Bridgerton is Netflix's latest big hit and has gained praise for its color-blind casting. Despite being set in 1700s England, the cast is filled with a diverse collection of talented stars, who bring the characters from Julia Quinn's novels to life. There were critics of the decision though, and star Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington, is having none of it.
Back on Tuesday, Netflix announced Bridgerton was "projected" to have viewers from over 63 million households in just the first four weeks since its release on Dec. 25. If that holds, Bridgerton would become the fifth-biggest original series launch on the streaming platform. "You know the way some people were like 'Diversity in period drama doesn't work'....63 million households thought it did tho so," Coughlin tweeted, alongside Netflix's announcement.
You know the way some people were like ‘Diversity in period drama doesn’t work’....63 million households thought it did tho so 💀 https://t.co/mQ2rXysacN— Nicola Coughlan (@nicolacoughlan) January 5, 2021
"Remember people were trying to downvote the show on IMDb cos it was so diverse?" Coughlin added in a follow-up tweet. "You can't downvote us being [Netflix's] fifth-biggest original release ever." The show's creator, Chris Van Dusen, also celebrated Bridgerton's early success on Twitter, thanking the cast and crew and Quinn. "No words! Happy 2021!"
One of the more criticized elements of the casting was the decision to have Black actress Golda Rosheuvel play Queen Charlotte, one of the few real-life characters in the series. There has long been a debate among historians about the possibility that Charlotte had African ancestry, based on portraits of her, reports CNN. "Many historians believe she had some African background," Quinn told The Times in December. "It's a highly debated point and we can't DNA test her so I don't think there'll ever be a definitive answer."
Quinn told PEOPLE that she did not write her characters as diverse, but she endorsed the show's idea to do something very different that helped it stand apart from other period dramas. "I'm Jewish and when I would read a book and one of the characters would be Jewish, I'd be like, 'Oh, that's me.' And it was very powerful," the author said. "And so now I feel like I'm able to start to extrapolate that and be like, 'You know what, everybody needs that.' "
Bridgerton is based on Quinn's novel series about the Bridgerton children, who are vying for marriages to secure their positions in Regency London society. They are played by Jonathan Bailey, Phoebe Dynevor, Florence Hunt, Claudia Jessie, Luke Newton, Luke Thompson, Will Tilston and Ruby Stokes. Other members of the ensemble cast include Adjoa Andoh, Lorraine Ashbourne, Ruby Baker, Sabrina Bartlett, Harriet Cains, Bessie Carter, Nicola Coughlan, Ben Miller, Rege-Jean Page, and Polly Walker. Julie Andrews serves as the narrator and the author of the society newsletter every character obsessively reads. All eight episodes of the show's first season are now available.