[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of Bridgerton. Read at your own risk!]
Even though we're supposedly in a traditional dead zone for television, it seems all everyone can talk about is Netflix's new period drama Bridgerton, an eight-episode adaptation of the first novel in Julia Quinn's novel series of the same name, executive produced by Shonda Rhimes and helmed by her protégé Chris Van Dusen.
It's the steamiest show that Rhimes has put her name on, and that's saying something when you consider she's the creator of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. At the center of the Regency-era soap is Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and the duke, Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), whose enemies-to-friends-to-lovers roller-coaster romance dictates most of the drama throughout the show's first season. Page credits the pair's shifting dynamics and the evolving tension between them for making the couple so watchable.
"[Daphne] is incredibly capable. She's incredibly strong-willed. She's incredibly intelligent. And I think that both Simon and Daphne are very, very attracted to someone who's capable of both standing up to them and challenging them," Page told TV Guide in a recent interview. "They both actually learn to be arrogant their own ways, and so having someone who's strong enough to kind of break them down a little bit, make them reexamine themselves and what they believe in, makes them both stronger characters by the end."
Simon and Daphne realize by the fifth episode of the season that they are truly in love with each other, but that isn't the end of their troubles. Simon, determined not to have children as part of a spiteful oath to curtail his cruel father's legacy, deceives Daphne in their wedding bed and every time they make love afterwards (which is many, many times) by pulling out before he orgasms to prevent her from becoming pregnant. When Daphne finally figures out what he's doing, and that it's so he won't have children rather than that he can't have children, their fledgling marriage immediately turned to shambles. It takes the rest of the season, the threat of losing each other, the intervention of their guardians, and a breathtakingly romantic dance in the rain for the two to realize what they really have together.
By the end of Season 1, Daphne and Simon reconcile, and she gives birth to their first child. By happy ending standards, it hits all the right notes. But this is a television series with the potential for many more seasons, so what does this ending mean for fans of the couple if Bridgerton scores a Season 2? Page says there are still ways for Daphne and Simon to get into trouble even after getting over this first major hurdle.
"I'm not sure I believe in paradise. I know that the romance genre generally does -- part of the deal is that you get a happy ending," he explained. "But as far as continuing to explore characters, I think that love is an evolving thing. It's a living, breathing thing that needs tending, that needs looking after, that needs mending when it gets worn or torn. They get married very young. They still have a lot of growing to do. They have a lot to do, and I think it'll always be fun to watch them do that together."
All we have to say is: Where do we sign up for more?
Bridgerton Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.