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July 6, 2023 56 mins

We have the extraordinary privilege of sitting down with Shonda Rhimes, the creative genius behind Queen Charlotte, A Bridgerton Story. Throughout our conversation, we touch on Shonda’s inspirations, challenges, and the pivotal moments that lead to producing this series. Discover the vision and passion that drive Shonda's remarkable body of work as we gain insights into her writing process, her dedication to representation, and the lasting impact of her commitment to tell stories that haven’t been told. 

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Queen Charlotte The Official Podcast is a production of Shondaland
Audio in partnership with iHeartRadio. Ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to
a truly special episode of Queen Charlotte A Bridgeton Story,

the Official Podcast. I'm your host, Gabby Collins, and today
we have the honor of being in the presence of
one of the most influential voices in television and streaming,
a trailblazer who has revolutionized the small screen, big screen,
all the screens with her exceptional storytelling. So join me

in extending a very warm welcome from wherever you are.
Just pause right now to just say yes, Shonda Rhymes,
because Shonda Rhymes is here and we're going to talk
about Queen Charlotte. So let's just get right into it.
Shonda Rhimes, thank you for joining the podcast. We're here
to talk about Queen Charlotte A Bridgerton Story, and we're

going to just jump in and talk about characters story.
I have to say, first of all, one of the
things I love is a good flashback, and Shondaland's body
of work and knows how to treat a flashback or
a flash forward or a rewind like a delicacy, and
that I think is something that fans really appreciate. And so,

Queen Charlotte, a Rigarton story is everything for the person
that loves that vehicle. Are there any moments from your
early career to now considering the impact Queen Charlotte It's
imagery stories will have on audiences. Is there anything in

your life that you can look back on and say,
this is completely connected to this moment, or you are
answering a call or a question that you may have
asked yourself a long time ago.

Speaker 2 (02:06):
That's fascinating. That's a really good question. And I say
it's fascinating because I've never thought of it in any way,
shape or form. I have this allergy to looking back
on what I've done and trying to tie it or
trying to understand why I do what I do or
write what I write. I try really hard to let

that just be a muse flying around in the ethernet
or the ether and going from there.

Speaker 1 (02:33):
That's so interesting to hear you say that, seeing our
characters connecting what's happening to them in that moment to
maybe the scene we had just seen.

Speaker 2 (02:43):
Ah well, that's definitely written into the show that idea,
you know, in terms of the characters. I really loved
the way that we used the Young Charlotte past to
really understand the Bridger Tenera present. There's some certain things
in there that I thought were really powerful even for
me to see played out and I didn't even know

and be as powerful as they were when it happened.

Speaker 1 (03:09):
Yeah, So in everything that we're seeing about Young Charlotte,
we again this is interesting because you don't do this yourself,
but connecting the dots, I was wondering if present day
Queen Charlotte kind of that grandeur. Of course it's the
regency era, but her own kind of need for excess

in more She's looking at the tree and it's like
more gold. I mean, everything's just lavish. Is there anything
about that that we see that is connected to the
absences and loneliness and missing pieces in her relationship with
King George and any of her other relationships.

Speaker 2 (03:50):
You're really seeing, as much as I can possibly portray
it for the audience, a sense of how she began
and how she ended up, and that lavishness that you know,
that need for grandeur and glory which is always so
present in our Regency era Charlotte when you see it

in the past, when you get there in the past,
there is a definite loneliness. That loneliness is still in
the present, and I like keeping that alive, but she's
now filled it with things, literal things, and that was
important to me to show that that's how she spends
her time. If you are that isolated from the world,
that is how you spend your time.

Speaker 1 (04:33):
I got an opportunity to speak with Tom Erica and
we were talking about the character Queen Charlotte and just
those first images we see of her, and I was
expressing to him that that first time we see her
walking down that hallway to her brother kind of signing
her away as part of a package deal, I'm wondering

about everything that came before that moment, and also just
the tone. Everything really seems kind of like a like
blue and I'm wondering if there is any specific reason
why you chose to go that direction. There's like this
balance of loss and love that's kind of more front

and center than we may have seen before in this franchise,
and I'm wondering if why that's so, and why that
is by design.

Speaker 2 (05:25):
Well, partially because it was written by me, and honestly,
like I can't write as well, just keeping everything like
you know, light and fluffy. And also because we're seeing
the world from this character's point of view, like we're
seeing young Charlotte discover that she's been sold away, and
that really, to me is the moment. Up until then,

she's been a happy, free, overindulged princess, I mean really
and has always felt like she is in control of
her own fate, so much so that when you see
her talking to her brother best the next scene in
the carriage, you realize that she truly believes that they
could turn the carriage around, that how dare he do this?

Like she's still thinking that she can get some agency here,
And what we're seeing is is this is the very
first moment for this girl where all agency is taken away.
And I love that because you know, we don't need
to see her before that to understand what that means
and how that feels.

Speaker 1 (06:24):
I understand that she also, just the way she's written,
she seems so wise beyond her ears. She says, she
reveals that she's she's ten and seven years and I
just I'm like, how how are you so well put
together your thoughts and perspectives on love. And it was
really interesting to see how that character kind of expresses

that to the young King George, and he seems to
either get it or catch on really quickly, and they
both are able to really communicate on this level that's
really deep.

