Why everyone is talking about the ‘She’s All That’-inspired ‘Bridgerton’ staircase scene

This article may contain spoilers for Bridgerton Season 3.

Dearest gentle reader…

By now, viewers have had time to watch the first four episodes of the highly anticipated third season of Bridgerton. This season turned its focus to the love story between Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton’s (Luke Newton), who the internet has lovingly nicknamed #Polin.

After hearing Colin’s disparaging words about her at the end of Season 2, Penelope decides to take a husband. Thinking it will help her chances with finding a match, she decides to get a makeover, starting with her clothes. In the first episode, “Out of the Shadows,” Penelope abandons her family’s usual bright citrus colors and lets her hair down. When she arrives at the ball wearing an ornate emerald gown, everyone in attendance turns their attention to her as she descends the stairs.

That scene in particular was inspired by the 1999 romantic comedy, “She’s All That,” according to showrunner Jess Brownell. The movie features a scene in which geeky protagonist Laney Boggs, played by Rachael Leigh Cook, comes down the stairs to the song “Kiss Me” following a makeover in which she trades her glasses for a pair of heels she can barely walk on.

Brownell, told Final Draft’s “Write On” podcast that it was important to include a makeover scene in the season that pays homage to romantic comedies.

“Rom-coms have been the movies that have informed my approach to writing more than anything,” Brownell said, also listing John Hughes films andCan’t Buy Me Love” starring Patrick Dempsey.

But the writing and producing team also wanted to give a fresh spin on the trope to avoid any pitfalls.

“We talked a lot in the [writer’s] room about the fact that the makeover trope can be problematic in a lot of ways – to suggest that a woman should just take off her glasses and let her hair down and instantly she’s going to be so much more appealing.”

For “Bridgerton,” Brownell says they decided to make the makeover about Penelope’s internal journey and “her need to find her confidence and step into her truth.”

The references to rom-coms didn’t stop there this season. While the first two seasons portrayed the fake dating and enemies to lovers tropes, this season is all about two people going from friends to lovers.

At one point, Colin decides to help Penelope’s search for a husband by offering his advice, leading to several hilarious scenes in which she fails miserably at talking to potential suitors. But Penelope catches the eye of Lord Debling (Sam Phillips), causing a love triangle.

The show also further develops its resident mean girl, Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen). Like your typical rom-com bully, Cressida has been a rival to other characters also searching for husbands. In Season 1, she threatened to spread a story about Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Bassett that would have damaged both of their reputations.

This season, viewers see a more humanized version of Cressida as she desperately searches for a husband in her third year just like Penelope. If she doesn’t find a husband this year, her parents will find one for her.

“No mean girl is born a mean girl. There’s always an origin story. We realize that Cressida, in fact, comes from a difficult home where her parents aren’t nearly as loving as either the Bridgertons or even the Featheringtons,” Brownell added. “There’s room for some reflection and some growth in her as well.”

The first four episodes of Bridgerton Season 3 are now available to stream on Netflix. Bridgerton Season 3 Part 2 will premiere June 13.

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