"Perhaps Bridgerton’s success can be attributed partially to the extraordinary times we live in," Joanna Robinson says of Netflix's announcement that the Shondaland series is projected to reach 82 million homes. "The show arrived at the end of a very tough year, offering a lush and soapy escape to a touch-starved, isolated audience that, thanks to stay-at-home orders, was watching more TV than ever...This year, entertainment moved almost completely out of the public-facing multiplex and into the privacy of homes—which may also have something to do with this embrace of programming that caters primarily to people who are not straight men." Netflix's new head of global TV, Bela Bajaria, says staying home has led to many viewers watching genres of TV shows they would normally avoid. “It’s interesting to me, how many men have said to me, ‘Oh, my wife loves (another Netflix romance show) Virgin River. She watches all the time, and I just now watch it with her too,’” Bajaria tells Vanity Fair. “It might be archaic to think that men don’t watch with women.” But, adds Robinson, "given Shondaland’s track record, Bridgerton’s runaway success can hardly be considered a pandemic fluke. The Bridgerton sensation is, after all, exactly what Netflix was hoping for when it struck a multimillion dollar deal with Rhimes back in 2017. And while Bajaria is unsurprised by Shondaland generating yet another smash hit, she was a little shocked to discover just how many men were enjoying the series right out of the gate...Rhimes hit the ground running in the so-called Golden Age of television, when it was impossible to swing an Emmy without hitting morally murky white men like Tony Soprano, Don Draper, Walter White, or even Netflix’s very own flagship, algorithmically-generated anti-hero, Frank Underwood. But even as TV moved out of its anti-hero phase and into a blockbuster genre era where Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Stranger Things reigned supreme, Rhimes was methodically building up her brand and an empire that defied trends. When Netflix shook off its reputation for letting data drive its original content and became better known for putting the peak in Peak TV by platforming, well, everything, there could be no better spot for Rhimes and her team to do what it has always done best."