Dearest readers, Have you binge-watched Bridgerton yet?
If you haven't, what are you waiting for? For the rest of you who devoured all eight episodes of the Netflix series—recently nominated for multiple MTV Movie & TV Awards—after its Dec. 25, 2020 premiere and are currently contemplating what to do with the rest of your lives, the answer is...perhaps it's time for a rewatch. But this time, with an insider's guide to all the secrets and Easter eggs that you missed in the hit historical romance drama.
Produced by Shonda Rhimes' production company Shondaland and based on a book series written by Julia Quinn, the show is set in the early 19th century Regency London and has been celebrated for its diverse cast, intriguing story lines, elaborate sets and costumes, and, oh yeah, lots of sex scenes. Meet your new boyfriend, Regé-Jean Page, who plays the dashing Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, in the debut season (but sadly, will not reprise his role in season two).
And while it is a period drama, Bridgerton incorporates elements from today's pop culture, weaving in instrumental versions of songs from Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, and also pays tribute to styles made famous by the likes of Beyoncé.
In fact, Bridgerton is so popular that Netflix and Shondaland have announced plans for a limited prequel series centered around a young Queen Charlotte (played by Golda Rosheuvel in the original series), which will also include younger versions of Violet Bridgerton and Lady Danbury (played in the original drama by Ruth Gemmell and Adjoa Andoh, respectively).
Meanwhile, Bridgerton is nominated in three categories at the 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards, including Best Show. The ceremony airs in two parts on Sunday, May 16 and Monday, May 17, both at 9 p.m. ET.
While we wait for season two, keep scrolling for 15 secrets you didn't know about Bridgerton:
1. Beyoncé Helped Inspire Queen Charlotte's Look
Produced by Shonda Rhimes, the multitalented mastermind behind shows like Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, Bridgerton has been celebrated for its diverse casting. For instance, on the show, Guyanese-British actress Golda Rosheuvel plays Queen Charlotte of England, who was a real person. Some historians believe the wife of King George III was a descendant of a Portuguese royal family with African ancestry, according to PBS.
"When I researched Queen Charlotte and found out that she was of African descent, it gave me so much more scope to create her beautiful looks," the show's makeup and hair designer Marc Pilcher told Vogue. "I used the silhouettes of the period but in a celebration of her ethnicity, I used locks, braids and Afro-textured styles. Her giant Afro was in the shape of a Gainsborough wig, but influenced by Beyoncé as Foxxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers in Goldmember."
Pilcher echoed his comments to Essence, saying, "I was picking through some images and then I saw Beyoncé Knowles in Austin Powers Goldmember and that's when I thought, 'That's what I want.' I wanted the biggest afro someone had ever seen. That wig in particular was actually four or five wigs all placed together. So we had the wigs for the ringlets and then the we bought afros and then straightened them out and reset them on curls sticks and brushed them through so that we would get the best volume of afro, then sewed them on top of each other just to get that beautiful shape."
2. Lady Danbury Helped Create Her Signature Look
"Lady Danbury has a walking cane with her at all times," actress Adjoa Andoh, who plays Lady Danbury, told New African magazine. "If you look at Regency men of that period, they would always have a cane and a hat. For me, the fact that she's a widow meant that I wanted her to embody some of the masculine within her feminine. In a way to reflect the particular position of wealth and power that she had within a society that didn't allow a woman a huge amount of freedom. So, I requested a hat, I love a hat!"
3. Elizabeth Taylor Helped Inspire Lady Featherington's Colorful Style
"At the first fitting of Lady Featherington (Polly Walker), I noticed that her outfits were heavily influenced by the 1950s, so rather than giving her straightforward Regency hair and makeup, I looked at pictures of Elizabeth Taylor and Deborah Kerr," Pilcher told Vogue, "and amalgamated a 1950s look with a Regency silhouette."
4. Eloise and Penelope Are Friends in Real Life
Claudia Jessie, who plays Eloise Bridgerton, and Nicola Coughlan, who plays her pal Penelope Featherington, are "friends in real life," according to showrunner Chris Van Dusen.
"In the writers' room, we refer to them as PenEloise," he told Screenrant. "That's slowly becoming a thing, as the fans of the books tweet and are on Instagram. I think they're using that hashtag a lot."
He added, "When we saw them, we immediately knew that was Penelope and that was Eloise Bridgerton. I think we have something special with them."
5. Simon Basset's Tribute to His Late Mother
Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, always wears a diamond and emerald-encrusted enamel brooch on his lapel. It belonged to his late mother, who died just after giving birth to him, as seen in a flashback on the show.
6. Butt First, Some Makeup
Jonathan Bailey, who plays Anthony Bridgerton, the family's eldest son, had to have makeup applied to his butt for a sex scene.
"There is a moment where they go, 'Can we lower the britches?' And when I lowered the britches for the first time, they went, 'Can we call in makeup?'" he said on the British TV show Lorraine. "It was just to de-shine the body."
