The latest news in the Ton is that Netflix is suing the creators of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.
Shortly after Bridgerton debuted on the streaming network, Abigail Barlow took to TikTok where she posed the question, “What if Bridgerton was a musical?” The singer-songwriter then proceeded to sing a verse she had written that was inspired by the show. The video quickly grew in popularity and together with her musical partner, Emily Bear, Barlow began to release more songs based on the series’ first season.
Within nine months, the songs had been turned into a concept album (which won Best Musical Theater Album at this year’s Grammys), and Barlow & Bear had been invited to perform at the Kennedy Centre in September 2021 for its 50th anniversary concert. The pair had also received praise from the show’s cast, author Julia Quinn, and Netflix for their creativity.
However, the streamer is now singing a different tune.
Netflix is suing the duo for “blatant infringement” in light of the recent concert held at the Kennedy Centre in which Broadway stars performed the album live. According to the lawsuit, Barlow & Bear appropriated others’ creative work for their own financial benefit.
“Bridgerton reflects the creative work and hard-earned success of hundreds of artists and Netflix employees. Netflix owns the exclusive right to create Bridgerton songs, musicals, or any other derivative works based on Bridgerton,” read the complaint. “Barlow & Bear cannot take that right — made valuable by others’ hard work — for themselves, without permission. Yet that is exactly what they have done.“
The network claims that the Grammy winners refused to negotiate a license to market and expand on their Bridgerton-related work, despite being told numerous times that their live performances were not authorized and would be considered copyright and trademark infringement.
In perhaps the biggest knock to the musicians, Quinn has shown support for Netflix’s lawsuit.
“I would hope that Barlow & Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, understand the need to protect other professionals’ intellectual property, including the characters and stories I created in the Bridgertonnovels over twenty years ago,” she said.
Shonda Rhimes, who created the television adaptation, issued a similar statement.
Barlow & Bear have yet to comment.