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May 9, 2024 24 mins

Inside the Ton is a 4-part special that dives deep into the genesis and journey of some of the most beloved characters from Shondaland’s Bridgerton series. This episode is all about the meddling mamas, Violet Bridgerton and Portia Featherington. Executive producer Betsy Beers is joined by Julia Quinn, author of the Bridgerton novels, showrunner Jess Brownell, and the actresses who bring the matriarchs to life: Ruth Gemmell and Polly Walker. 

While listening to Inside The Ton, rewatch Bridgerton Seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix. Then, Binge Bridgerton season 3 on Netflix starting May 16th and immediately enjoy all the tea with us each week.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Bridgerton The Official Podcast is a production of Shondaland in
partnership with iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:10):
Welcome back to Bridgerton the Official Podcast, your exclusive peak
behind the curtain of Shondaland's Bridgerton series. I'm Betsy Beers,
executive producer Bridgerton, and I'm also your host of Inside
the Time, a deep dive into the genesis and journey
of some of the most beloved characters from the show.

(00:31):
For the third installment of this four part special, we're
meddling in the business of Violet Bridgerton and Portia Featherington,
two widow mothers of the Tongue who on the surface
really could not be more different from one another, But
one thing they have in common, Both mamma's are determined
to do what they think is best for their children.

(00:54):
I'll be joined by the remarkable writers and bona fide
Bridgerton scholars, author Julia Quinn and showrunner Jess Bronell. We'll
also hear from the actors Ruth Gemmel and Polly Walker
on the intersection of these legendary matriarchs. But first, come on,
let's recall the recent events in the lives of Lady
Violet Bridgerton and Lady Porscha Featherington. Lady Porsha Featherington has

(01:19):
spent the better part of the past two seasons and
brailled in scandal. Wow, there has been a lot of scandal. First,
she welcomed to pregnant Marina Thompson into her home, and
while Porsche tried to marry her off before the rest
of the time learned her secret, Lady Whistledown had other plans. Meanwhile,
Porsha's husband gambled away all their money and he passed away,

(01:42):
leaving them nearly destitute. What is a widow to do? Well,
turns out the new Lord Featherington proved to be another disappointment.
Lady Featherington tried her best to sway things in her
and her daughter's favor, but Lord Featherington, as it turns out,
was far from the gentlemen he made himself out to be.

(02:02):
But through her cutting intellect, Portia found a way to
send him back to America, narrowly avoiding another full blown scandal.
And not only that, she successfully married off two of
her daughters. Now dearest Penelope still remains. Meanwhile, we've watched
as Lady Violet Bridgerton peers off her brood on the
marriage mart A favorite of the Ton, Violet herself set

(02:26):
an enviable example, having made a star cross love match
with her late husband Edmund. Since his untimely passing, her
garden has yet to bloom. If you get my drift.
She's been much more preoccupied with helping her children find love,
and after her great success marrying Dafning off to the Duke,

(02:46):
Violet had a bumpier time convincing Anthony to follow his heart.
Now after successfully settling Antony with this perfect match Kate,
Lady Bridgerton has only got six more children to help
find the same happiness. And by the way, Lady Bridgerton
has had to navigate her own shrif of scandals brought
upon her family by Colin, Antony and Eloise, But the Bridgertons,

(03:10):
they always seem to land on top. Lady Bridgerton and
Lady Featherington are absolutely totally two of my favorite characters
in the Ton. I had the opportunity to continue my
character chats with the amazing Julia Quinn, author of the
Bridgerton series. Julia and I talked about the matriarchs as

(03:30):
they were conceived in the books. What motherhood looked like
in the regency era and the ways readers might even
be smarter than writers. Okay, let's take just talk a
little bit about you know, two of my favorite people
in the world, Lady Featherington and Lady Bridgerton. How different
are these two as mothers? I mean, come on, oh,

(03:52):
they're so different.

Speaker 3 (03:54):
But yet oh my gosh, can we just take a
Polly Walker appreciation moment?

Speaker 2 (03:58):
Oh, just have a moment please for one of the
just an amazing actress and somebody who makes me both
shudder and love her at the same time.

