Netflix renews Regency hit Bridgerton for second season

Bridgerton is one of Netflix's most popular original series launches. PHOTO: NETFLIX

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Netflix's buzzy Regency romance Bridgerton has been renewed for a second season, the streaming giant said on Thursday (Jan 21).

From Grey's Anatomy (2005 to present) creator Shonda Rhimes, the series puts a modern twist on the books about an upper-class family in early 19th-century England, introducing colour-blind casting and strong feminist themes.

One of Netflix's most popular original series launches, it was on course to be watched by more than 63 million households in the four weeks from its Christmas Day premiere, the platform said.

"Dearest Readers, the ton are abuzz with the latest gossip, and so it is my honour to impart to you: Bridgerton shall officially return for a second season," read a message on the show's social media accounts, in the style of its narrator Lady Whistledown.

The first season followed Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) as she made her debut in Regency London, seeking a husband. Julia Quinn's Bridgerton romance novel series featured a different sibling in each book.

Production will resume in spring, and the second season will focus on the "romantic activities" of Daphne's brother Lord Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey). The show has a 90 per cent "fresh" rating from critics on aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

It is the first to be released under Rhimes' massive content deal with Netflix, reportedly worth US$150 million (S$199 million) and announced some 40 months ago.

The story begins in 1813 in England, under the regency of the Prince of Wales, during a period of cultural ferment marked by writers such as Jane Austen and Mary Shelley.

Unlike popular period drama series such as Downton Abbey (2010 to 2015), Bridgerton takes liberties with historical accuracy in order to appeal to modern audiences.

While costumes and set are largely faithful to their era, the characters' behaviour, language and interests are more familiar to 21st-century viewers.

For instance, a chamber orchestra plays Thank U, Next, the 2018 hit by pop superstar Ariana Grande, at the opening of a ball.

Lady Whistledown's mysterious and all-knowing narration, voiced by actress Julie Andrews, is reminiscent of modern New York-set smash TV series Gossip Girl (2007 to 2012).

The show also cast several black actors in high-society roles, despite the fact slavery was abolished in England only in 1833 and racism was rife at the beginning of the 19th century.

Rhimes, known for casting artists and professionals from diverse backgrounds in her projects, is putting the finish touches on her next Netflix series Inventing Anna.

Based on a magazine article, it will dramatise the incredible true story of a Russian-born fraudster who pretended to be a wealthy German heiress in order to infiltrate New York City society.

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