Shonda Rhimes details how that Lady Whistledown reveal sped up 'Bridgerton' timeline

Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton
(Image credit: Netflix)

Devoted "Bridgerton" fans already know that season 3 has sped up the storyline they've come to know from the Julia Quinn-penned novel series on which the popular Netflix drama is based. The soon-to-come "Bridgerton" season 3 is shaking up the book order by jumping over Benedict Bridgerton's story and instead focusing on the friends-to-lovers relationship between Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan and Colin (Luke Newton), which actually plays out in the fourth book, "Romancing Mister Bridgerton."

And the reason for that change-up wasn't just because of the fan buzz surrounding the much-anticipated Polin romance, but also due to the storyline centered on Lady Whistledown, the mysterious figure behind those social pamphlets detailing the gossip of the Ton. That writer turned out, of course, to be Penelope Featherington herself in the season one finale, a character reveal that executive producer Shonda Rhimes prompted the powers that be to fast-track Pen's story.

“It was very clear that if we were going to reveal that Penelope was Lady Whistledown at the end of Season 1, we really only had a season when that could work as a secret that she carried — and then we got to see Eloise discover it,” said Rhimes during an interview for Variety. The producer is referencing that dramatic moment when Eloise Bridgerton, Penelope's BFF and Colin's sister, discovers her closest confidant's betrayal in the second season’s finale.

Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton season 3

(Image credit: Netflix)

Fellow "Bridgerton" executive producer Betsy Beers told the outlet that that connection between Penelope and Eloise was also appealing to the team for the upcoming season: “Obviously, all the characters are great, but I’ve loved that character [of Penelope]. And I am always into the relationship between Penelope and Eloise. There are lots of layers to this season with characters I think you haven’t really gotten to dig into before.”

However, if Rhimes had her way, they would be fast-tracking all of the "Bridgerton" stories — though the producer previously announced that she is "committed" to adapting all eight editions of the "Bridgerton" books and allowing each Bridgerton sibling to have their moment in the spotlight, she does wish that things moved more quickly where filming is concerned. “It takes so long, and that’s frustrating to me," Rhimes told Variety. "To me, we should be able to write and produce shows at the same time, and that’s not necessarily possible at this moment. It should be, but it’s not.”

However, she's already got the ball rolling on future installments of the show. (Netflix has already officially picked up "Bridgerton" season 4.) “I do have a very specific plan of where we go each season — which one is which,” Rhimes said. “Because you really have to start seeding in the other siblings, and what’s going on with them, to push them to the next season. We’ve really talked about it through, I think, Season 6 or maybe 7.”

In the meantime, the first four episodes of "Bridgerton" season 3 will drop on Netflix on May 16, with four more to follow on June 13. And Tom's Guide will keep you posted on all future editions of the series. 

Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is a writer-editor covering culture, food and drink, travel and general lifestyle in New York City. She was previously the Deputy Editor at My Imperfect Life, the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York.