Speaker 2 (06:59):
You know, there's a level of maturity there, simply because
you know, generally in the real world, you know they're
dead by thirty, you know, in terms of not really,
but in general, lifespans are much shorter and you're forced
to grow up much earlier. And I really wanted to
portray that, especially if you were marrying into a royal family,
they got you young sometimes, and she's marrying a man

she's only known for six hours, so she's had to really,
even even in the beginning part, do some growing up
to get where she is. By the time she's sort
of saying I am and seven years old to George,
she's already had to grow up a ton there. It's
the being dropped in a world where you don't know
the rules. She's finding her way, and what we're finding
is is that there's a well of power in there

that she didn't know she had, and For George, he
was born to be king. He's never been anything else,
He's never had anything else, So for him, this path
is it's inevitable.

Speaker 3 (07:56):
You know.

Speaker 1 (07:56):
It also seems that she knows her role, she knows
what she's supposed to do. She's you know, where is
my honeymoon diary?

Speaker 3 (08:05):

Speaker 1 (08:05):
You know, she's she's she's ready to go, she's expecting things.
But at the same time, there are moments where it
seems that she really doesn't have a grasp of who
she is now. And I'm thinking about the moment when
Agatha tells her her palace walls are too high and
that she needs to stop worrying about this this this
boy and really get with it. That was an amazing

moment for me because I felt like that was a
moment of like a big sister or a friend. Agatha
was not only operating for herself in that moment, and
I thought that was really an interesting opportunity to show
that instead of cutting Charlotte down.

Speaker 2 (08:51):
Well, I think what's important is is that you said
that Charlotte seems to together and she seems to know
what to expect. She doesn't. All she knows is that
she's being married. She knows how to get married. I mean,
she's seen weddings before, and she has a vague idea
of what happens after you get married, right, just a
very vague idea because she's been told almost nothing. So

for me, what's great about Agatha and her role there
is from the very beginning, you know, Charlotte's dropped into
a world where she doesn't necessarily realize that people don't
look like her in general, because she came from a
place where her family was the royal family. You know,
if she's you know, black Portuguese royalty, her family was

the royal family. So what's there to think about. That's
an incredible place of privilege. And to come from that
incredible place of privilege to a place where you are
a novelty, an oddity is interesting. And to not realize
that you have a responsibility to the people of color
around you, like she is no notion of that. So

what I love is the moment when Agatha sees her
and she's walking down the Ailand, she really realizes like, oh,
they're going there. We've been given titles and they're going there.
It's one of my favorite moments because Agatha is all
of us, you know what I mean, all of us
in a world looking for a way to find our
place and be accepted. There's a huge opportunity there. I

think that's what she sees in Charlotte. There's a huge
opportunity there. And also, you know, there's that moment when
she offers her her friendship. If you ever called me,
I will come. That's one of those moments that I
you know, I don't know. I always feel like it's
a woman of color moment. It's such a woman of
color moment when you're the only two women of color
somewhere and you're like, call me if you need me.

You know, that moment is a moment that exists for
so many people when you're not the majority in the room.
And so she offers her that because she knows the
entire history of what they're going through. She knows exactly
what's coming for Charlotte. In so many ways, Charlotte has
no clue of her role and what she could possibly
be doing to make change's She literally is busy thinking

about a boy because she's been having the privilege of
doing that versus everybody else who knows the real deal.

Speaker 1 (11:05):
That just made my head explode. I think that's so relatable.
Why did you want to put that on screen?

Speaker 2 (11:11):
Part of the reason I wanted to put it on
screen was because, you know, one of the goals of
this show was not just to tell Queen Charlotte's origin story,
but to tell the origin story of the society that
exists in Bridgerton, you know, and at the heart of
that there is this question of race. There is this
question of you know, we call it the Love that

Changed society. So if it's a love that changed society,
I need to see how that goes and how it happens.
Because Charlotte wouldn't just come in knowing that should happen.
You know, She's she's totally innocent to any of this,
and that's both maddening and also such an opportunity for
her to like grow into a powerful person.

Speaker 1 (11:53):
So there's a moment where Lord Herman Danbury tells Agapa
to act like she's been places, to know where she is,
and to act a certain way. It really made me
wonder more about their union and how that match came
to be, And I wondered how Lady Whistledown would report

on their union if she were in existence, like did
Agatha marry up or down? And just a little bit
more about what that history is there? Does that even
matter where they come from?

Speaker 2 (12:24):
Oh? It does? Okay, it does. You know, all of
those moments I really feel proud of because they were
I really chose those moments to try to reveal to
you her life. And it's not that he's saying, act
like you've been here before, because he's been there before.
None of them have been there before. I really loved

portraying this incredible sadness for herman because you know, Agatha
may not like him, she may not love him, but
she cares for him as a man of color in
this society. She knows what he's lost. So when she
says to him, you are just as good as the
rest of them, like that's that's such a tender moment

because she's always going to be taking care of that
for him while she has her own ambitions as well.
She feels responsible for everybody of color. She's standing this
close to the Queen, she is responsible for everyone else.
So there are these moments.

Speaker 1 (13:20):
Definitely, do you think she was more keen than Charlotte
because she was making these all of these moves before
her family came to her after Lord Danbury died and
asked her what the next move was. She was already
being strategic.

Speaker 2 (13:33):
And by the way, that wasn't her family who came
to her. If you think about the Bridgerton world, they
were the predecessors too, many like the Duke, the Duke
that we all love. Yes, his father was there as
a young man. Other people were there as young men.
So people who already existed in our world in Bridgerton,
those are the young the ancestors of those people. And

I did that on purpose, because I wanted to make
sure that we understood that one world was connected to
the now.

Speaker 1 (14:00):
So the question of our is our side, not just
our line, our whole side. Everybody here who is assimilated
into the ton.

