationship resembles that of the Dashwood sisters from Sense and Sensibility. Both families have lost their fathers and the elder sisters are determined to find a match for their younger sisters while denying themselves the potential for love. In episode 7 of season 2, Kate falls off her horse and suffers a concussion, similar to Louisa Musgrove in Persuasion. (Though in Bridgerton the fall makes Anthony realize how much he loves Kate, while Louisa’s accident makes Captain Frederick Wentworth reexamine his feelings for Anne Elliot.)
Shakespeare fans will see the parallels between Kate and Edwina’s sisterhood and that of The Taming of the Shrew’s Katherina, also called Kate, and Bianca. In both stories, to gain an audience with the younger sister, suitors must first go through the elder sister and “tame the shrew” or, as Lady Whistledown says “tame the rather prickly spinster of a beast.”
In addition, the Bard's Much Ado About Nothing is also an enemies-to-lovers story featuring a failed wedding much like Anthony and Edwina’s would-be nuptials. Bridgerton even features a scene that bears a striking resemblance to Kenneth Branaugh’s 1993 adaptation of the play, in which enemy characters Beatrice (Emma Thompson) and Benedick (Branagh) finally admit their feelings for one another and kiss in a church after the failed wedding, just as Kate and Anthony do.
5. Simone Ashley learned a hard lesson on her first day shooting in a corset.
Ashley told Glamour UK that because she was one of the leads in season 2, she wanted to make sure she was fully hydrated and well-fed before shooting her first scene. So she ate a “massive portion of salmon,” but because she was wearing a corset, she then felt sick. “I [realized] when you wear the corset, you just don’t eat. It changes your body,” Ashley said.
6. Bridgerton takes its carbon footprint seriously.
Georgina Musgrove serves as Bridgerton’s sustainability coordinator, which means she was finding new ways to be environmentally conscious and overseeing steps to minimize the show’s carbon footprint. In addition, Lisa Heathcote, the show’s head food economist, used fake food so it wouldn’t spoil while shooting. Meal scenes had real food but used lighter ingredients and raw vegetables so that the actors could eat over multiple takes.
7. Many of the stately homes featured in Bridgerton probably look familiar to viewers.
Most of Bridgerton's first season was filmed in Bath, England, where the Royal Crescent—an architectural landmark comprised of 30 Georgian terrace houses—is prominently featured (it played a role in 2008's The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley, as well). Hatfield House, Wilton House, Castle Howard, and Lancaster House all make appearances alongside some notable gardens, including Painshill Park in Surrey.
When it came time for season 2, several episodes take place at the Bridgertons’s ancestral home, known as Aubrey Hall. To create this country estate, the production team utilized Wrotham Park, which was also featured in Vanity Fair (2004) and Jane Eyre (2011). The Palladian-style manor in Hertfordshire is located about 17 miles from central London. The Aubrey Hall gardens and orangerie were shot at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire.
Bridgerton isn't the only project that has filmed in these historic homes: Netflix's The Crown, Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice (2005), and Autumn de Wilde's Emma (2020) all filmed scenes at Wilton House; Hatfield House appeared in Enola Holmes (2020) and Yorgos Lanthimos's The Favourite (2018). Lancaster House, which is located next door to Buckingham Palace, has played the role of its more famous neighbor in both The Crown and Downton Abbey.
8. One pivotal scene had to be shot around Queen Elizabeth II's schedule.
Speaking of Buckingham Palace: Chris Van Dusen revealed in a tweet that production had a very tight window to film a pivotal season 1 scene at Lancaster House, because Queen Elizabeth II needed to use the space. Today, Lancaster House is used for formal events and dinners, though it was originally constructed as a private residence for Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (the second son of King George III). Over the years, it has been the site of many historical occasions, including an 1848 recital by Chopin, with Queen Victoria in attendance.
9. The costume department has created more than 8000 pieces—and counting.
Ellen Mirojnick, head costume designer for Bridgerton, and her team of nearly 250 artists are behind the show's (often ostentatious) fashion sense. In an interview with Vogue, Mirojnick said they created approximately 7500 pieces for season 1 alone, and ended up using about 5000 of them. Dynevor wore 104 different costumes during the eight-episode season, and in a behind-the-scenes video released by Netflix, actress Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington, mentions how many of the details on each costume, like flowers and other accessories, were handmade by the team.
For season 2, the costume department didn’t back down on the opulence. Netflix revealed that the dress Penelope’s sister, Phillipa Featherington (played by Harriet Cains) wears to Queen Charlotte’s Diamond Ball in episode 2 required more than 14,000 crystals in four shades of gold.
10. The tiaras come from Swarovski's archives.
Since Bridgerton revolves around the upper crust during the 19th century, it was essential for there to be plenty of showstopping jewelry on display. According to Harper's BAZAAR, jewelry for the show was sourced, in part, from New York City, Italy, and England. And the tiaras worn by the series' main cast members came from Swarovski's crystal archives.
