Season 1 of Netflix’s Bridgerton premiered on December 25, 2020, and the show has already proven to be an enormous hit. The series, based on the Bridgerton books by author Julia Quinn, follows Daphne Bridgerton’s (played by Phoebe Dynevor) romance with Duke Simon Hastings (played by Regé-Jean Page). Simon, seeking to avoid marriage minded mothers, proposes that he and Daphne enter into a fake relationship that soon becomes all too real. Though the series remains true to its origins in many ways, there are some key differences that set it apart from the source material. Be aware that this article will contain spoilers for both the book and Netflix series.
Netflix Added New Characters To The Series
Several new characters were introduced in the Netflix series who didn’t exist on the pages of the Bridgerton book series.
Though she obviously exists in the books, somewhere in the background, the Queen was not part of any of the events in the series. In the Netflix series, Queen Charlotte (played by Golda Rosheuvel) plays a central role in much of the onscreen drama. Despite her meddling ways, and prideful nature, however, she’s shown to have a soft spot when it comes to love, and a vulnerability when it comes to her husband, the Mad King George.
Prince Frederick of Prussia
Prince Frederick of Prussia (played by Freddie Stroma) is another newly introduced character. He’s a prominent suitor for Daphne and, compared to all the other men who pursue her, is portrayed as kind, attentive, and not a bad choice at all. Though Daphne admits that a life with him would be a happy one, she can’t help but choose Simon instead.
Finally, there’s the character Will Mondrich (played by Martins Imhangbe), a boxer who often spars with Simon in his spare time. Mondrich often acts as something of an advisor and friend to Simon when he’s not boxing in exhibition matches.
The Bridgerton Siblings Are More Present In The Show
Daphne’s siblings in the book were largely background roles, with the exception of Athony Bridgerton. In the Netflix series, the siblings came alive and were much more fleshed out and had storylines of their own. Thought it is important to note that each book in the Bridgerton series follows one of the siblings, so it follows that more details about the alphabetically named siblings will be revealed in later seasons of the show.
Played by Jonathan Bailey, Anthony Bridgerton is the first to learn about Daphne and Simon’s fake relationship, but he’s never told in the Netflix series. He’s also much more involved in Daphne’s affairs in the show, when he’s not being distracted by his mistress, opera singer Siena Rosso (played by Sabrina Bartlett).
The second Bridgerton son, Benedict (played by Luke Thompson), is hardly mentioned in the first book. He acts as Anthony’s second in the duel with Simon, but plays no other role. In the Netflix series, he falls in with a crowd of hedonistic artists. He also befriends a painter who is revealed to be in a gay relationship with another man.
In the books, Colin Bridgerton (played by Luke Newton) is depicted as something of a wanderer and is only in London in between jaunts around Europe. In the Netflix series, he falls in love with Marina Thompson (played by Ruby Barker), a distant cousin of the Featheringtons. He’s prepared to settle down with her and proposes, but the relationship is short-lived after he, and the rest of London, discovers Marina’s deception.
For the most part, Eloise Bridgerton (played by Claudia Jessie) is a background character in the first Bridgerton book. She’s portrayed as the chatty younger sister. On the screen, she expresses her dissatisfaction with her lot in life, bemoaning the fact that all that is expected of her is to be a mother and wife. She’s also interested in unmasking Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews). In the fourth book in the series, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, she does some sleuthing to discover the gossip sheet author’s identity, but she’s not very focused on the task. In the new iteration, she’s successful at guessing the identity.
Nigel Berbrooke Isn’t As Villainous In The Books
Here’s where we see the biggest change of character. Nigel Berbrooke (played by Jamie Beamish) is substantially younger in the books, closer to Daphne’s age. He’s more bumbling and stupid and falls in love with Daphne because she’s nice to him. As soon as Simon and Daphne begin their fake courtship, he backs off.
Netflix Berbrooke is much more villainous. He corners Daphne in a garden, demanding she make good on her brother’s promise to wed him. After he’s rejected again, he threatens her family, telling them he’ll let slip that she was alone in the garden with him. As a result, the Bridgertons snoop around his life and find out he got a maid pregnant and sent her and the baby off without doing anything to provide for them. His bad deeds are reported by Lady Whistledown, ruining his reputation and causing him to flee London.
Marina’s Story Is Much Different In The Books
Marina Thompson first appears in book 5 of the Bridgerton series, To Sir Philip With Love. In the book, she is the late wife of Sir Philip Crane (played by Chris Fulton on the show). She attempts suicide in the book, which doesn’t work, but eventually dies of a fever after she attempted to drown herself in a pond.
In the Netflix series, she is described as a distant cousin of the Featheringtons and spends the season with them. In the books, she is a distant cousin of the Bridgertons. Soon after her arrival in London, it is discovered that she’s pregnant and her hosts then scramble to find her a husband before it’s found out by anyone else and she, and the Featheringtons by association, are ruined. The Netflix version of Marina gives her much more depth. In the books, she is merely a tragic figure, a woman who obviously suffers from a deep depression, but readers were only told her story from the point of view of others.
Lady Whistledown Is Revealed Much Sooner In The Netflix Series
At the end of the first season, Penelope Featherington (played by Nicola Coughlan) is revealed to be the mysterious Lady Whistledown. She’s mostly a side note in the book and, other than occasionally being insulted and being called Eloise’s best friend, she has no presence. The reveal doesn’t happen in the book series until book 4, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton.
The Show’s Controversial Sex Scene Is Even More Disturbing In The Books
While the book touches on a bit of female empowerment, it’s essentially just a run-of-the-mill regency romance novel with plucky heroines. The feminism is much more evident in the Netflix series. Despite that, there’s one controversial sex scene that troubled both readers of the series and viewers of the show.
In the book, Daphne learns that Simon is purposefully preventing her pregnancy by pulling out before completion. In her fury, she bans him from her bed and refuses to sleep with him, leading to an ugly fight where Simon essentially threatens to rape her, though he ultimately leaves her alone. Later, he comes to her room drunk and, while he is half-asleep, Daphne has her way with him.
In the Netflix version, Daphne learns of Simon’s deceit and soon afterwards initiates sex with him. Using her position on top of him, she prevents him from his usual method of safe sex. Simon tells her, twice, to wait, but she disregards his words and forces him to complete the act, very much against his will.
Despite the differences, the show does justice to its source material, making it no surprise it quickly became Netflix’s top five debuts of all time. According to its creator Chris Van Dusen in an interview with Esquire, he wanted to create a period piece that pushes the envelope, and it’s safe to say – mission accomplished.