Speaker 3 (04:09):
And I mean, we need to take a Ruth Gemmel
appreciation moment too. But I think what Polly does has
got to be harder because I mean, we just we
love Violet, we just adore her, every inch of her,
every inch of her. But then for Lady Featherington, I mean,
you hate her half the time and yet you sympathize
whether she has these moments where like in season one

(04:31):
when she's talking to Marina at the end, I was
just like, how did she do that?

Speaker 2 (04:37):
Ugh? Oh yeah, And look, I'm just gonna say for
everybody what you see in season three, it's one of
the best sort of film and character journeys I've seen
in a really really long time.

Speaker 3 (04:49):
Yeah, I just you know, when you can make a
character who does things that are so unkind still be
so sympathetic, it's brilliant, both her and the writers for
the show because in the book she's not nearly a
big as big a role. So I have to really
give credit to the screenwriters for, you know, the ways

(05:10):
that they have expanded her and built her out.

Speaker 2 (05:13):
Oh and I think even you know, season's went into understanding.
I mean, she's diabolical, but understanding always why she's doing it,
because it's that that glimpse of the relationship with her
husband in season one where you're just oh, this it's

(05:34):
it lies in such stark contrast, as you said, with
the Bridgerton's and the relationship Violet had, you know, the
love that died that will never be again. You know
that that entire contrast is just It's also I think
for me when I look at this and I say, okay,
it's fascinating to me the different forms of child rearing

(05:54):
that occurred during this period of time. I mean, can
you speak to that some because obviously Violet's a very
different kind of other than Penelope Porsia.

Speaker 3 (06:04):
But yeah, I suspect that PSI, I suspect that there
weren't that many families like the Bridgertons. To be honest
with you, I don't think that level of involvement was
that common there. You know a lot of people they
would see their kids once a day when the nannies
would bring them out. So that was fairly I think atypical,

(06:27):
which isn't say didn't happen, but I don't think that
was typical for aristocratic families in that time period.

Speaker 2 (06:35):
The Violet. One of the things which is really always
interesting obviously about the world is violets say, total anomaly
as she is for you know, wanting her children to
marry for love. It's interesting because they're both widows, so
or at least Porsha becomes a widow or we watch
or become a widow, and they seem to really navigate

(06:56):
the world incredibly differently. Okay, this is just a random question.
How did you come up with names? Because Porscha Featherington
is such a good name, and the fact it's Porsche.

Speaker 3 (07:09):
I mean, I don't even remember did I name her Porsia?
I don't even remember.

Speaker 2 (07:12):
That maybe we did. I don't know. I don't know.

Speaker 3 (07:16):
Somebody will let me know, because there are definite books
where I don't bother giving somebody a first name because
they're just lady this or that, And I'm like, I wonder,
I wonder if I could go the entire book without
saying what her first name is. It's kind of fun
for me, Like it's like a little challenge I give
to myself. So so I may not have, you know,
I have learned that I have a finite ability to

(07:40):
come up with names, because it turns out and apparently
I had a someone whistled down in my fourth book,
just as like a dinner party guest totally realize it. Yeah, yeah,
no idea. No, I mean so clearly i'd come up
with that once before. And where did I come with names?
I mean, for you know, I'll do things like, oh,

(08:03):
you know where I went once? There used to be
a Facebook group called I went to a proper English
boarding school, and I would go there and like, look
at the names of people who are there, because most
of them were they were either British or they were
coming from like Hong Kong, and you could usually tell
which was which and so you come up with these
you could see these more kind of traditional names. And

(08:23):
I did during my gap year. I did go to
a Church of England all girls boarding school, so and
I still have my little guidebook, I mean, like the
list of roster, so I can still like look at
names there, you know, because these would be you know,
very middle to upper middle class girls. I I don't
think there were any aristocrats there. There may have been

(08:45):
people who were like tangentially involved, but they would have
had like come from that kind of name pool. And
then you know, for titles and things like that. I
would often just look at the addresses, like renames of
roads and towns and villages and houses and stuff like that.

