NEW YORK — Shonda Rhimes was on vacation when she discovered “The Duke & I,” the first book in Julia Quinn’s Regency-era “Bridgerton” book series, and was quickly hooked.
In a recent interview, Rhimes said, “I immediately went out and bought all the rest of her books.” “She has a wonderful way with words.” ‘These are people I’d like to get to know,’ I thought. They had a universal feel to them, and I thought they’d make great TV.” Rhimes gave the books to Chris Van Dusen, who was equally enamored with them.
He said, “I took them home and fell in love with them from the moment I read them.” Van Dusen went on to create, executive produce, and showrun the Netflix original series.
“Bridgerton” was the first of Rhimes’ series to premiere on Netflix as part of her deal with the streaming service and its CEO, Ted Sarandos, and it set a high bar. Season one of the show, which starred Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor, premiered on Christmas Day 2020 and was a hit.
“I received an email from Ted Sarandos that said, ‘Great job,’ which I mistook for great job. “And then, maybe a week or so later, we started getting the numbers, and I realized what a great job meant,” Rhimes said. “I was just thrilled to have a Netflix show.”
Before Rhimes and Van Dusen came calling in 2017, Quinn’s life was pretty good, but it’s only gotten better since then. She was earning a “nice living” as a well-known historical romance author. She claims that the show made everything “bonkers.”
“I don’t know what else to say. For a while, I was going with surreal, but now we’ve gone from surreal to completely insane.
Quinn also works as a consultant on the show, which he describes as the “easiest” job he’s ever had. “When I see the scripts, I think to myself, ‘This is fantastic!’ ‘I don’t have anything to say!’
Season two of “Bridgerton,” which is based on the second book in the series, “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” is now available on Netflix. The new episodes follow Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), the family’s oldest child, as he embarks on his search for a bride during the social season. Page, whose career has soared as a result of the show, did not return for the second season. Dynevor does have a supporting role in the film.
Each book in the series focuses on a different member of the Bridgerton family, and the seasons of the show follow suit. The series consists of eight books plus an epilogue book with a short story titled “The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After.” Rhimes is also working on a limited prequel TV series about the origins of the characters Queen Charlotte, Lady Danbury, and Lady Violet Bridgerton.
Quinn’s next book, the graphic novel “ Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron” comes out in May.