TV & Movies

Penelope’s Bridgerton Makeover Was Inspired By A ’90s Rom-Com

Showrunner Jess Brownell revealed some of her Season 3 influences.

Nicola Coughlan in 'Bridgerton' Season 3.
Liam Daniel/Netflix

Penelope Featherington’s Season 3 makeover can be attributed to a nostalgic romantic comedy. In Bridgerton’s new season, the character (played by Nicola Coughlan) has a major glow-up. In the first episode, at Lady Danbury’s annual ball, she ditches her trademark pastel colors, corsets, and gowns in favor of a dark and sultry look.

Showrunner Jess Brownell discussed some of the influences during a recent interview with First for Women, revealing that a scene from 1999’s She’s All That inspired Penelope’s transformation.

In the scene, Rachel Leigh Cook’s character, Laney Boggs, debuts a dramatic makeover to her friend Zack, played by Freddie Prince Jr.

“There’s this iconic moment where Rachel Leigh Cook walks down the stairs; she’s taken off her glasses, she’s put on a red dress and suddenly she’s instantly popular and beautiful,” the Bridgerton showrunner recalled, adding that her interpretation of the scene was adjusted “for modern audiences.”

“So Pen does have her makeover, but it doesn’t necessarily have the impact that she thought it would,” she continued. “Because the change that needs to happen is much more about her confidence than it is about her external impression.”

Rachel Leigh Cook as Laney Boggs in She's All That.Max / YouTube / 'She's All Thar'

Bridgerton’s Rom-Com Inspo

In an interview with Shondaland, Brownell talked in depth about her inspiration for the new episodes, revealing that her affinity for rom-coms can be felt throughout Season 3.

Naming Richard Curtis’ Notting Hill as one of her favorites, she said the work of Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle) is also embedded in the new story.

“There’s a sensibility in her work that I think you’ll find a bit of in this season,” she said. “Stretching back, I also love movies like An Affair to Remember and Roman Holiday, Bringing Up Baby, and The Philadelphia Story.”

Along with She’s All That, Brownell added that several “films that came out when I was a teenager,” like 10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless, also inspired the new season “because of the nostalgia.”