Speaker 2 (09:00):
I don't know, the name Featherington is so distinct. I mean,
Bridgerton and Featherington are so it's like they're so they're
so great, but they're so unique, you know, I mean Featherington,
it's hysterical.

Speaker 3 (09:18):
Can I point out that people have ascribed to me
doing the easter egg of making them Featherington's because of
Penelope's quill And.

Speaker 2 (09:26):
Absolutely was I wish I was that smart?

Speaker 3 (09:32):
Can I tell you, Oh my gosh, I almost hit
the floor when Mindy Kaling, who you've probably met her
because you probably know everybody. But I think she's incredible. Okay, okay,
Mindy for listening. I think you're incredible. But she tweeted
at one point, you know, thinking you're a Bridgerton when
but finding out you're really a Featherington something like that,
and I was like, tweet like again, I'm doing what

(09:54):
you're doing where I'm like making like gestures that nobody
can see. But that was like incredible. You know the
fact that like people like know what these family names
mean in terms of vibes and whatever.

Speaker 2 (10:06):
Oh my gosh, yeah, no, it's it is and it
you really do sort of set up these patterns of,
you know, immediately how you feel about somebody because the
Bridgertons have a solid name. It's a bridge. The feather Tints,
I don't know that we find feathers that dressed worthy
as opposed to being quills. So somewhere, if I was

(10:29):
your psychiatrist, I would say, oh, I don't know something
about your deep subconscious apparently is projecting things.

Speaker 3 (10:35):
You are definitely reading more into this than like I
ever ever planned. But okay, you can you can who
knows I was always the person in English class in
high school going like, why do you know we analyze this,
but why do we think the author was actually thinking
about any of this one like she wrote it and so,
and then the teacher being like, well does it matter
if it's how we analyze it.

Speaker 2 (10:56):
I'm like, well, yeah, I don't know, but it's where
you can say, like, but how these people are dead?
We can't even ask them. We'll be right back after
the shortbreak. Welcome back to Bridgerton the Official podcast. Some

(11:18):
of the fun in going from book to screen is
expanding and adapting the blueprint of the character laid out
by Julia's novels. Showrunner Jess Brennell and I talked about
fleshing out and finding three dimensions to Violet and Portie
within the scripts and what these two seemingly absolutely totally
different mamas have in common. So when you read the books,

(11:40):
what did you take away from the books about the
mothers of the Ton and how do you want to
see these characters evolve over the course of seasons.

Speaker 4 (11:51):
Well, I'll say first, when I think about the differences
between Lady Bridgerton and Lady Featherington, I actually think that
they have more in common than they do differences. You know,
they both are so devoted to their families. They would
do anything for their kids. Lady Featherington just has had

(12:13):
a lot more bad luck than Violet. She had a
loveless marriage, she's had financial woes, and she probably never
had a good example of what love looks like if
I'm guessing. So, she loves her children I think, just
as much as Violet, but maybe doesn't know how to
show it. Whereas Violet, who you know, had the love

(12:35):
of her father, she knows what it's like to receive
love and to give love. So in terms of evolution
for the characters, I would love to see Lady Featherington
find a way to express that affection and love that
she has for all of her daughters, but especially Penelope,
in a more direct way. And you know, for Violet,

(12:59):
I would also like to see her allow maybe some
love into her life again that isn't just the love
of her children, because you know, she's so self sacrificing,
but I think she deserves to put herself first for once.

Speaker 2 (13:14):
Yeah, And I think, you know, going back to Lady
Featherington for a second. Two Look, I look at that
and she didn't have an inheritance. She never got like
a step up. She from what I can tell from
season one, that was not an ideal marriage. And he's
created a whole load of problems. They're heading towards being,

(13:36):
you know, broke, And people say, oh, she's conniving and terrible,
but I think in a way in regency world, she's
just resourceful because she has to figure out ways of being.
And yeah, she's a social climber because she needs to
be a social climber. It's not and if you even
want to call what she does climbing, it's just be
included to a large degree, you know. And it is

(13:58):
a sort of market contrast with Violet. The flip side
for Violet is she did have the perfect love and
she did. She has involved, and I think engaged all
of her efforts and emotions in raising her children and
making sure that they are well taken care of. So
watching her get to a place where, I mean, eventually

(14:20):
the kids will be out of the house, I mean
it's going to take while we have a lot of children, y'all, soo,
but you do sort of feel like she's going to
have to get to a place where she she doesn't
she does something besides worry about two's going to get
married and how this is going to work and that
they get married for love, because that's also a lot

(14:40):
of responsibility, this getting married for love thing.