Speaker 2 (14:12):
All of them who have been elevated and swept up
into the Ton, which provides them all kinds of rights
and responsibilities, especially after Agatha makes the play to say,
we deserve land, we deserve to you know, get into whites,
we deserve for our husbands to go to the hunts,
all of that stuff. I mean, they could have been elevated,

but then they could have sort of done a whole
separate but equal thing. Right, they elevated them and Agatha
made sure that they were actually placed inside the society.
Losing that has implications for Agatha, but it has bigger
implications for all of them. And what's going to happen.
They're all going to lose their title, they're all going
to lose their space, and as she says, like they've

had a taste, they've had a taste of this, and
they're going to demand it, and I have to make
that happen. That's really her stress and her fear. And
that's also in the beginning, because I love the friendship
between Agatha and Charlotte, really one of my favorite things.
But that friendship comes from a very selfish place for
Agatha in the beginning, Like she's like, I gotta secure things.

When she finds out that Charlotte doesn't know how to
make a baby, like she's livid about those things, not
because poor Charlotte, but because if you haven't consummated, you're
not the queen. If you're not the queen, we're screwed.
Like that's really what's in there. And I don't know
for her at that young age to have to be
the person managing that is really interesting to me.

Speaker 1 (15:40):
We are just getting started. We're going to take a
quick break and we'll be right back with more from
Shonda Rhimes. Welcome back to Queen Charlotte, the official podcast.
We're here with the visionry Shonda Rhymes, and our dialogue

continues and we're going to shed light on her world.
So let's dive back into our talk with Shonda. I
feel like no one is there for Agatha in the
way she's she's there for Violet and and and Charlotte.
No one's teaching her, No one is, you know, drawing
things down for her. She's she's figuring it out. She's

in the midst of intercourse, mapping out who this list is,
that's going to be coming, that's gonna, you know, come
over to this, to the ball. No one is guiding her.
And I feel that most in her conversation with Violet
later on in present day. It's the moment she has
a conversation with Violet and says that's that Violet is

most fortunate. And I would not have heard that conversation
as a woman of color or in digit woman talking
about a host of things without the great experiment as
the backdrop, it would have been a flat like you're

lucky that you had love. But this it it was
way deeper and I couldn't quite touch what it was,
but you confirmed that that's what it was. It is.

Speaker 2 (17:22):
It is that there's a well and that well and four.
I mean, I'll tell you because I did a lot
of thinking about how this all laid out for Agatha
in that moment, in the time and in the past.
In the Georgian times, she is probably the wife of
the richest man of color there. She has the the

what's it called the cachet of his father, the king knew,
you know, her father, the king, the princess's father of
the king. So they're like the highest ranking people of
color who live in that society. They have more money
than everybody. They have more, and that's great until you
find out that, you know, they don't necessarily have more,

but they have more status than almost anybody because she
is the you know, the wife of a man whose
father was king. But Agatha also really came from someplace too.
There's that wonderful moment when they go to see George's
mom and sort of ask her for an answer, like
please do this for me put us, let us stay

in our place. And they walk out and she's brought
this four year old boy with her to say, this
is the Lord Danbury. Her fate rests, by the way,
on who this four year old gets to be, because
women don't inherit anything.

Speaker 1 (18:41):
Did I do my duty?

Speaker 4 (18:42):
Matha, you show them who you are.

Speaker 1 (18:46):
Don't meet Danbury, son of harm and Danbrie.

Speaker 5 (18:51):
Yes you are, and you are Lord Danbury, and you
will take your rightful place because you are entitled to it.

Speaker 1 (19:03):
Because you are my son.

Speaker 5 (19:06):
You are a son of Agatha Danbury, born named Soma,
royal blood of the pamndem Wo tribe in si earlier.
You come from warriors. We will.

Speaker 3 (19:23):
Never forget that.

Speaker 2 (19:25):
So she brings little Lord Danbury in and when they
walk out and she'd been down and he's like yeah,
she's like we know who you are. And he's like, yeah,
I'm Lord Danbury, son of Herman Danbury, and she's like, no,
you are my child, and we are from this tribe
and we're you know, born named Soma. I love that
moment so much. It was suggested I am Adua who

plays Lady Danbury. Not the moment, but that information and
I thought that was really powerful to be like, we
are a tribe in our own right, like I come
from someplace. The difference is is that as a woman,
she's powerless. Your whole fate rests in the hands of
what some man does, has, or wants you to get.

Speaker 1 (20:07):
Wow, that is the confirmation my soul needed. Yes, that
is yes good. That is amazing that Adua suggested that
that bit of information there, that is major. Could you
tell me a little bit more about how that conversation
came about and make me a fly on the wall.

Speaker 3 (20:28):
You know.

Speaker 2 (20:28):
It's easy though, because Agua has always felt like she could,
you know, say things to me, or talk to me,
or really try to educate me on what it meant
to be black and British now, because that's very different
than being black and American now. There's a fraught history there,
and so when she would make these suggestions to me

and say, you know this, would you know, track them
back to their relationships in Africa? This would track them
back to I loved it because I thought it was
a really powerful thing. So we didn't have difficult conversations.
A lot of the times. I would just tell me
how it was and I'd go okay and find a
way to use it because she was filled with gems
in those cases.

Speaker 1 (21:10):
With that being said, do you think though that there
will be a very big response to some of this.
I mean, the name of the show is Queen Charlotte,
a Bridgerton story. But as if you were myself, I
am all about Agatha Danbury and I'm wondering, I'm wondering
what you think about that.

