Bridgerton has swept Netflix viewers off their feet
Bridgerton was the diamond of Netflix’s holiday season. According to the streamer, the romantic, Regency-era series—created by Chris Van Dusen and produced by Shonda Rhimes, who has a multimillion-dollar Netflix deal—was a ratings hit. It’s projected that about 63 million households will have viewed the show in the four weeks since its Christmas Day release, making it one of the streamer’s biggest original-series launches ever. The show also nabbed the top spot on Netflix’s top 10 ranking in 76 countries.
Netflix’s massive streaming numbers come with a caveat, however. The streamer bases its figures on the number of subscribers who watch at least two minutes of a piece of content, an amount of time the company has determined to be “long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.” That metric has resulted in big, bold ratings numbers that have to be taken with a grain of salt.
Still: Based on the way Bridgerton has captured the zeitgeist, it’s clear this bodice ripper is a hit for the streamer. The soapy, sumptuously designed show revolves around Regency London’s high society during the party-filled courting season, homing in on young debutante Daphne Bridgerton and her blossoming romance with the Duke of Hastings. All of the drama is secretly observed by Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), a proto-Gossip Girl who writes about the town’s scandals in her newsletter.
Bridgerton is the first series to be released under the Shondaland banner since Rhimes inked her reported $150 million deal with the streaming service. The power player, who created Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and more, is part of the small wave of mega TV creators who left network TV in favor of Netflix and the boundless creative freedom it offered—an exclusive cohort that also includes Ryan Murphy, who signed a reported $300 million deal, and Kenya Barris, who signed a reported $100 million deal.
Murphy has already released several projects with Netflix, including the shows Ratched and Hollywood, as well as the recently released musical adaptation The Prom. All three projects have earned lackluster critical reviews, prompting reassessments of his lucrative deal; ratings-wise, only Ratched has apparently come close to Bridgerton’s numbers, with Netflix claiming that in its first 28 days, 48 million households tuned in to the Sarah Paulson–led series about the cruel nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Barris, meanwhile, has only released one series, the autofictional #blackAF, which yielded mild reviews.
Bridgerton, by comparison, appears to be an instant success, giving Rhimes a leg up in the luxe, niche realm of supercreators with Netflix deals. But since the Regency romp was created by Van Dusen, the real test of her Netflix reign will be Inventing Anna, a series created by Rhimes about criminally convicted grifter Anna Delvey.
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