Speaker 4 (14:43):
Yeah, yeah, she's going to have to pick up more
than just like a pottery hobby, you know, the last years. Like,
I don't know if that's going to be enough to
get her through. Her entire meaning in life is about
her kids, and I think it's going to be tough.
And you know, on the Lady Featherington comparison, who's to

(15:03):
say if Violet had the same financial woes that Lady
Featherington had, she wouldn't start like a fake gem mind
scam with her cousin.

Speaker 5 (15:12):
You know, it's totally possible.

Speaker 2 (15:15):
Look, and I know, I know we saw in Queen Charlotte.
If you all have seen Queen Charlotte, it's Lady Danbury
is trying to help Violet get along with her life.
And look, there's there's some heavy stuff that's happened between
the two of them, which everybody deals with with either
strong SIPs of unknown liquor or tea. And I do

(15:40):
think it sort of opens the door to what is
what does Violet really think about everything?

Speaker 6 (15:45):
You know?

Speaker 2 (15:46):
Which I think is also where where is her head at?
And and I think I think I want to see
more of Lady Danberry and Violet too, because I feel
like that's a relationship that we've dug into sort of superficially.
But Queen Charlotte, then we got a whole nother layer
in there, and we are further to go there. The

(16:08):
thing that I feel like we got in Queen Charlotte
was this idea that there's a lot of there's a
little bit unfinness business between Lady Danbury and Lady Bridgerton,
and I feel like we've had in the past couple
of seasons we sort of scraped the surface on their relationship.
It's been very it's busy. Mama's trying to get the

(16:29):
marriages working and the conniving in season one of making
sure that Simon behaved, and then you know, season two,
it's the sort of it's helping her navigate, first of all,
sticking her bigfoot, Lady Danbury's big foot in the Edwina
Kate situation, going Edwena's right for for Anthony, and they're

(16:50):
sort of progressing. But I think Queen Charlotte's sort of
like up for obvious reasons for all of you who
saw it burst open this world, I think I'm just excited.
Do you have anything to say about like season three
and where you think that relationship's going to go or
what you're excited to see.

Speaker 4 (17:08):
Yeah, well, first of all, I'm really grateful to Shonda
for the backstory of their relationship on Queen Charlotte because
it gives us so much more depth between those two women.
You know, in seasons one and two, like it made
sense why Lady Danberry was so involved in season one
because she has that connection to Simon. In season two

(17:29):
she also had a connection to the Sharmas. But when
we got to season three, we were going she always
ends up involved in a Bridgerton relationship. What reason are
we going to create this year? And it's no, we
don't have to manufacture anything. There is this real depth
between these two women, between these two families, and Lady

(17:52):
Danberry has a real reason for her connection to the Bridgertons.
So knowing that allowed us to go a lot deeper
with them in this upcoming season and we're continuing on
I would say, in a small way, from the spin
off to look further under the hood and focus not
only on their relationship in terms of meddling and scheming

(18:16):
with the kids, but what do they actually mean to
each other and why is something that we will be
poking at even further.

Speaker 2 (18:25):
That's yeah, I can, I can hardly wait. And they're
so funny together.

Speaker 4 (18:30):
I mean, I mean, every time I'm on set with Adua,
I just tell her I go master class, masterclass, and Ruth, like,
Ruth brings so much humor to lines that I didn't
realize were funny, just these minute expressions on her face.
She's They're both incredible to watch.