Speaker 2 (21:30):
I have to say I was obsessed with Agatha. I
really was, like I was obsessed because you have to
think about this. Charlotte's the innocent, she doesn't know anything.
She's not able to really do anything in the beginning.
You know, India gives an amazing, layered, gorgeous performance. But
Agatha is the one with the giant conundrum. Like she holds,

you know, society on her shoulders. If she fails, all
these people of color are going to be shoved back
down to where they were before, which is not even
present in any of this world. They A'll get no
pieces of the pot. And so for her, like she's
very aware and I love that she feels like a
woman who understands her time. You know, for instance, she

is in bed with you know, Lord Danbury, and it's
clearly not very pleasant, but he's not being abusive, he's
not attacking her. He's just never considered that a woman
would enjoy anything any of this, and it's possible that
neither has she. So to watch her grow and find
these spaces for herself and come into her own and

like the moment she tells the Queen off that's not
there's this great moment when she's when they're having tea
and she's come to see her for the first time
and she's not sure why she's there, and she says, oh,
you've consummated the marriage, right, And she gets looked at
very blankly by Queen Charlotte and she yeah, She says,
dear God, Charlotte, have you consummated She's not called her

your majesty anymore. She's like, I'm dealing with a girl here,
like a very ignorant, spoiled little girl who's talking about
that familiar really quick, your.

Speaker 5 (23:08):
Majesty, I am still allowed to speak.

Speaker 4 (23:10):
Really, I'm talking about consummating the marriage. You and the
King did consummate the marriage, did you not. You have
to have your majesty, Charlotte if you did not consummate
the marriage. You are not actually married to the king.
Your whole position is in danger. Great experiment is in danger.

My god, you did consummate. You do know what I
mean when I say consummate, perform the marital act?

Speaker 2 (23:44):
Does it have something to do with this great experiment?
And it's also like a spoiled little girl, like she's
mad about the dog, which is why in the end
of that piece, she's like, that is a very rare Pomeranian.
Like your beliefs that all of this is just whatever.

Those are things that people don't get. You are a
privileged beyond what you know.

Speaker 1 (24:09):

Speaker 2 (24:10):
And I had a lot of fun with that.

Speaker 1 (24:12):
I was wondering. I was like, does Seanda have a
thing against Pomeranians? What's going on?

Speaker 2 (24:18):
I love the Pomeranians. Yeah, But it really was about
her getting this very rare, beautiful thing and being like you,
you know, and non understanding that she's getting something that
almost nobody else in her country would ever perceive. What
a beautiful.

Speaker 4 (24:34):
Dog, your majesty 'tis a deformed bonnie, Oh my mistake.

Speaker 1 (24:39):
Your majesty was wondering if there was a direct connection
to this idea of breeding and maybe the purity of
the breed of dog. But it's the fact that it's
a rare, a rare gift. It's a rare gift that's
really interesting.

Speaker 2 (24:56):
Yeah. I hadn't thought about the breeding part at all,
but yeah, No, it's more about the fact that it's
just the this is you don't understand what you haven't
you know? And she's completely oblivious and whining. And I
love watching Charlotte come into her own and to realize
both what is wrong with how she's being, but also
what is important about her. And then by the end

when she is standing there talking to Agatha Lady Danberry,
and she says to her, you know, you did not
come to me with this problem. No, you should. You
know that is an insult. She's she is very much
a large piece of the queen we know in the
bridger Gen era. Like she's gotten there and she knows
her power and she knows how to utilize the power

because she doesn't actually have any power. Her husband does,
but she's going to be the one to utilize it
as much as possible because he really can't.

Speaker 1 (25:46):
Yeah, you hit something there that has been riding under
the surface for me too. Which is these flash forwards.
I think a lot of times we watch television or
we speak to people in our lives and we're like, oh,
there's a gl what that person used to be, and
it can even get ageous sometimes. But I felt like
this time we were seeing that, like you said, these

present day depictions of everyone who we see, they were
always there. We are just seeing how they emerged, even Brimsley.
And yeah, I love Brimsley, I really do.

Speaker 2 (26:27):
He's delightful. There's that moment when Lady Danberry says to Violet,
you know, she says, Lady Whistledown never writes of our
stories or of rights of our hearts. And what I
loved about that, I'm not sure. But what I loved
about that was they are overlooked. These women have been
overlooked by our audiences, even they're not looking at them

and thinking of them in these full three dimensional people.
You know, they're sort of symbolic people for them, and
I really wanted to give them, give you a sense
of who they were really internally, and to hear that
bitterness from Lady Danbury and to understand that she's done
something and she's kept it a secret from Violet all

these years because it's what saves her, it's what suits her.
I think those things are interesting to see from these women.

Speaker 1 (27:18):
Is Ada really anyone's friend?

Speaker 2 (27:21):
Yes. So what I think is beautiful about where she
starts with Queen Charlotte is she starts in a world
in which she's like, this is an opportunity. This chick
is an opportunity. She's you know, I'm riding that all
the way to the bank. But as they go through,
I think she feels sorry for her, she feels compassionate

for her. But the very real friendship really comes when
she says to her, you know at that end, when
she's when Charlott's run away, when she said, you know,
I have not actually been your friend. Like she's looking
at this woman who desperately needs a friend, and she's like,
I have not actually been friend. I have been your
subject because basically I wanted a bunch of stuff from you.

And she's like, but I am happy to willing and
to try to be your friend. I'm happy and willing.
And I love that because it was a really true
moment between these two women. It was Agatha sort of
truly offering her friendship and really opening herself and giving
her giving Charlotte something because Charlotte's the loneliest person on

the planet, but everybody says yes to her all the time.
And basically, Agatha was vowing not to be that person anymore,
not to be somebody who was just using her for stuff.

