By now you’ve probably heard about the newest Netflix must-watch series Bridgerton, a Regency love story by Julia Quinn. I haven’t seen the show yet but knowing that Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes was an executive producer makes me confident that it’s worth the hype. Every time a romance novel is adapted into a television show or movie it’s a win for the genre, but for some reason the media refuses to give the romance genre credit where credit is due.
As with everything that reaches a fever pitch with the media these days, as soon as the media gets wind of something popular all of a sudden there is an endless assortment of content that breaks it down, offers speculation and builds hype. Unfortunately, the media is full of people quick to get a story out without doing the research needed to create a thoughtful article on the subject.
A recent New York Times article about Bridgerton, titled “For Television and Romance Novels – Love at Last?”, features a thought-provoking dive into the lucrative world of the romance industry and how, despite cornering the market in publishing (both traditional and self-publishing), romance novels have yet to translate to television and theatrical success.
For all of the well-made points in the article, there is one glaring error: The article never once mentions Tosca Musk or Passionflix.
How on earth can the contributions of Passionflix to the romance industry be overlooked?
Full disclosure for the sake of transparency, I’m a huge Passionflix fan. I’d go back in time and become a founding member if I could. I love their mission and what they’re doing to bring beloved romance novels to life in the most dedicated movies and series on a streaming platform made for fellow romance enthusiasts.
In 2020, even with the pandemic shutting down Hollywood, Passionflix moved full steam ahead with four movie releases and 5 short films (called Quickies) that were filmed and released in a matter of months, and they also completed production on one feature film and two original series. They also optioned countless books to be featured in future projects. Musk and her team have revolutionized the industry, working directly with authors to develop scripts and create movies that connect with the readers that love the books they’re based on. They were not only able to release new content throughout the pandemic but they have been able to get back to work faster than most studios so that they can release new content in 2021. They never stop, and even with everything going on in the world they continue to deliver top-rate content that is true to the books upon which the content is based.
That, of course, is the reason that Sylvain Reynard opted to work with Passionflix despite numerous options available to bring The Gabriel Series to life. Instead of one movie per book, Musk knew the details had to be perfect to do justice for Reynard’s work, so the first book in the series, Gabriel’s Inferno, was crafted into three feature-length films. And that’s just the beginning, as work on sequels Gabriel’s Rapture and Gabriel’s Redemption continues.
Passionflix is a Netflix for romance fans, just as AMC Networks’ Shudder appeals to horror fans. What’s more, though, is that Passionflix works closely with fans to take the pulse of the fandom to ensure that they’re doing right by fans (and authors) every step of the way. They are as inclusive as they come, ensuring that women are involved at every level behind the scenes.
How, then, could there be nary a mention of Passionflix in the NYT article?
It’s almost like the article’s author knew about Passionflix and opted to leave it out. Passionflix is at the forefront of the romance industry. It’s a glaring omission in yet another article that attempts to draw focus on romance in a positive light but ultimately disrespects the genre by the end of the article despite data that proves that the romance industry does, in fact, have a lot of power in the ratings.
Take, for example, this passage from the article:
When romance novels are adapted, they typically arrive on less prestigious channels, like Hallmark, say, or as low-budget made-for-cable-or-network movies. The elevation of romance to platforms like Netflix, which has a burgeoning interest in romance series (“Sweet Magnolias” and “Virgin River”), or Starz, which airs “Outlander,” a time-jumping, country-hopping epic based on the book series by Diana Gabaldon, is rare.
We’ll ignore the problematic “less prestigious” descriptor because these movies wouldn’t be made if not for the large audience and the possibility for profit. Don’t believe me? Hallmark Channel devotes two solid months to Christmas romances on both of its networks (Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) and guess what? Instead of rolling eyes they’re rolling in the proverbial dough as those Christmas movies were some of the highest rated programming available. According to Vulture:
A Timeless Christmas drew a same-day audience of 3.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched cable entertainment broadcast of the night and the entire week. In addition to outdrawing big cable guns such as 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way and Fear the Walking Dead, the film attracted more eyeballs than a number of major broadcast shows last week, including Superstore, Law & Order: SVU, Supermarket Sweep, and Dateline.
Passionflix is producing content (albeit much spicier content, in many cases) that rivals and surpasses Hallmark Channel. They’re an entire streaming platform dedicated to the genre. It must also be noted that there needn’t be a comparison between the two because there is room for both. It’s their existence and their success that should be the focus here.
Whether it was an intentional omission or a glaring oversight by the NYT doesn’t really matter because either way it’s part and parcel of the way the romance industry tends to be overlooked in general.
Now that Netflix has a romance series that’s gaining attention, it means the show and the platform are getting coverage from big media outlets who want to cover every aspect of the story. However, it’s quite possible that Gabriel’s Inferno pulled the same numbers for Passionflix. The big difference is that you don’t have the same kind of media attention for Passionflix that you do for Netflix because Netflix is so much more mainstream.
I don’t know about you, but I know I’m tired of this whole conversation. Why must romance continually be pushed to the side? Why does almost every article about the genre fall short? Why isn’t the media giving any credit to Tosca Musk and the Passionflix team for their contribution to the romance genre?
The fight continues.