7. Daphne's Wardrobe Is Huge
"I have 93 dresses," Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne, told Glamour. "That's just mad! They're all made from scratch and hand-embroidered. And there's six people making just Daphne's dresses.
8. The Reason Daphne Wears Blue
"Daphne always wore blue, that was her favorite color in the beginning, in her innocence stage," costume designer Ellen Mirojnick told Buzzfeed. "Her colors changed as she evolved and as she became the Duchess, a married woman with her own ideas. We actually deepened the palette a little bit, made it a little dustier, a bit richer and deeper."
9. The Sex Scenes Were "Heavily Choreographed"
On Bridgerton, notably in season one's episode No. 6, Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page) get it on in pretty much every room in his house. An intimacy coordinator worked with the pair and other cast members for nude and sex scenes, which showrunner Chris Van Dusen said were choreographed.
"It was all so that the cast would feel comfortable, and we all we really left it in their hands to take the scenes for as far as they wanted to take them," he told E! News. "Those scenes were heavily choreographed, much like an action sequence, like 'Your hand goes here, your leg goes there.' They were all really, really rehearsed."
Dynevor told E! News. "I feel really proud of those scenes, honestly. We worked really hard at making them feel real. I was very safe. I felt very safe with Regé and an intimacy coordinator. We blocked them out like they were intricate stunts."
10. About That Controversial Sex Scene...
In one sex scene, Daphne, having realized she had misinterpreted her husband Simon's comments about fathering children and having recently learned how babies are conceived, takes control of the situation to try to get what she wants. Every aesthetic detail in that controversial moment was planned, and the actress who plays the duchess, Phoebe Dynevor, had a strong say in her character's portrayal.
"We were very clear that there needed to be a show of power, so it's Daphne who takes her own hair out of the braids, and it's Daphne who pushes him away so he can see her," Lizzy Talbot, Bridgerton's intimacy coordinator, told Vulture. "Phoebe wanted to remove her hair from the braids herself, because it's an empowering moment and so much is tied up in women's hair at that time. That's a very definitive moment that isn't necessarily rooted in the sexual act, but it is paving the way for it."
11. Size Matters
Daphne and Simon spent quite a bit of time in, er, bed (and other places if a bed is unavailable at that opportune moments). The crew faced the challenge of making sure actor Regé-Jean Page, who is believed to be 5'11" tall, did not fall off the reduced-sized Regency beds!
"One of the interesting things about Bridgerton was that so many scenes we did involving beds were on beds of Regency size," Talbot told Vulture. "That was honestly one of our biggest challenges. Reǵe being as tall as he is, is not really suited to a Regency-sized bed, lengthwise or even widthwise when there's two people on it. So we had to work really hard to make sure that if there's ever any rolling action—which happens quite a lot in these scenes—that they didn't accidentally roll off the bed."
She added, "That was a real issue! On nearly every bed that we had."
12. Let's Get Wet
The cathartic rained out party scene that took place at the Hastings' courtyard was actually filmed indoors on a sound stage, which allowed the crew to control the volume and temperature of the water, and also allowed it to drain properly without flooding the set.
"We had a huge tank underneath to collect the water, because you can't just rain in a studio and have it just go everywhere. It's got to be properly collected," set director Gina Cromwell told Buzzfeed. "So there was an enormous range of pipes and things going on. I mean, from my point of view, I was just involved with making sure that there were flowers, always flowers, and that there was food and pretty things like that. But I know that from the point of view of the audience, they were (hopefully) fooled into thinking that it was actually an outside set."
13. Blast From Another Past
The onscreen version of Daphne's rival Cressida (played by Jessica Madsen), was based on the snobby Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie. "Pretty on the outside," the show's makeup and hair designer Marc Pilcher told Vogue, "but mean on the inside."
14. Marina Always Keeps an Eye on Her Lover
On Bridgerton, Marina Thompson (Ruby Barker) arrives at the Featherington's home secretly pregnant with her and her lover's child. She typically wears a "lover's eye" pendant.
"That's just to symbolize that she has a lover that nobody knows," Buzzfeed quoted John Glaser, one of the show's costume designers, as saying. "Usually, the miniatures were up to the person, so people knew who they were, but they wouldn't display them. She has an eye. So she's the only one who knows who her lover is."
15. Filming That Big Reveal Was an Actual Secret Mission
On the season one finale, the identity of gossip newsletter writer Lady Whistledown is finally revealed.
"It was so much fun," Nicole Coughlan, aka Penelope, told Variety. "We had to film that in the middle of COVID. I had to be super, super secret. I had to be flown over from Ireland, and tested and tested and tested, and do the fitting. It was hyper secret; I couldn't let anyone know I was there or what was going on. But it was so much fun to film that."
That pivotal scene, the actress said, was the only Bridgerton scene filmed during the COVID era. She explained that season one wrapped at the end of February, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked if there will be a second season, Coughlan said, "We all really hope [so]. It's a real joy to make and the response has been beyond our wildest dreams."
Watch Daily Pop weekdays at 11 a.m., only on E!.