Shonda Rhimes Says 'Bridgerton' Wasn't Supported By Higher-Ups Until It Was A Hit

by Cassandra Stone
Netflix and Frazer Harrison/Getty

Shonda Rhimes says the Hollywood Foreign Press Association initially didn’t want to promote Black-led ‘Bridgerton’

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is the organization that hands out Golden Globes awards, and has consistently faced scrutiny for not recognizing more diverse movies, television shows, creators, and production teams — particularly this year. And Shonda Rhimes is here to spill the tea on HFPA and her #1 hit Netflix show, Bridgerton.

Even Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the literal hosts of the Golden Globes, called out the Golden Globes for their lack of diversity in their monologue, for Pete’s sake. And on Tuesday, Rhimes took to Twitter to call out the organization’s alleged discrimination toward Black-led projects like Bridgerton, Girls Trip, and Queen & Slim.

“HFPA rejected our press conference. Until it was a ‘surprise hit’ (Grey’s, Scandal, Murder -SURPRISE!) And yet they STILL asked me to show up in person to present at the Globes. We’re not the only ones. This is why HFPA’s house is on fire. They lit the flame w/their own ignorance,” Rhimes wrote. “And I’m the lucky one. More important: think of all the great talent and shows out there that never even got a chance.”

Hmm…the HFPA was dismissive of a wonderful, instant-hit show like Bridgerton, a show starring lots of amazing Black actors, and also a show that centers around romance and the female gaze? Well hand me a fan before I swoon, I simply cannot imagine why that would be! [*coughs in misogyny and racism*]

Let’s recap what “hit” means when we’re talking about Bridgerton, shall we? Or any other Shonda Rhimes project, for that matter. Bridgerton broke Netflix records by streaming in well over 80 million households worldwide. It remained in the streaming platform’s top 10 for 190 countries FOR SEVERAL WEEKS. It became an instant pop-culture sensation and was practically immediately renewed for additional seasons.

And yet, it was denied any Golden Globe nominations despite receiving critical praise. The Screen Actors Guild has nominated it for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series and offered a nom for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series to Regé-Jean Page (THEE Duke of Hastings, thank you very much). It will undoubtedly receive Emmy nominations later this year. But the HFPA didn’t even want to give the show a press conference for promotional purposes, much less an actual award nomination.

Once the show exploded in popularity over the holidays, the allegedly HFPA panicked and hurriedly threw an event together only a few days before voting closed. Uh-huh. Yeah. Too little, too late.

Joining Rhimes in calling out the HFPA was-writer-producer Ava DuVernay also tweeted out the article, detailing her own experiences with the HFPA while promoting her critically acclaimed 2019 Netflix series When They See Us.

“For the WHEN THEY SEE US/ HFPA press conference, less than 20 of them showed up,” she wrote. “Based on the quality of their questions, I jokingly asked, ‘Have any of you seen the series?’ Crickets. More came in the room when the pix were to be taken, at which time two peddled their scripts.”

Interestingly, When They See Us received 16 Emmy nominations and won two, but was ignored completely by the Golden Globes last year.

Let’s hope the HFPA not only puts out their own fire but completely rebuilds their entire house before next year.