Speaker 2 (18:48):
Oh yeah, and I I mean, I can watch Lady
Danbury read a whistle down for like six hours, just
the same shot. It's it's it's all good to me,
it's all good. So in the business called show, there's
an old adage that ninety percent of directing is casting. Now,

(19:09):
I'd say Bridgarton requires a whole lot from every department truly,
but our cast is constantly wowing us with their brilliance.
Polly Walker, who plays Porsche, and Ruth Gemmel, who plays Violet,
are absolutely no exception to that fact. These women are
such incredible actresses. They are capable of stealing a scene

(19:32):
with just a look. Here's a peek into Polly and
Ruth's thoughts on the complex and fascinating women they portray.
Here's Lady Featherington herself, Polly.

Speaker 6 (19:46):
I always get slightly hurt on Porsche's behalf when people go,
oh my god, she's so horrible and she's so mean,
and she's so pushy, and she's such a terrible mother.
And I think I totally disagree. I think that she's

(20:06):
a very good mother. It wasn't the era of her
sentiments and for talking through one's feelings. You know, her
role was to get her daughters married in the best
way possible, and she accomplishes it with very with no
help from anyone. Actually that's not true. She has help

(20:28):
from Valley, her and Penelope. You know, they've been on
a journey in their relationship, for sure. I mean she
certainly kind of overlooked her, and you know, imagine that
she would never marry and she'd just be her little
companion through life and with her books, which she would
doesn't understand why anyone would want to read a book,

(20:50):
but you know she'll be with her and she'll keep
her company. So I think she underestimated Penelope massively, you know,
but Penelope was a dark horse and kept things hidden.

Speaker 2 (21:04):
And here's the divine Lady Bridgerton Ruth Well.

Speaker 5 (21:08):
I guess where we left off was Queen Charlotte, and
it became very obvious that having witnessed two of her
children fall in love and be happy. I think it's
really resonated with her how much she misses her husband,
how much she misses that intimacy, And with her great

(21:32):
friend Lady Danbury. I think they realize that it's time
that she sort of steps back into society. So that's
where we meet her. They've already she's already kind of
announced to Lady Danbury if you like that. You know,
she'd like to see a bit of life again. Really,
So that's where we are. And you know, also there

(21:53):
is the usual thing of I have another child out
in society, and I never stop with my intent on
marrying them all off. I always go back to and
dip in and out of the books. And I know
we're very different. We've sort of taken storylines in slightly
different ways now, and so going back to the books

(22:15):
is helpful. And unhelpful. And one of the things that
I've always loved in the books is that she makes
all her children dance with Penelope. She keeps sort of
bringing her in the fold, and I absolutely think she
knows where this is heading. I mean, she's one of
these women who just understands her children better than the
children do.

Speaker 4 (22:32):
Really.

Speaker 2 (22:35):
Thank you so much to my special guest Ruth Gemel,
Polly Walker, Jess Brownell, and Julia Quinn. I'm your host,
Betsy Beers, and thank you for listening to Inside the Time.
Do you have a favorite Violet or Porsche moment so
far in the series, any predictions for season three? Share
them in reviews. I'm going to say it again. We

(22:56):
love it when you share it in reviews. It lets
us know you're listening and we're desperate to know what
you think. So remember anything what's going on with Newton?
Ask us we love it and guess what? All right, So,
the final episode of Inside the Ton releases this week.
Subscribe now so you're alerted as soon as it drops.

(23:17):
Oh wait, did I mention it's all about Colin Bridgerton,
the most eligible bachelor of the season. You're not gonna
want to miss This.

Speaker 1 (23:28):
Bridgerton. The official podcast is produced by Shondaland Audio and
Wonder Media Network. This show is executive produced by Sandy Bailey,
Alex Alcea, Lauren Homan, Jenny Kaplan, and Emily Rudder. Our
producers are Sarah Schleid, Edie Allard, and Carmen Borca Carrio.
This episode is edited by Jenny Kaplan and Emily Rudder.

(23:49):
Our associate producers are Lauren Williams and Akia mcnight. If
you haven't finished binging Bridgerton, please head to Netflix so
you can enjoy these spoilers with us each week. For
more podcasts from Shondaland Audio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts,
or wherever you listen to your favorite shows
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