Speaker 1 (28:36):
Two thoughts that came to mind just now is I
almost feel like Agatha's friendship is it's a privilege to
be to be befriended by Agatha because of all of
her value. And I don't remember where I saw or
heard this, but I heard something to the effect of

reality television and is teaching us how to do conflict resolution.
I see this series as teaching us how to become
friends with someone we don't typically see it orchestrated like that.
So I thought that was really really special to see

all of this deliberate. We're going to be friends, We're
going to strengthen our relationship. Violet and Lady Bridgerton and
Lady Danbury at the gallery, you know, getting deep, and
that moment of silence between them, surrounded by Lord Ledger's hats.
That silence, I wanted to ask you, what is in
that silence? Fill that space for us, but what it's

so big.

Speaker 2 (29:44):
I love that silence so much. And I remember I
wrote the scene, and the first time I wrote it,
there was like all this conversation and blah blah blah blah.
And then I went back and I was just looking
at the scene and I crossed it all. I deleted
it all, and I wrote a stage direct for these
two women. That's also the joy, by the way, to
get to work with Ruth and Adua. There's such amazing

actors they all are, so to get to write a
stage direction that was basically like they stare at each other,
and in that stare is communicated both the pain and hurt,
that pain of Agatha and the pain of Violet and
the hurt that Violet feels from the betrayal of keeping
the secret, and the forgiveness that Agatha have. To just
get to write that as a stage direction and then
to watch it happen. Very few people can pull off

that kind of thing, and they are spectacular.

Speaker 1 (30:33):
I mean the poise, the way they set almost at
the same time slowly.

Speaker 2 (30:39):
Which was a decision. We're not going to discuss it,
you know what I mean. We've said all we need
to say we're not going to discuss it. Let's get
back to regular life.

Speaker 1 (30:47):
I loved that so much. It truly gave me chills,
and there's a lot of physicality that I wondered if
you wrote into the stage directions. I'm thinking about Princess Augusta,
who I adore. I mean, it was the pair Brandy
moment for me. Yes, and of course Michelle Fairly is

wonderful as Princess Augusta. Wondering if there's yes the stage directions?
Did you? I felt, and maybe this was Michelle's choice,
but I felt like she was also trying to make
a lot of moves, but she couldn't move and it
was almost in her physicality.

Speaker 2 (31:27):
Well, when we talked about the character, that character is
as trapped as all of these other women, Like she
seems to hold some power, but she's in her room
with a bunch of men that she basically has to
manipulate into doing what she needs done, and if they
were to say different, she'd be out. So to me,
like she's just as constrained as they are and deeply

trying to find a way around it. You asked me
about stage directions, and I want to say this, the
moment when Princess Augusta takes her finger and tries to
rub off Charlotte's skin is one of my favorite moments.
And I wrote it and I wasn't sure how I
was going to feel or how it was going to
come out, and it just to me tells you everything
you need to know about that world in that moment.

Speaker 1 (32:10):
In that moment, I said, Oh, Okay, we're really talking
about it this time, we're really getting into it. And
India's reaction was stellar. It was really.

Speaker 2 (32:20):
India is such an amazing actress. She really is. There
was not a moment when I was like, Oh, we
shouldn't be doing this. Any piece of film that she
was in. I was like, that's perfect. She's really great.
Gold is great. They're all really great.

Speaker 1 (32:33):
Shanda, what is the deal with Lord Bute? Is he
for the Great Experiment? Is he against it? I just
need to know, you know, it's not.

Speaker 2 (32:44):
Lord Bute's a real character in History number one, and
he was some thought that he basically ran the country
through Augusta, and I think that what I was trying
to portray was that she's running the country through him
a little bit. But I don't know whether he's for
the greatest. I think he finds it distasteful and confusing
and upsetting, but if it works, it works. And I

loved putting in there this idea that they may all
hate this, they may all think that what she's saying
is absolutely stupid, but she's saying the King says, so
it doesn't matter. It's treason to suggest otherwise. They're perfectly
fine with what the King says.

Speaker 1 (33:20):
Well, that makes sense because I was also wondering what's
in it for Princess Augusta if they consummate this relationship
or not, or produce a Royal Air.

Speaker 2 (33:31):
If they fail to produce an air. I mean truly,
if they failed to produce an air, George won't be king,
or he'll be the last one. And there's all these
rumors swirling around about who George is and if he's
mad and all those other things. To then not also
produce an air, they would have to go to another
line in the family. She would lose everything. And that's

really what she talks about in that wonderful Pair of
Brandy scene, which is she endured what she had to
endure to get her son to the place that he
needs to be and in order, and that's really about
getting herself to the place that she needs to be.

Speaker 1 (34:07):
At least. There's a moment where she's speaking with young
Agatha and she says, or else the Great Experiment will fail,
and that's where Agatha is like, well, I could house
the ball is Princess Augusta. Is that her last shred
of holding on to her baby boy? Because I felt
like there was also a lot of parent slash adult

child relationship conversation happening throughout this series, including with the
Queen's children.

Speaker 2 (34:35):
She definitely loves her son, and I want to talk
about Augusta versus the Queen in a second. Okay, she
definitely loves her son, but truly, she has put this
crazy thing out there that we're going to do this
great experiment, something that nobody's comfortable with ever, right, So
she's put that out there, and if that fails, they

will stop listening to her. When she says, the King says,
the King said, and then she's out again. The Great
Experiment can't fail because what she's come up with to
solve this problem of this brown girl showing up to
be queen is this, and it can't fail because if
it fails, she's out. She's got no more power left.

