Netflix’s Bridgerton quickly became a major hit after its premiere on the streaming platform last Christmas. The show subverted all the traditional norms of a British period piece – from race to sex to music. But just as soon as its popularity was cemented, we learned that Rege-Jean Page was not coming back for Season 2 in his role as Simon “The Duke” Basset. Fans were utterly shocked and dismayed by the decision but, apparently, at least one Bridgerton star was “not surprised” by the exit in the slightest.
We all love Regé and we're all going to miss Regé but it's not a huge surprise.
Lady Danbury gives a similar reasoning that the Duke himself gave for his exit from Bridgerton, which is that it was just part of “the arc of the show.” According to Adjoa Andoh, the show will follow the trajectory of Julia Quinn’s eight novels and reaffirmed that Season 2 needs to focus on the next of the Bridgerton children, Anthony (played by Jonathan Bailey). Executive producer Shonda Rhimes, who is known to kill off a main character or two, was actually “really shocked” by the huge response to Rege-Jean Page’s exit from the show, saying, “We gave them their happily ever after!”
It’s still disappointing to fans who feel like they just met and got to know Rege-Jean Page’s Simon. Adjoa Andoh shared that she will mostly miss the actor’s sense of humor, their shared love of punk music and his willingness to have a “good argument.” She stated:
He's a lovely man and he'll be my friend for life.
Many have speculated about the potential deeper reason at to why Rege-Jean Page left Bridgerton. But what seems even more fascinating is how his exit marks a major turn of events for a Shondaland show. Most often in Shonda Rhimes’ shows, the leading man in the first season continues deep into the storyline for a good, long while. Following the source material’s timeline complicates matters though, but perhaps like other characters who have exited a Shondaland show, Page’s character might make a reoccurrence in some capacity later on.
Nonetheless, Bridgerton was still a bonafide smash hit that dominated Netflix’s Top 10 for weeks. Adjoa Andoh said they figured it would be as much, given it was Shonda Rhimes’ first Netflix show, but it still surpassed expectations. She remarked:
It's sort of surreal because it all blew up as we were in lockdown. So it's like, 'Hurray!' from my kitchen.