After spending around 15 years churning out hit after hit for ABC, prolific producer Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder) shocked Hollywood by signing a deal in 2017 in which she would produce shows for Netflix. The first series in that deal is finally debuting this month: Bridgerton, a Regency-era drama full of sex, romance, deception, and illusion. Netflix debuted a new trailer today, and it certainly looks as if this will be the next big addiction for fans of Rhimes’ storytelling.
Word came out recently that ABC’s parent company, Disney, was being stingy about giving Rhimes theme park passes when she asked for them so her family members could visit a Disney park. Disney making such a fuss about providing tickets for one of ABC’s biggest moneymakers was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and Disney’s loss is Netflix’s gain. Now Shonda Rhimes is about to get audiences hooked on more addicting drama on that streaming platform, and Bridgerton is her first at-bat.
Inspired by writer Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels, the series follows eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family as they look for love and happiness in London high society. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Shonda Rhimes show without a dash of sex and scandal, and this show looks like it’s positively overflowing with them.
I expect Gossip Girl comparisons to be the first reaction many folks have (Julie Andrews of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music fame provides the voice of the mysterious Lady Whistledown), but I find it fascinating how much this trailer seems to draw connections between 1800s London and modern day social media culture. “You have no idea what it is to have one’s entire life reduced to a single moment,” Daphne Bridgerton says in the trailer’s opening moments; she could just as easily be speaking as someone who has been the subject of a Twitter pile-on. Lady Whistledown is an unseen entity which seems to hold the world in her grasp, much like social media platforms hold us in their sway, and even the name “Whistledown” evokes the bird-like sound associated with Twitter.
Of course, there’s also the classic romantic comedy plot line of “pretending to be a couple but maybe eventually becoming a couple because the pretending got a little too real” worked in, too, and I’ll be interested to see if Rhimes leans into the familiarity of that trope or if she subverts it in a surprising way.
Bridgerton debuts on Netflix on December 25, 2020.
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