The other thing I want to say, because there's this,
and I didn't even know that, I totally realized this
until I was like halfway done writing the show. There's
this wonderful connection between Augusta's deep, deep panic desire to
have an air and Regency era Queen Charlotte's deep, deep,

deep desire to produce an air for her, you know,
with her fifteen children, fourteen children or whatever. That desire
for both of them is about their power. For Queen Charlotte,
it's also about bloodline. Like that to me was really important.
She wanted the bloodline kind of her and George to

be running through the royal family for all of time, right,
And that's a way of saying, I need to set
our legacy. I need to make us go forward. You know,
you being the last king in this in this line
would be terrible because it would have meant in a
lot of ways for them the Great Experiment had failed,
the same way it would have meant for Princess Augusta

that the Great Experiment had failed.

Speaker 1 (36:25):
Stay tuned, we'll be right back shortly with more insights
and inspiration from Shonda. Right after this break, we're back
and we're talking with Shonda Rhymes. So let me not

get in the way. Let's just be right back into it.
I so badly want to know more about Reynolds and
Brimsley and where their relationship began and how also chose
each other within all of that, and I'm thinking about
everything we just spoke about, and the moment that Queen

Charlotte asks present day Grimsley if he's ever loved.

Speaker 2 (37:14):
I never try to tell anybody the backstory of Brimsley's relationship,
the same way I don't tell the backstory of Agatha's relationship.
I don't tell that stuff because in a lot of ways,
you can imagine it in your own mind and build
it in your own mind, and your romantic versions or
non romantic versions are what they are. I will say

this when we start. They are the two most important
servants in the world that they work in you. He
holds the queen, she holds the king. Those are really
big responsibilities, and the idea that they're supposed to somehow
find a way to hold the king and the queen
together is massive. But Brimsley's not allowed to do his

job in terms of that and all that, because while
he knows some, he does not know all, and Reynold
knows everything on his side. So you have this weird
battle where they basically influence a lot of the world
around them. Like there's a lot of Brimsley making guiding
Charlotte in direction she would never have gone in, and

a lot of Reynold guiding the King in the way
he's gone it. The King is a commodity, he is
a brand, he is a you know what I mean,
like right, he's an immunity, idol almost in a lot
of ways, the King is really important because while he's
not interested in being king, while he's you know, got
all of these issues and problems. Without him, none of

them would have their jobs, none of them would be
in that be in those castles, they'd be emptied out
for another family line. So to me, what was the
most important is is poor George. Everybody is looking to
him to keep their lives stable and what they are,
and he's like, he said, you know, I have you know,

I'm very aware of what it means to be the king.
I know what this is. And he's coping the only
way he can, and for him at a certain point,
it becomes clear that Charlotte's the one person who is
in it with him, not necessarily doesn't want to hold
him up and make him king, but is in it
with him like as a team member versus somebody trying

to manipulate him.

Speaker 1 (39:25):
That part right there, to me, is most clear in
the moment when he is about to have a for
a lack of better phrasing, a meltdown, and it's it's
right before a speech I think, maybe to Parliament. She
comes out and she's like, you got this, and she
turns around to Brimsley and says he's got this, And
in that moment, for me, it wasn't She wasn't pretending

to be confident. She truly was invested and believed he
had it. And that belief, I think is everything about
their relationship. That that belief in each other. That was
very evident and amazing to see such young people be
able to grasp.

Speaker 2 (40:08):
And it was such a complex thing for them to
do because the dangers are everywhere around that, you know,
any failure is incredibly detrimental, and all he wants, he
needs to be king. She wants it for him. I
don't know. I love that because they're kind of business
partners right now, you know, in that world, and that

is all he needed was a partner, somebody who was
going to stand by his side. They love each other,
but more importantly, she can help carry a mantle of
power with him.

Speaker 1 (40:39):
Thinking about power, staying in that vein, there's this moment,
Brimsley tells the young Queen Charlotte that if there's ever
anything she can't do or isn't supposed to do, he
will find a way to tell her how she can
do it. Anyway. I was wondering if there's anyone in
your life that does that for you, that.

Speaker 2 (41:00):
Would be suggesting that I'm somehow part of a royal
family of some kind.

Speaker 1 (41:04):
So no, well no, but so no. Who gives you
permission to do what you're not supposed to be doing.

Speaker 2 (41:12):
Well, that's the point, by the way, is that I
now live in a world where I don't need to
ask anybody's permission to do what I want to do.
And I'm really fascinated by the constraints placed on women
who do have to ask permission, or who did have
to ask permission. You know, it's sort of that we
make our own money now, we make our own decisions.

We don't necessarily need to be married to have a baby.
We buy our own homes. We are all independent things
that you know, even fifty years ago, you couldn't get
a credit card and less a man said you could,
couldn't rent an apartment unless a man signed off for you.
I'm really looking at that world, that world in which
all of her agency is constrained because she's a woman,

and Brimsley is her little side door out which I love.
He's willing to break a few rules for her and
to me. I'd love that moment because it showed how
much he liked her, how much she cared about her.

Speaker 1 (42:07):
Yeah, I did oftentimes wonder if Charlotte cared for him
in this similarly that I think maybe.

Speaker 2 (42:17):
Now there's this amazing moment for me when she asks
as an older Queen Charlotte, she asks Brimsley, why did
you never marry? Or did you never marry? And Brimsley
says what he says, which is, you know who would
want to marry me? I'm always here serving Grimsley.

