Bridgerton showrunner reveals Penelope’s makeover scene was inspired by iconic Nineties film

‘We needed to do something different,’ Jess Brownell said

Lydia Spencer-Elliott
Friday 17 May 2024 12:37 BST
Bridgerton Season 3: Sneak Peek

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A scene from the third season of Bridgerton was directly inspired by a much loved nineties romantic comedy, starring Rachael Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze Jr.

In the new season of the Netflix regency drama, Nicola Coughlan’s character Penelope Featherington struggles to talk to suitors at high society balls designed to help her find her future husband.

Penelope eventually has a makeover that is aimed to boost her confidence, a scene Bridgerton showrunner Jess Brownell has said is a reference to the film She’s All That.

In She’s All That, Laney Boggs (played by Cook) comes downstairs with a brand new glamorous look that brings her increased romantic attention and more friends.

Brownell told First for Women, “She’s taken off her glasses, she’s put on a red dress and suddenly she’s instantly popular and beautiful.”

The showrunner acknowledged this scene structure where beauty automatically leads to acceptance may not appeal to modern audiences.

“We needed to do something different with it,” she said. “So, Pen does have her makeover…but it doesn’t necessarily have the impact she thought it would.”

Coughlan as Penelope in ‘Bridgerton'
Coughlan as Penelope in ‘Bridgerton' (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

Brownell continued: “The change that needs to happen is much more about her confine than it is about her external impression.”

When Penelope struggles to speak to suitors, her friend and eventual romantic interest Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) intervenes and teaches her various way to impress men.

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Speaking to Shondaland, Brownell said Penelope “is a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis” during season three.

As well as drawing inspiration from She’s All That, the showrunner added she had also been inspired by other films she’d watched as a teenager, including 10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless.

It comes after Penelope Featherington actor Nicola Coughlan revealed she’d requested to have more nude scenes in the third season of Bridgerton.

Coughlan and Claudia Jessie in season 2 of ‘Bridgerton’
Coughlan and Claudia Jessie in season 2 of ‘Bridgerton’ (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

The star opted to include shots without clothes after trolls relentlessly made comments about her body online leading up to filming.

She told Stylist that one particular scene in which she is “very naked on camera” was designed to be the “biggest f*** you” to all of the “conversation surrounding my body” online.

“I felt beautiful in the moment, and I thought, ‘When I’m 80, I want to look back on this and remember how f***ing hot I looked,” she said.

Coughlan and Luke Newton in ‘Bridgerton’
Coughlan and Luke Newton in ‘Bridgerton’ (Netflix)

In 2022, Coughlan posted a message on Instagram asking her fans to stop sharing their opinions about her body.

“Most people are being nice and not trying to be offensive but I am just one real-life human being and it’s really hard to take the weight of thousands of opinions on how you look being sent directly to you every day,” she wrote.

“If you have an opinion about me that’s OK, I understand I’m on TV and that people will have things to think and say but I beg you not to send it to me directly.”

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