Bridgerton producer Shonda Rhimes knows that fans were heartbroken to hear that the hunky Regé-Jean Page wouldn't be reprising his role as Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, for season 2 — but she "doesn't blame him" for his departure.
"Rightfully, he said, ‘I signed up to do this one lovely story, this closed-ended storyline. I’m good!'" she explained to Variety. "And I don’t blame him for that. I think that he was really smart to leave the perfection as the perfection."
The star acknowledged that "people’s attachment to couples is real," but she feels that audiences will soon grown fond of the romance that's at the center of season 2: the relationship between Daphne Bridgerton's brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) and his love interest Kate Sharma (Ashley Simone).
"I think there’s a powerful, interesting, romantic couple at the heart of it. They’re an incredibly interesting and exciting pair. I like to watch them," the Grey's Anatomy creator shared. "Our goal, if we do our job correctly, is you are going to be as invested and excited by that couple as you were by the couple of season 1."
Rhimes' decision to leave Daphne and Simon's marriage follows the outline of Julia Quinn's novels, which the show is based on.
"Every season we’re telling a different romance story of a different couple," she explained. "There are eight Bridgerton siblings, and as far as I’m concerned, there are eight Bridgerton seasons. And maybe more."
The Emmy-nominated showrunner first came upon the novels while stocking up on material to read for a vacation, and she instantly fell in love.
"The Bridgerton books are witty — they’re witty and they’re funny, and they have sort of a take on feminist romance that I hadn’t really seen before," she noted. "I could feel the series within them. If I could see myself in the character of Daphne Bridgerton, then almost anybody could see themselves in those characters. And it felt very universal to me in a way that felt modern."
At the moment, Netflix has given the green light for a third and fourth season, and earlier this year, it was announced that the backstory of the character Queen Charlotte will be explored in an upcoming spinoff show.
"Many viewers had never known the story of Queen Charlotte before Bridgerton brought her to the world, and I'm thrilled this new series will further expand her story and the world of Bridgerton," Neflix's Head of Global TV Batela Bajaria shared. "Shonda and her team are thoughtfully building out the Bridgerton universe so they can keep delivering for the fans with the same quality and style they love. And by planning and prepping all the upcoming seasons now, we also hope to keep up a pace that will keep even the most insatiable viewers totally fulfilled."