Speaker 3 (42:39):
Have you any family? Did you never marry?

Speaker 6 (42:46):
No, your majesty, who could I ever find who would
be free to spend a lifetime with me. I'm here,
everyone here cares for the King.

Speaker 2 (43:02):
There's this moment that I just couldn't get enough of
when he walks away. The look on Charlotte's face is
devastating because A she's never thought to ask him before.
I think about that, how long they've been together. She's
never thought to ask him before because all he does
is see to her needs. And B she sort of

realizes what a person like that gives up in order
to serve her is devastating.

Speaker 1 (43:31):
Well, why didn't he ever get married?

Speaker 4 (43:33):

Speaker 1 (43:33):
Like what happened to Reynolds, that's a whole other show. Okay,
I mean he was dancing by himself. I'm like, wait
a minute.

Speaker 2 (43:42):
That's one of my favorite moments is when he's dancing
and then he's dancing alone. They're dancing together, and then
he's dancing alone, and you just feel his heartbreak. I
loved doing that. I loved giving that to the actor
who played Brimsley, because he just knocked that out of
the park. He was wonderful.

Speaker 1 (43:57):
Yeah, Hugh Sex was so memorable. Even I spoke with
Tom about some of the action onset, and there's a
moment where he throws a look over his shoulder after
Queen Charlotte is just disgusted with her sons, and it's
just such a magical, such a magical moment to capture. Yeah,

very present day.

Speaker 2 (44:19):
Yeah, I just love that they're in unison. If the
Queen hates, if the Queen's annoyed with you, he's annoyed
with you. You know, it all follows in a way
that's kind of lovely.

Speaker 1 (44:27):
Right right. So we we got to spend time with
a doctor in this series, and wow, that was dark?
Where where? What tell me about Tell me about the doctor? Seanda,
What's what's that?

Speaker 3 (44:48):
You're not the.

Speaker 2 (44:48):
First person to say this, you know, I I obviously
have had a medical show for lots of years. I
obviously am very aware of doctors and their standards of care.
But one of the thing is I was very interested
in is the history of medicine really looking at you know,
where we were and how far we've come. The idea

that not only did they not know what King George had.
You know that some people call the humors. Some people
said he had stomach issues, some people said it was neurological,
some people said he was met like all of these things.
It could have been mental health. They don't know, and
as little as they knew about medicine then, and treating
somebody who they don't quite know what they have. That's

a dangerous combination. It's a really dangerous combination. But even
more importantly, we researched that stuff. That's what they did
to people. That is what King George endured. They put
an ice bath in the kitchens and they forced him
to do those ice bath They did all of that
stuff to him because to them, that was a path

to curing. They're completely wrong, and you know, completely bonkers
about it, but that's a path to curing. And think
about how confident that doctor must be. He's the man
who got you George through meeting a fiance, through the wedding,
like he's now depended upon. So to him, you're a
little puffed up, but you also believe my methods are

working right.

Speaker 1 (46:17):
It's interesting too that the garden, I mean, there's the
garden metaphor throughout for for all of the characters, but
for King George it was where he did find peace
and calm, and it's it's so interesting that that is
a that's a form of therapy to day, you know, like, oh, yeah,

get your hands in the soil.

Speaker 2 (46:41):
But it was also considered, I think then, or in
the way we told the story as part of his illness,
because what king would want to roll up his sleeves
and put his hands in the dirt. Charlotte says that
even yeah, like what is he doing?

Speaker 1 (46:56):
She's she asked if there was any hallucinogen.

Speaker 2 (46:59):
Right that, She's like, are there any herbs in the garden?
And I know that's what she's asking for? Are there
drugs in here? I don't get it? And it was
right up there was saying it is King George growing
some pot?

Speaker 1 (47:08):
I'm not sure.

Speaker 2 (47:09):

Speaker 1 (47:10):
There was actually a lot of comedy in this In
this series, I was saying prayers, sorrow sorrows prayers for
maybe a week. I thought that was so incredibly funny
and just the the the symphony of the children chattering

and talking to the to the queen. Could you please
give listeners a little bit of how you heard that
in your head while you were writing writing those scenes.

Speaker 2 (47:42):
I had really a lot of fun writing those scenes.
I loved sorrow sorrows prayers, and I will admit that
I walked around saying it for a long time till
my kids told me to stop.

Speaker 1 (47:53):

Speaker 2 (47:54):
Sorrow I was prayers. There was something about how would
the queen deal with this? We've never seen the queen
deal with her children this, we're on the other side
of the hall, really watching the queen deal with her children.
We never see that. In Bridgerton is very clear that she's,
you know, not a capable mother, but she's a mother
of her time. She's a mother of her time, just

the way all of them were. People took your babies
away and then you didn't see them again until they
were four, and then you sent them off to boarding
school or whatever. So there's this amazing sense of she's
got all of these children, she's so fantastic, she's you know,
her husband was so accomplished, and they who have been
given everything are useless, which I think is something anybody

can relate to today, like this idea of you've been handed
everything and therefore you just want to do nothing. Her
children literally like laid about, went partied, slept with actresses,
had mistresses, hired prostitutes, and never bothered. They had fifty
illegitimate children. That fact was real. I couldn't believe it,
fifty illegitimate children and she just couldn't, you know, the

eye idea of controlling them was so frustrating. I love
dealing with that. I had so much fun writing that
stuff and thinking, how do you deal with with the
grief of your child over his loss of his daughter
when you really need them to get it together and
do something. That's how where the sorrow Stars prayers came from.
It was a very nice like shorthand dealing with him.

