Shonda Rhimes is no stranger to fan rage—but nonetheless, the fan upset over Regé-Jean Page’s exit from Bridgerton has apparently caught her by surprise.
It’s not as though Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, has never born the brunt of fan rage—or the specific ire that tends to follow when you write off a beloved character. Still, in an interview published Tuesday—alongside the announcement that Netflix has granted Bridgerton two additional seasons, bringing the total count up to four—Rhimes told Vanity Fair that fans’ heartache over the Duke of Hastings’ exit has her “really shocked.”
Bridgerton arrived just in time to seduce us all during a frigid, isolated winter—and Page, an absurdly charismatic performer with seemingly no bad camera angles, was the beating heartthrob at its center. Netflix announced Page’s exit earlier this month—and some fans, it seems, are asking themselves whether it’s worth a return trip to this romantic fantasy land if Page is not there to greet them.
“[U]sually that happens when I’ve killed off somebody that’s been around for a while,” Rhimes told Vanity Fair. “Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive!”
“I don’t know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] is a different romance,” Rhimes added. “What would be the ever-after of this combo? I mean, really: What would Regé-Jean do, you know what I mean? We gave them their happily ever after! And now we have this next couple coming. And so yeah, I was like, whoa!”
Instead of the Duke of Hastings, Bridgerton Season 2 will center on Anthony Bridgerton—the oldest son in the family and, from what we saw in Season 1, a veritable hottie. Still, as VF’s Joy Press noted, fans are having a tough time letting go of their first love, Page. To that, Rhimes said, “I know, but he’s a busy man!”
And when asked about reports that indicate that Page turned down an offer to appear in cameos during Season 2, Rhimes echoed earlier statements that have been released, noting that Page’s contract was always a one-season deal. “Anything else that was extra and wasn’t really the plan when we started wasn’t the plan when we finished,” she said. That said, she later added that Page was invited to return in cameos during the show’s sophomore season, along with a few other characters not related to the show’s central family.