Shonda Rhimes, who serves as an executive producer on the hit Netflix series Bridgerton, reveals she was “really shocked” by the reaction fans had to the announcement that everyone’s favorite duke, Regé-Jean Page, would not be returning for the second season.
“I was really shocked because usually, that happens when I’ve killed somebody that’s been around for a while,” she said, referencing the heartbreaking deaths in her other Shondaland shows (McDreamy? McSteamy, anyone?). “Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive! [Regé-Jean] is a powerful, amazing actor and that meant we did our job – every season, our job is finding the right people and putting together this incredible, world-shifting romance.”
Rhimes also revealed she thought fans would take the news in stride and understand that it was part of the nature of the story they were telling. “I don’t know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] is a different romance,” she said. “What would be the ever-after of this combo? I mean, really: What would Regé-Jean do, you know what I mean? We gave them their happily ever after! And now we have this next couple coming. And so yeah, I was like, whoa!”
By definition, an adaptation is the transfer of a work or story into a different medium such as a book being turned into a television series or a feature film. Bridgerton is an adaptation of the romance series of the same name by Julia Quinn. If done right, an adaptation takes the story that is written on the page and brings it to life on screen. For some Bridgerton fans, maybe they had no knowledge of the books and only came upon the show as it was next on their Netflix queue.
The first season was an adaptation of The Duke and I, which chronicles the love story between Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings just like the show. The second season of Bridgerton will be an adaptation of the next novel in the series, The Viscount Who Loved Me. The primary focus switches from Daphne and Simon to her older brother Anthony’s journey to find a wife. The novels are serialized by nature as when one main couple gets their happy ending it is now time to move on to the next story. Daphne and Simon would have taken a backseat in the new season anyway as it is no longer their story. They got their happily ever after. Now it’s Anthony’s turn. And the seasons after (since Bridgerton was just renewed for a third and fourth season) will each focus on a new sibling just as the books do. For fans of the Bridgerton books, they know that the Duke was not in the second one that much, so one can hardly blame Regé-Jean for wanting to move on to other projects where he has more of a presence.
Producers are being faithful to the source material, which non-readers probably think should be a given, right? Well, unfortunately, that’s not always the case . As a big reader myself, I have had many experiences with watching beloved books be turned into films or TV shows with varying levels of success. I know first-hand what it means to have a faithful adaptation as it could take the book and bring it to life before our very eyes (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) or just take the character names with the overall story bearing no resemblance to the story fans originally fell in love with (*cough* Percy Jackson *cough* Shadowhunters). Fans of the Bridgerton books are probably relieved that they are sticking to the blueprint of the novels and not changing things solely because the internet fell in love with the Duke.
Honestly, viewers should be happy that producers aren’t introducing any new drama into Daphne and Simon’s relationship. If they remained the leads, more issues would just keep coming their way until eventually, knowing Rhimes, one is shockingly killed in a tragic plane crash or, rather in this case, a carriage crash. As you can tell, I still haven’t forgiven her for Derek and Mark.
feature images via variety, vanity fair, and canva