Speaker 1 (49:21):
It was incredibly funny.

Speaker 2 (49:23):
One of my most favorite moments that was funny that
I just that I didn't know was be as funny
until I saw it on screen, was Violet talking about
her garden.

Speaker 1 (49:35):
Yeah, Ruth, Yeah, she.

Speaker 2 (49:38):
Was amazing with that, you know, like trying desperately to
explain what she means and not being able to really
and just being so embarrassed, so embarrassed.

Speaker 3 (49:49):

Speaker 6 (49:50):
See you my.

Speaker 3 (49:55):
Garden as in bloom, which.

Speaker 2 (49:57):
Is the middle of winter, the ground is fruits.

Speaker 3 (50:00):
And I had a garden, a luscious garden with many
varieties of flowers. And when he died, the garden died,
and I did not even think of the garden. I
did not want the garden but lately, without warning, the
garden has begun to bloom.

Speaker 2 (50:20):
The garden and I want.

Speaker 6 (50:22):
Things sunlight.

Speaker 1 (50:28):

Speaker 2 (50:30):
Your garden is in bloom.

Speaker 3 (50:35):
It is blooming out of controllable violent. I am becoming dangerous.
I'm shure. I almost asked a footmot to lie on
top of me today. I must go. It was lovely
to see you. I have been in the exhibition far
longer than I planned.

Speaker 2 (50:56):
Good day, And I use that because the Violet that
we know in Bridgerton couldn't even explain to her daughter
how babies were made. In season one, She's talking about
there were puppies, there were dogs, and then there were puppies,
and that's all she can say. So the embarrassment that
she feels to have to say that her garden is

in bloom was so much fun for me to watch.

Speaker 1 (51:21):
That it was. I think also at Ajua's reaction was
just you know, just sped into it. That one was
really cool to see. Yeah, it really was. You know,
I thought that all of the scenes where we see
Agatha with Lord Danbury in their marital bed were really funny.
But the moment she's drinking port wine, Agatha's drinking port wine,

I felt terrible for thinking it was funny. I'm like, oh, this,
this character is a person who who really despised this
her husband, I mean, talked about how she still stood
up for him as for his you know, identity politics.
But that port Wine monologue, whoa, that was so heavy

and just the symbolism of the port Wine.

Speaker 2 (52:15):
I loved that. I loved the moment when you hear
like how constrained her life has been. For me, that
was big and it was one of those scenes that
I absolutely loved because it tells you everything. You know,
the idea that she was betrothed at the age of
three and therefore raised to like anything her husband was
going to like, to read the books, to play only

the music that he liked, to wear, the colors that
he liked from a toddler was amazing to me. It
also made very clear like what her plight was and
why she was searching so hard for some power of
her own.

Speaker 1 (52:51):
All of what we've seen of Lady b Danbury before
this series, she's by herself, she's hosted and casino nights,
she's she's yeah, she's.

Speaker 2 (53:04):
Living the life as free as she can, and she's
she's somehow found peace, you know what I mean, She
somehow found a place where she's doing what she wants
to do when she wants to do it.

Speaker 1 (53:14):
Our time is coming up on the end, but I
did want to just take a little more time to
talk about episode four, where we do get to kind
of see behind the veil and spend more time with
the young King George. Was your hope that viewers would
appreciate his character for more than just this, like this

missing piece in the portraits and you know, not at
the other end of the table, or was this an
opportunity to just see more of Queen Charlotte.

Speaker 2 (53:46):
What I loved about that in that episode was not
I wasn't trying to to redeem him in any way,
but we had been looking at the world through Charlotte's eyes.
Every moment is you're staring at the world through Charlotte's
eyes when it's Charlotte and George, those are all what
she thinks and what she perceives and what she's been
allowed to know. And I wanted us to go back

and show you what those moments had been for him
for real, Like there's that thing of perception and reality.
Their perceptions and realities were very different, and I loved
the idea that we were going to get to go
see his reality and how harsh, how imprisoned he was,
and how difficult his life was, because I thought that
made complete sense to understand why they should be together

or how they could come together.

Speaker 1 (54:33):
Thank you so much, Shonda Rhymes for giving us Queen
Charlotte a Bridgeton story. We'll be rewatching and binging it
over and over again and looking forward to more.

Speaker 2 (54:46):
Thank you so much. It was great to be here.

Speaker 1 (54:48):
Thank you so much. So as we wrap up, we
just want to say thank you again to Shonda Rhymes
in a very flowery, beautifully written, prosy kind of way,
because we want to give all of the flowers in gratitude,
and we also want to make sure we're not missing

any blind spots, and so this is that right here,
and we are so inspired to push boundaries and cross
lines and embrace all of the limitless possibilities that lie
before us because of the way Shonda and Shonda Land

present characters that show us that is possible and that
that is life. Until next time, stay curious, stay inspired,
and we'll be back with Julia Quinn next week. Queen Charlotte.
The Official Podcast is executive produced by Sandy Bailey, Lauren Homan,
alex Alja Tyler Klang and me Gabrielle Collins. Our producer

and editor is Tarry Harrison. Subscribe to the podcast anywhere
you get your favorite shows. Get the book I'm a
Chris to Be Turned the Page, Smell the Binding kind
of Queen. But you can download it and you can
find Queen Charlotte, a Bridgeton story on Netflix. We'll see
you next week. Queen Charlotte. The Official Podcast is a

production of Shondaland Audio in partnership with iHeartRadio. For more podcasts,
visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen
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