The decision for Bridgerton not to follow the exact order of Julia Quinn‘s book series certainly hasn’t been favored by all.
The historical drama, which premiered in 2020, focuses on the members of the wealthy Bridgerton family as they search for love in 19th century London. Season 1 focused on Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), who were the central couple in the first book, The Duke and I.
Season 2 took inspiration from the second novel, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which shows Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) finding love with Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley). Readers were expecting the next season to pick up with Benedict Bridgerton (Luke Thompson) since the third novel, An Offer from a Gentleman, is about his connection with newcomer Sophie.
The creative team behind Bridgerton, however, had other plans. In May 2022, Netflix confirmed that Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) would be the leads of the third season, which is based on Quinn’s book Romancing Mister Bridgerton.
Showrunner Jess Brownell, who took over for creator Chris Van Dusen, defended the choice to develop Benedict further before making him the lead.
“I really feel like it’s Colin and Penelope’s time. Because we’ve been watching both of these actors on our screens since season 1, we’ve already invested in them a little bit. We know who they are as people,” she told Variety that same month. “I feel like, especially in the last season, there are these moments of tension between them where it’s like, Colin walks up to the line of almost realizing that Penelope has feelings for him but doesn’t quite get there. Instead of treading water on that dynamic, we wanted to push it into their season. It really felt like the perfect moment to tee it up.”
Not all Bridgerton viewers were thrilled by the storytelling shakeup. Before season 3 premiered on Netflix in 2024, fans questioned whether Benedict would be pushed back more than one season due to the increased focus on Eloise Bridgerton‘s (Claudia Jessie) dating life.
Keep scrolling for everything the Bridgerton cast and crew has said about going out of order on screen:
Making Up Their Own Rules
Executive producer Shonda Rhimes confirmed in March 2022 that the show won’t stick to the book order, telling Entertainment Tonight, “There’s eight Bridgerton siblings, so we’re planning on following each one of the siblings’ romantic stories. We’re not necessarily going in order but we are going to be seeing each of the siblings and their stories.”
Two months later, Netflix announced Colin as the season three lead, which meant Benedict was skipped over.
Mixing Up the Order
“Well, we already differ from the books a little bit because we’re an ensemble show. The books really focus on one romantic pair at a time and maybe the siblings have a little cameo here and there but they don’t have full stories,” Brownell told Variety in May 2022 about not being in a rush to explore Benedict’s love story.
The showrunner reassured fans that Benedict would be a “vital part” of season 3.
Defending the Show
After a fan argued that Eloise should be the focus of the third season, Coughlan took to social media to offer her perspective.
“Loads of people get mad at me for things Penelope did, but I really didn’t do them because it’s a script and I see the words and do acting. Please be nice to me,” she wrote via Instagram Story in October 2022. “I will never have any say over storylines, what order stories are going in, what’s on posters, who’s on posters, who’s doing what press. That’s, like, way beyond my skill set.”
Coughlan concluded: “I’m there to do the acting and, you know, I don’t have a choice in most things. I wouldn’t be like, ‘This my best hair look. I mean, I was meant to look like that and Lou [Bannell] who did this hair and makeup, I love you. But, I was meant to look like a sad poodle, so I looked like a sad poodle.”
Taking Their Time
While previewing season 3, Brownell stood by the choice to fast track Penelope and Colin‘s on screen romance.
“[We have] really [been] getting to know Pen and Colin. We’ve been watching Pen’s crush and seeing how oblivious Colin is to it. That’s a dynamic that you can only play out for so long before something has to change,” she noted to Entertainment Weekly in December 2023. “This really felt like the right time to lean into what’s been set up with them. On the Benedict side, he’s such a fun character and such a fan favorite that we are really excited to play with him for a little bit more and let him have more fun before he settles down.”