World How "Bridgerton" hints at the "complete story" of Black Britain
Bridgerton musical creators perform and talk going viral, Broadway dream cast
We were joined by Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, creators of viral hit 'Bridgerton the Musical,' who performed and talked about the whirlwind response they've received to their creation.When Abigail Barlow asked this question and then answered it with an original song, "Ocean Away," she sparked a viral hit that spread like wildfire across the internet. Teaming up with her writing partner and musical virtuoso Emily Bear, the two have become a sensation, posting new songs and glimpses into their writing process on TikTok and Instagram.
As we celebrate Black History Month, we're looking at how the hit Netflix show "Bridgerton" is changing our understanding of the past. The Shonda Rhimes-produced period drama is the most-watched Netflix series ever. It re-imagines 18th century England as a time when relationships between races are not forbidden, and a place where people of color are front and center.
The show has drawn criticism for its diverse casting, but CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab has discovered that Britain's upper classes do have a very real multi-racial history.
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The first season " Bridgerton ", which pushed past "Lupine" and "The Witcher" to # 1 of the most watched Netflix series of all time , was a huge success. No wonder that a second season has already been commissioned - but as fans of the book by Julia Quinn know, a new main character duo awaits us in season 2.
Record-breaking, boundary-pushing, and oh so sexy, "Bridgerton" sizzles in a way few period dramas do. But make no mistake, the Regency-era romance - with its multi-racial cast - isn't merely an act of color-blind casting. The series is addressing the issue of race head-on.
The English monarch in the drama is the very real King George III, who married Queen Charlotte in 1761, a German aristocrat whose racially ambiguous features have long divided historians over possible African roots.
"This is all part of the story of England... all kinds of races and cultures have arrived here, and I think it's just, it's a very important part of that narrative," said Anna Eavis, English Heritage's curatorial director.
But in Bridgerton, Queen Charlotte is resplendent in silks and towering wigs, and she is unmistakably Black. The pivotal role is portrayed by classically trained British-Guyanese actress Golda Rosheuvel.
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For season 2 of The Bridgerton Chronicles, Netflix has decided to bet on Simone Ashley to play the main female role. © Netflix For season 2 of The Bridgerton Chronicles, Netflix has decided to bet on Simone Ashley to play the lead female role. New recruit for The Chronicles of Bridgerton . While the first season was a real success for Netflix, the platform is already working on the sequel. This time around, the plot won't particularly follow the romance between Simon and Daphne.
"For the first time, I was allowed to be in a story," Rosheuvel told CBS News' Imtiaz Tyab. "Do you know what I mean? I felt seen in a story... that had never happened to me before."
So what does she say to critics who complain that it's disingenuous for people of color to be depicted in period dramas as peers to their white contemporaries?
"There is a reality, I think, in my opinion, as you say, where other people existed, other peoples' stories were going on at the same time. That's why I kind of look on Downton Abbey, all of that, I mean, in a positive light," she said. "Because I take from their exclusion a positive journey to inclusion."
Downton Abbey was by no means the first period drama to leave Black and Brown people largely out of its storylines, but it is perhaps the most famous.
The show's creator, Julian Fellowes, says the reason he casts mostly-white productions is because, "you can't make something untruthful."
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Lizzy Talbot, who choreographed the "Bridgerton" sex scenes, said she thought the moment "created a really great conversation around consent.""Bridgerton" has been praised for its many steamy sex scenes and the way it portrays female pleasure, but there's one intimate moment that really got fans talking - and it was far more controversial.
But artist Hannah Uzor says that's an argument that rests on a falsehood. For years she's been researching the lives of historical Black British figures in the upper classes and, with her paintbrush, brings them to life in vivid portraits.
"There's still a lot of racial inequality, and having to highlight those stories just helps people to understand why we're here in a sense," Uzor told CBS News. "We are not others, or we haven't just arrived — we've been here with the very fabric of this society."
Uzor's most celebrated painting is of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Queen Victoria's African goddaughter, who was born in 1843 in a region which, today, is Nigeria and Benin. She spent part of her childhood in England under the monarch's care.
"I think Sarah's story is very important, because it helps to bring about a part of our history that we don't want to look at, how we represent Black people in history, and also how we bring the story - the complete story - of our history, the good, the bad and the ugly, and talk about it," Uzor said. "I think Sarah helps us to question some of our own prejudices."
Rosheuvel told CBS News that prejudice is something that she's faced far too often as a Black actress. Before Bridgerton, she said she frequently felt as though she'd been pushed into a professional abyss.
"I remember a time in my career where, you know, I had to change my perspective on my own career… I was frustrated, and I wasn't seeing, you know, a queen, a Black queen, and a Black duke, kind of, you know, a Lady Danbury," she said. "I had to kind of really search in myself for my own self-worth."
It wasn't easy, and she was out of work for a period, "but you know, I come from quite a strong stock, and just the persevering, the persevering and believing in myself… I come from a family that never - I never heard, 'Oh you can't do that because of the way you look.' Everything was possible for me."
She just needed the world to catch up.
"And I think it is," she told CBS News. "I think it's better, it's brighter."
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"The most annoying part is having to sit back and be quiet while everybody talks about you and you have to deal with it," she said during an interview with Cosmopolitan UK on Tuesday. © Provided by People Gary Gershoff/Getty "The most annoying part is having to sit back and be quiet while everybody talks about you and you have to deal with it," she said. "People can say whatever they want about me, but unless you know me, you don't really know anything at all." She finds it hard to deal with "people's opinions" of her relationships, she added.