With its steamy montages and Regency-era balls set to an Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish violin covers, Bridgerton is pretty different from your typical period drama. The show also set itself apart with its diverse casting, including Black aristocratic characters in a genre that is often filled with white actors for the sake of "historical accuracy." Some social media trolls took issue with this fact, but actor Nicola Couglan's response to criticism of Bridgerton's diversity is a cheeky clapback with a very valid point.
Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington in the new Netflix show, pointed out the series' massive success since debuting on Dec. 25, 2020, despite what online haters might say. "You know the way some people were like, 'Diversity in period dramas doesn't work'....63 million households thought it did tho so," she tweeted on Jan. 5, sharing Netflix's announcement that Bridgerton is set to become the streamer's fifth-biggest original show launched so far.
"Remember people were trying to downvote the show on IMDB cos it was so diverse?" Couglan continued. "You can't downvote us being Netflix fifth biggest original release ever."
Unlike other historical projects that employs "colorblind casting" practices (heyy, Hamilton), race is not ignored in the world of Bridgerton. Instead, it's set in a 19th-century England in which a Black woman, Queen Charlotte (who, yes, was a real person), sits on the throne.
“It made me wonder what that could have looked like,” showrunner Chris Van Dusen told The New York Times. “Could she have used her power to elevate other people of color in society? Could she have given them titles and lands and dukedoms?”
As Lady Danbury tells Simon, the Duke of Hastings, in Season 1, Episode 4: "We were two separate societies divided by color until a king fell in love with one of us. Look at everything it is doing for us, allowing us to become. Love, Your Grace, conquers all."
Regé-Jean Page, who plays Simon, also commented on Bridgerton's diverse cast in a December 2020 interview with The Guardian: "This show is a glamorous, ambitious Cinderella fantasy of love and romance — I don't know why you wouldn't invite everyone to come and play in it, especially since we're serving a global audience on Netflix."
If the show's record viewership is any indication, audiences are definitely big fans of the inclusion Bridgerton provides.
Bridgerton Season 1 is on Netflix now.