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'Bridgerton' star Nicola Coughlan claps back at critics of the show's diversity

The show, which debuted on December 25, is projected to be viewed by over 63 million households in four weeks.
/ Source: TODAY

Nicola Coughlan, who portrays Penelope Featherington on “Bridgerton,” recently shut down critics who had something to say about the show’s diverse casting in a period piece.

On Monday, Jan. 4, Netflix announced that the show is set to become the streaming platform’s fifth-biggest original series to date following its release on Dec. 25.

Nicola Coughlan
Nicola Coughlan attends the Pokemon Detective Pikachu Pop-up at Covent Garden on May 02, 2019 in London, England.John Phillips / Getty Images

“In its first four weeks, Bridgerton is projected to court more than 63 million households, which would make it Netflix's fifth biggest original series launched to date,” the statement on Twitter read.

Coughlan, 34, quote-tweeted the announcement to celebrate the show’s success while adding her own thoughts to the news to call out the internet trolls who criticized its casting.

“You know the way some people were like ‘Diversity in period drama doesn’t work’....63 million households thought it did tho so 💀” she wrote.

The “Derry Girls” actor added, “Remember people were trying to downvote the show on IMDB cos it was so diverse? You can’t downvote us being Netflix fifth biggest original release ever.”

“Bridgerton” is the most recent project from "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" creator, Shonda Rhimes, following her 2017 multi-year development deal with Netflix. The show is a Regency-era romantic drama based on the popular books series of the same name.

In past period pieces, casts have historically lacked diversity when they’re translated to film and television. Rhimes along with producer, Chris Van Dusen, set out to change that with this series. The showrunner, who previously worked with Rhimes as the co-executive producer for "Scandal," spoke to the New York Times last month and explained that colorblind casting was not the case when it came to "Bridgerton," explaining, “That would imply that color and race were never considered when color and race are part of the show.”

Van Dusen also told Oprah Mag that the series is intended to be a modern take on a period drama, rather than a strictly historical take.

Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury and Regé-Jean Page as Simon Basset.
Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury and Regé-Jean Page as Simon Basset.Liam Daniel / Netflix

One of the show's stars, Golda Rosheuvel, opened up about her thoughts on her role, explaining how as a fan of period dramas, she never thought she'd be able to be apart of one.

"It is what it is, and it's beautiful, and it's to be celebrated," Rosheuvel, who plays Queen Charlotte, said. "I'm biracial. I was brought up in England. My mother was crazy about period dramas, which made me crazy about them."

She continued, adding, "I never thought that I'd be able to be in one. It was something that was far away. I couldn't touch it."

"Now we can rewrite that story for the little girl who's sitting at home," she said. "That cycle is stopping now."

Regé-Jean Page, who plays Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings on the show, talked to Entertainment Weekly in November 2020 about his role and what the show's casting meant to him.

“With color-conscious casting, I get to exist as a Black person in the world," he said. “It doesn’t mean I’m a slave. It doesn’t mean we have to focus on trauma. It just means we get to focus on Black joy and humanity."