Much of the past 18 months must have seemed rather like a fairy tale to Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, the 20-something, newly internet-famous songwriting duo behind a popular fairy-tale musical.
In January 2021, they published the first of the TikTok videos that became the basis of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical,” a lyricized version of Netflix’s hit romantic fantasy created by Shonda Rhimes and set in courtly Regency-era Britain. Their TikToks were a hit, often amassing several million views each. An album followed. Soon they were meeting with Andrew Lloyd Webber in London. By fall, they were at work on a top-secret film musical they’d pitched to Margot Robbie’s production company. In April, they won a Grammy for “Unofficial Bridgerton.” Last week, they staged a sold-out version at the Kennedy Center, selling tickets for as much as $149.
But ah, gentle reader, your author regrets to inform you that Ms. Barlow and Ms. Bear’s charmed story has taken a dark turn. A scandal has erupted. Netflix is suing them. In a lawsuit that became public earlier this week, the entertainment giant alleges Barlow and Bear infringed on trademark and copyright around “Bridgerton” and the right to produce derivative work—like, say, a live version of “Bridgerton.”