11. Most of season 2 was edited in Chris Van Dusen's basement.
In an interview with BuzzFeed about season 2, Van Dusen shared that, due to COVID, "We had to edit everything virtually, so a lot of the show was put together in my basement and not a fancy studio like most people would think."
12. Several modern pop songs received 19th-century makeovers in the show.
Along with music from composer Kris Bowers, producers also enlisted the Vitamin String Quartet—who are known for their classical covers of famous songs—to perform their unique renditions of modern pop songs such as "thank u, next" by Ariana Grande and "In My Blood" by Shawn Mendes. For season 2, there were several covers of hit 1980s and 1990s tunes, including Madonna’s “Material Girl,” Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know,” and Nirvana’s “Stay Away.”
In addition, there were other modern songs featured like “Diamonds” by Rihanna, “Dancing on My Own” by Robyn, and “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles. Because the Sharma family is from India, there’s also a cover of the song “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” by Lata Mangeshkar from the 2001 film of the same name.
13. Bridgerton House was inspired by Althorp, Princess Diana's childhood home.
Van Dusen tweeted that Princess Diana's childhood home, Althorp, was the main inspiration in designing the Bridgerton family home. Though Diana was considered a commoner by some, she still lived in an elegant and refined estate in Northamptonshire.
14. Keep an eye out for portraits of Bridgerton's actors.
You know those portraits on the walls of the grand homes in Bridgerton? If you look closely, you'll notice that many of the figures are based on the show's stars. When matriarch Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) is invited to Buckingham Palace to have tea with Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel), you can see that the portraits of the Queen and King George III (James Fleet) on the walls are all based on the actors themselves, rather than their real-life counterparts. Even Bridgerton House has portraits of the cast for some added authenticity.
Eagle-eyed fans will notice that in season 2, there are portraits of the young Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) dotted throughout her stately home.
15. The third season of Bridgerton is already on its way, but it’s unclear who will be the focus.
The show’s first season was about Daphne’s love life, which was based on the first book, The Duke and I. The second season followed the same order as the books by playing out Anthony’s love story based on The Viscount Who Loved Me. So it was only natural that fans believed the show would continue on with the torrid tale of Benedict (Luke Thompson) and Sophie in the third season because his book, Offer from a Gentleman, comes next in the series. However, Rhimes recently said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that the third season is already being written and that the show might not follow the same order as the books. “We’re not necessarily going in order, but we are going to be seeing each one of the siblings and their stories.”
This announcement has led many to speculate that season 3 will focus on Colin’s love story with Penelope and be based on the fourth book, Romancing Mister Bridgerton. Though Rhimes wouldn’t spoil which Bridgerton sibling would be the lead for season 3, it seems Simone Ashley might have some of the details. When asked about the future of the series in an interview with E!, the actress said that she was “super excited for the world to see Nicola [Coughlan] and Luke [Newton] rock it." Van Dusen also commented on how he was excited to see Romancing Mister Bridgerton come to life. In addition, Coughlan mentioned in an interview with WWD that filming for season 3 would start this summer, so hopefully fans won’t have to wait too long to find out more.
16. Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey aren't going anywhere.
While Daphne and Simon got their happily ever after in season 1 of Bridgerton, it was announced on April 2, 2021 that Regé-Jean Page—the series' breakout star—would not be returning for a second season. Initially, Page told Variety that the role was always meant to be a short-time gig, which was part of its appeal; "[I]t felt like a limited series. I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit and then the Bridgerton family rolls on," he said. Though more recent reports have suggested that creative differences might have played a part in Page's decision not to return, those rumors have not been confirmed.
Because of this departure, many fans worried that the same would happen with newcomers Ashley and Chandran. Well, Ashley is here to tell fans that both she and Bailey will be back for season 3. “Kate and Anthony are just getting started,” she revealed exclusively to Deadline.
Though the fate of Chandra’s Edwina is still unknown, Queen Charlotte did mention potentially setting her up with her nephew, Prince Friedrich (Freddie Stroma), so who knows what’s in store for season 2’s diamond.
17. Netflix has ordered a spin-off based on young Queen Charlotte.
On May 14, 2021, Deadline announced that in addition to Netflix greenlighting seasons 3 and 4 of Bridgerton, the streaming service also ordered a Queen Charlotte spin-off series, which Rhimes would write and produce. The series will also feature the younger versions of Lady Danbury, Viscountess Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell), and Brimsley (Hugh Sachs).
On March 30, 2022, The Hollywood Reporter announced that India Amarteifio will be playing the young monarch alongside Corey Mylchreest as young King George III. It’s also been announced that Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark from Game of Thrones) has been cast to play a dowager princess and Arsema Thomas will act as young Lady Danbury. In addition, Golda Rosheuvel, Adjoa Andoh, Ruth Gemmell, and Hugh Sachs will be reprising their roles in this new series.
While there's no word on when to expect season 3, or Queen Charlotte's spin-off, you can get your Bridgerton fix elsewhere in the meantime. If you want to read ahead, the books are available to buy now on Amazon.
A version of this story ran in 2021; it has been updated for 2022.