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Home Society Bridgerton showrunner Jess Brownell: ‘This is the season of the underdog’

Bridgerton showrunner Jess Brownell: ‘This is the season of the underdog’

by News Room
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His promotion came over the phone. On a Saturday in 2021, writer and producer Jess Brownell got a call at home in Los Angeles from her boss, Shonda Rhimes, who doesn’t usually bother her employees on weekends. Brownell was equally concerned, but the question was whether he wanted to become a showrunner. Factor: Bridgerton: one of Netflix’s most popular titles with over 100 million viewers.

Rhimes was looking for someone to watch the third and fourth seasons Bridgerton externalize. Brownell said yes — but also immediately called her therapist. The highest position inside Bridgerton Besides being a coveted role, it’s also quite a scary role. The series is a mammoth undertaking. A romantic wig drama shot on gigantic sets in historic locations around the UK. There are dozens of actors in the main roles and a make-up department of hundreds of employees. The most impressive wig of this third season (with the carousel of moving swans) took two years to complete.

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Al sinds Grey’s anatomyShonda Rhimes’ production company, Shondaland, is considered a hit factory and is now the longest running medical TV drama of all time with 21 seasons. Also Private reception (more doctors), Scandal (a drama about a “fixer” in Washington), How to get away with murder (with Viola Davis) and the fireman series position 19 became an audience favorite on the ABC channel. In 2017, Rhimes moved to Netflix for an astronomical amount of money, where she, as the undisputed champion of soapy, sexy and comprehensive TV drama, can devote her time to passion projects in various genres. This has resulted in three titles so far: Bridgerton (2020), from the prequel Queen Charlotte (2023) in Anna’s invention (2022), about a notorious con man who rose to the top of New York business.

Jess Brownell is one of a select group of collaborators who have appeared on every new Shondaland project for years. Before we started our Zoom conversation, a PR woman gently asked me not to ask what it’s like to enter the “newbie” world. Bridgerton step inside; Brownell was involved from the beginning. He likes to watch from his apartment in London, where he moved with his family for a lifetime of work.

“In 2008, I had the opportunity to apply for a job at Shondaland,” he says. “I was only three months out of college and I was hired as an assistant to Betsy Beers (Rhimes’ regular production partner). Shondaland was still small and Betsy was in charge of any new projects that came up. My main job was getting coffee and cleaning the office, but I also had the opportunity to read hundreds of scripts that outside writers posted to Shondaland hoping to land a job Grey’s anatomy. Some of these scripts inspired me, others made me think: I can do better. It motivates you to take a risk.

“Little by little, I got more production tasks, and in 2012 I became a researcher Scandal: I sat at a desk in the back of the writers’ room and answered all of the writers’ political background questions. Now, I’m not qualified for that – I studied screenwriting – but luckily I can google well. The conversations in that room, about stories and psychology and what motivates people—I thought this was the coolest job in the world. I started it myself in my spare time Scandal-write and send scripts; one made my boss happy. That’s how I became a writer.

“I approach the showrunner’s work first and foremost as a writer. It all starts with the script; once it’s in place, I control who gets hired, all costume and make-up decisions, every prop. I have a very visual sense of what I write, thanks to my tropical years Scandal in To graywhere we once had to do 22 episodes per season, I also know what’s practically possible and how to stay within budget.”

A macho romantic

Bridgerton based on author Julia Quinn’s historical romance books about the noble Bridgerton family. Shonda Rhimes bought the rights after devouring all eight books in her sickbed. With Julia Quinn, all eight Bridgerton kids nicely find their great loves one by one, but Shondaland now enjoys enough creative freedom to play the necessary games with fan expectations: Season 3 is about Colin, not another chick, Benedict the third, who develops certain feelings for Penelope Featherington, a wallflower who distributes a gossip magazine among high society under the pseudonym “Lady Whistledown”.

This is “the season of the underdog,” says Brownell, who took the opportunity to expand on two already well-known, beloved characters and place them in a comedy-style plot inspired by films such as Unaware in Notting Hill. Penelope and Colin are obvious opposites: she prefers to disappear when she feels uncomfortable, while he becomes outgoing, he flirts with great success and turns into a kind of macho romantic.

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The fans

Brownell: “Ego and insecurity, I think, are two sides of the same coin. When we feel insecure, we withdraw, like Penelope, or we develop an alter ego with the impression of confidence, like Colin. It’s not real, it’s a show. He’s tired of hanging around and to be only the third son. Penelope sees through his actions and writes that he is no longer himself; Of course, the reason why he is angry about it is that his true nature is more than a lover’s son.”

“Society is made up entirely of other people’s judgments,” Penelope tells Colin in episode two. As for the casting Bridgerton than being a haven for inclusivity, oppressive social control is really 19th century. Still, Brownell sees a necessary similarity with modern times: “We are certainly freer now. But the way people sell their confidence on social media is quite similar to Colin. Everyone presents their own “highlight” where we appear richer, happier, more well-travelled, more social than we really are. Colin’s bravery is reminiscent of an influencer posing in front of a fake backdrop of some gorgeous location while actually sitting at home in his pajamas and thinking.

of Bridgertonfans are very vocal online: a lively culture of reviews, jokes and dream couples flourishes. Brownell tries to keep his distance. “I am not active on social media myself. I have ethical objections to this social pressure and want no part of it. When writing, I also didn’t want to influence other people’s opinions, because no one agrees with each other. I still can’t please everyone. But now that we’ve premiered, I sometimes look at my anonymous TikTok account and see how excited people are reacting to the transportation scene (where Colin makes love to Penelope for the first time). It makes it all worth it.”




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