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Netflix Sues Unofficial Bridgerton Musical Creators for Infringement After Live Performance

The TikTok-created piece won this year's Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album.

Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear
(© © Igor Kasyanyuk / Artwork: Samantha Bates)

Netflix has sued the creators of the Grammy-winning Unofficial Bridgerton Musical for infringement after a live performance of the show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, earlier this week.

Based on the streamed series of the same name, Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow's musical started life on TikTok and subsequently won this year's Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. It was the for-profit live show that caused Netflix to take action, after initially being supportive of the work on social media.

Netflix, which is producing its own immersive Bridgerton experience, said in their suit: "The live show featured over a dozen songs that copied verbatim dialogue, character traits and expression, and other elements from Bridgerton the series. It included dramatic portrayals of Bridgerton characters by Broadway actors, emoting through the performance of the songs that comprise the 'musical.'"

It has to be noted that unofficial musicals are no rarity — the likes of Friends, Stranger Things, and more have all been given unofficial stage parody shows. But it seems the particular issue in this instance was that the stage version used the TV show's logo without permission, with show-themed merchandise allegedly in the offing. According to the complaint, Netflix offered the writers a licensing offer that included live performances and further distribution of their album, which the authors allegedly turned down.

Netflix explained: "Defendants Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear and their companies ('Barlow & Bear') have taken valuable intellectual property from the Netflix original series Bridgerton to build an international brand for themselves. 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. 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 series itself is based on Julia Quinn's series of novels, following a well-respected yet scandal-prone family in early 19th-century England.