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Bridgerton is officially Netflix’s most successful original series ever, and it goes without saying that Hamilton is the biggest musical to come to Broadway in years. But that’s not what these two shows have in common. Shonda Rhimes’ first Netflix series and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical have similar origin stories.

Key art from Netflix's 'Bridgerton' (L) and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Broadway's 'Hamilton' (R) | Netflix/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic
Key art from Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ (L) and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ (R) | Netflix/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

‘Bridgerton’ is Netflix’s biggest original series ever

Netflix announced on Jan. 27 that Bridgerton is now its most successful original series of all time. The show has been watched by 82 million users since its debut on Dec. 25, 2020. Rhimes took to Twitter to thank viewers for watching the show, which has been green-lit for a second season.

“‘I wish to be entertained’ – Queen Charlotte,” she wrote. “I am so moved and grateful that @shondaland has pleased Queen Charlotte and 82 million of your households around the world. Now back to work on Season 2!”

The series is based on Julia Quinn’s romance novels. The first season is based on Quinn’s first Bridgerton book, The Duke and I, which is all about Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings’, romance. The other seven books focus on the other seven Bridgerton siblings, giving fans a hint on what to expect for season 2.

‘Bridgerton’ happened because Shonda Rhimes ran out of things to read on vacation

In a Jan. 25 interview on the Tamron Hall Show, Quinn shared the story of how she found out Rhimes was going to adapt her book for the small screen. Quinn was sitting in a coffee shop when she got a call from her agent telling her the Grey’s Anatomy creator was interested in her stories.

“I practically fell off the stool, ’cause nobody was adapting romance novels,” Quinn said. “People will ask me, ‘How did you sell it?’ and I’ll say, ‘I didn’t do anything!'”

As Quinn explained, Rhimes came across her book completely by chance.

“The way I understand it, Shonda ran out of books to read on vacation and somehow stumbled on one of mine,” she said. “It’s crazy to think that my life is forever changed because Shonda didn’t bring enough reading material on vacation, but that’s honestly what happened.”


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Lin-Manuel Miranda came up with the idea for ‘Hamilton’ while on vacation

Hamilton stans already know the story of how Miranda first came up with the idea for the show, but for those who don’t, it’s this story that ties Hamilton and Bridgerton together.

The Tony winner told Playbill in 2009 that Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton was his beach read while on vacation post-In The Heights.

“After In the Heights finished Off-Broadway, I went on vacation and brought with me a biography of Hamilton,” he said. “Something about it just grabbed me. I picked up the book thinking maybe I’ll get a funny song out of it—some jokey-rap thing about the Hamilton/Burr duel. But as I read it, I realized Hamilton’s whole life was about the power of words and wouldn’t it be great to hear a hip-hop album about how we created this country?”

Hamilton went on to receive a record-breaking 16 Tony Award nominations and 11 wins, and it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. And Rhimes’ vacation entertainment ended up becoming Netflix’s most successful original series of all time.

This just goes to show that you never know when the spark of creation will strike. If you’re reading a book on a beach right now, this is your sign to turn it into something bigger.