Bridgerton- The Book V.S. it’s TV Counterpart

Dania Chavez, Brimstone Reporter

The fairly new series, Bridgerton, a period drama that took the world by storm this past December, was at first like many; a book. The show was highly favored by many and recognized as revolutionary for its genre. Rules abound in Regency London’s ballrooms and drawing rooms. Children of aristocrats are taught how to address an earl and bow before a prince from an early age, while many other rules are unsaid but are still generally recognized. A proper duke should be haughty and distant. A young, unmarried girl should be friendly… but not overly friendly. 


Daphne Bridgerton has never been successful at the latter. She’s the fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, and she’s made acquaintances with some of London’s most desirable young men. Daphne is well-liked by everybody because of her humor and compassion. No one, however, genuinely desires her. She’s simply too honest to be deceived and too hesitant to play the love games that attract males. Simon Bassett, Duke of Hastings, is not known for his friendliness. He has recently returned to England from a trip overseas, and he wants to avoid marriage and society, much like his cruel father did during Simon’s traumatic upbringing.


An encounter with his closest friend’s sister, on the other hand, opens up another possibility. Simon can discourage the mothers who flaunt their daughters in front of him if Daphne agrees to a phony courtship. Meanwhile, Daphne’s possibilities and reputation will skyrocket. At first, the strategy appeared to be a success. But there is only one certainty in the dazzling, gossipy, cutthroat world of London’s elite: Love breaks all the rules… 


Alterations to the plot thread are common in every book-to-screen adaptation, and Bridgerton is no exception. The new period drama is based on the book series of the same name by novelist Julia Quinn. After making her debut on London’s social scene, Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) struggles to find a husband in both versions. To improve her prospects, she devises a plan with Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page) to pose as a couple in order to attract other suitors. The Duke of Hastings no longer wanted to fear that he would never marry, so he devised a scheme that would benefit the both of them.


Following her resignation from ABC in 2017, where she created popular programs including Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder, TV producer Shonda Rhimes signed a Netflix agreement. Bridgerton is the first film published under her deal. Quinn, 51, has said that she never expected her books to be made into films. “Truly, I never thought this would happen to me. And I never thought it would happen to anyone because nobody was adapting romance novels, historical, or really even contemporary, for screen other than Hallmark movies,” she told Entertainment Weekly, “If somebody was going to do a period piece, they wanted to do another adaptation of Jane Austen or one of the Brontë sisters.”


The show’s success has allowed the magnificent cast, particularly Dynevor and Page, to become household stars. The couple’s extraordinary onscreen chemistry has even spawned dating rumors in real life. In book-to-series adaptations, character modifications are common. Fans of Bridgerton will notice that characters like Marina Thompson (Ruby Barker) and Lord Archibald Featherington (Ben Miller) have more extended story arcs than in the novels. Simon’s pals, Will (Martins Imhangbe) and Alice Mondrich (Emma Naomi), who were not included in Quinn’s successful book series, were also introduced. Furthermore, despite the events taking place in 19th century London, Rhimes’ famous program has a fairly diverse cast. In the novels, Simon and his close family friend, Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh), are depicted as white instead of black. In Quinn’s novels, the Duke of Hastings is even characterized as having “icy blue” eyes. The inclusion of a diverse cast, which creator Chris Van Dusen claimed was done on purpose to appeal to today’s audiences, is a significant component of Netflix’s Bridgerton.


Then there’s difference in the Featheringtons. While the matriarch of the Featherington family (Polly Walker) is introduced as a widow in the book, Lord Featherington is included in the drama series (Ben Miller). He’s portrayed as a gambling addict who, in the first season’s end, appears to die.  


Simon and Daphne dispute over having children in both the novel and the series. While Daphne wants to create a family, Simon has promised his father that he will not produce an heir. Daphne soon discovered that Simon intentionally took measures to avoid getting her pregnant. In the Netflix adaption, she made sure to stay on top while they were intimate, despite Simons’ repeated requests to “wait.” The event has sparked debate about whether it qualifies as sexual assault. However, the book adopts a considerably more sinister tone. Daphne decided to push her husband into intercourse. This happened after the two had a dispute about Daphne finding his contraceptive technique for preventing pregnancy, which led to her refusing to have intercourse with him again. He retaliated by threatening to sexually abuse her and declaring that he “owns” her. Unlike The CW’s Gossip Girl adaptation, Netflix’s Bridgerton did not reveal the town gossip until the end of the season.


Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) was also revealed as Lady Whistledown at the season 1 finale. While that component is the same in both versions, Romancing Mister Bridgerton didn’t reveal this fact until the fourth book. While all of the changes are noticeable, they have not completely demolished its original story’s integrity. The adjustments do seem, however, to make the show more ‘socially acceptable’ or appropriate for younger audiences


The first season of Bridgerton caps off with a scene that seem be strange to those who are unfamiliar with the books: A fuzzy bumblebee moving up the windowsill takes the camera’s attention away from the young couple and their new baby. That bee is a nod to the Viscount Who Loved Me, the second novel in the Bridgerton trilogy, in which bees—yes, bees—play a tragic and scandalous part in bringing Anthony Bridgerton and his love interest together.


That’s all I can say without giving anything more away, but don’t worry. Unlike in one movie, the heroine does not abandon her boyfriend for a bee, and contrary to another adaptation, the male protagonist does not believe he is a bee either.