Based on Julia Quinn’s series of historical romance novels, the Netflix series is set in Regency-era England and follows the young men and women of London’s high society as they enter the marriage market for the first time.
However, unlike many period dramas, Bridgerton features a racially diverse cast of actors, including British-Zimbabwean actor Regé-Jean Page as the show’s romantic lead, the Duke of Hastings.
Responding to news that Bridgerton has been watched by 63 million households since it debuted on Christmas Day, Coughlan – who stars as Penelope Featherington – celebrated the show’s success while praising its cast.
“You know the way some people were like ‘Diversity in period drama doesn’t work’.... 63 million households thought it did tho so [sic],” the Derry Girls actor tweeted.
“Remember people were trying to downvote the show on IMDb cos it was so diverse? You can’t downvote us being Netflix fifth biggest original release ever.”
The casting of non-white actors in Bridgerton is influenced by a theory supported by some historians that the real-life Queen Charlotte (played by Golda Rosheuvel) was mixed-race.
Speaking to The Independent, showrunner Chris Van Dusen explained: “That idea really resonated with me because it made me wonder what could that really look like and what could Queen Charlotte have done?
“Could she have used her power to elevate other people of colour in society, could she have given them lands and titles and dukedoms? That’s really where our particular Duke of Hastings, Simon, came to be.”
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