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Bridgerton should be a wake-up call to Hollywood that romance novels offer a wealth of untapped source material

  • The Netflix Shondaland drama's "rapturous success builds on the 2018 rom-com renaissance spurred by fellow Netflix triumphs To All the Boys I've Loved Before — itself based on a trilogy of YA romance novels — Virgin River, and Sweet Magnolias; and Starz had already courted a rabid fan base a few years prior with its own steamy romance-adjacent property, Outlander," says Maureen Lee Lenker. So why did it take so long to realize the romance genre could prove popular? "Part of it is Hollywood's enduring reluctance to foreground women's voices," she says. Jinny Howe, Netflix's VP of original series, says: "Romance novels were considered a little bit of a guilty secret. What's so guilty about it? When you look at it through the male POV, it perhaps feels a little frivolous. But as we're exploring different lenses into female desire and female power, it's all up for grabs in a way it hasn't been before." The actress Jenna Dewan, who is producing the romcom Roomies, adds: "Romance is an underestimated powerhouse. It's a female-driven market; it outsells every other genre in fiction. It's at the forefront of some many of our cultural shifts, so it makes sense that it's causing Hollywood to sit up and take notice."

    TOPICS: Bridgerton, Netflix