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Like so many people around the world, I devoured Bridgerton Season 1 during the pandemic. Toronto was in and out of Covid-19 lockdowns for most of 2020, including the holiday season. We didn’t see our extended family in-person for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Everything during that dreary, difficult time was dialled back to a ‘2’ on the excitement scale.

Bridgerton burst into that gloom with its joyful stories, costumes and sets. Never before had I craved connection and social pleasure more in my life, and the show delivered for me and so many others. 

And so, as Season 2 approached, a former colleague asked her network for Bridgerton fans willing to chat about watching the show. I put my hand up. 

Read the digital version—it may be behind a paywall. 

See the print edition on my IG

My conversation with Elaine Smith covered a lot of ground that understandably didn’t make it into the piece for time. Here are some backstage highlights. 

Trend 1: Making novel adaptations more inclusive

One huge trend in TV production right now are novel adaptations that engage with what it means to tell an inclusive story beyond the limits of the original novelist’s perspective. 

Here are some current examples: 

  • The Witcher / Andrzej Sapkowski (Netflix) 
  • Foundation / Isaac Asimov (Apple TV) 
  • Shadow and Bone / Leigh Bardugo (Netflix) 
  • The Wheel of Time / Robert Jordan (Prime )
  • Bridgerton / Julia Quinn (Netflix) 
  • . . .  and many others

As a novelist and TV viewer, I find the choices fascinating to watch. Which roles get an identity swap, and what form does it take? Does the show choose to address diversity head-on in the story, or through production and casting choices? What’s the fan reaction like? 

Trend 2: Romance Conversations on TikTok

Romance is a genre long scorned by the mainstream with thriving communities, online and elsewhere. BookTok, TikTok’s community about books, is no exception.

Fan reaction videos range from memes and appreciation to analysis and criticism. I’m here for all of it. 

Sanjana’s work on Tiktok (@baskinsuns) has been a big recent influence in my thinking about romance as a variant of collective fantasy with shared rules. She also has an excellent substack where she’s written about the Bollywood to Bridgerton pipeline. 

Another romance Booktoker whose romance content I love and recommend is Janessa (@meemoreads). She’s particularly interested in what she calls the trifecta—the intersection between high fantasy, romance and spice. It’s a relatively new subgenre of fantasy with an ardent and growing fanbase. 

My own TikTok posts about my interview experience and some underlying principles for pitching media and leveraging the outcome are here and here.

Facebook also has a number of groups focused on romance and book connections. I belong to Northern Heat, a group for Canadian romance readers run by Jenny Holiday, Farah Heron and Jackie Lau. I can’t be 100 percent sure, but I think it’s where I first learned about Bridgerton’s adaptation. It’s a great place to visit for other great romance recommendations.

Trend 3: Importance of diversity, particularly in Toronto’s storytelling 

In print, the Star article ran below Evelyn Kwong’s op-ed about Turning Red and the importance of representation, which I read online and greatly admired. 

My family watched the film and really enjoyed seeing an animated version of our city. I love the friends, the family relationships and the SkyDome sequence (beta readers for Chaos Calling know why and appreciate why that’s the only acceptable name for the building). 

I also recommend this Toronto Life piece about Turning Red’s director, Domee Shee, her career at Pixar, and her Toronto influences.