The Queer Twist That Has ‘Bridgerton’ Fans Screaming

Liam Daniel/Netfilx
Liam Daniel/Netfilx

Although it was Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin’s (Luke Newton) season of Bridgerton that came to a close today, an entirely different character received quite a bit of hooplah over a big plot twist: Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd).

(Warning: Huge spoilers for Bridgerton Season 3 to follow.)

In the Bridgerton Season 3 finale, the newly engaged couple Francesca and John Stirling (Victor Alli) run into a familiar face at a big ball. John’s cousin Michaela Stirling (Masali Baduza) is in attendance and literally takes Francesca’s breath away. Francesca is so stunned by Michaela’s beauty that she forgets her own name. Talk about a meet cute!

But, wait…aren’t Francesca and John paired up? Well, yes, but in the books (and again, big spoilers ahead, now for future seasons) John later passes away. Francesca ultimately remarries with his cousin Michael Stirling. Now, that cousin has become Michaela. Although this twist isn’t totally official yet—Francesca and Michaela haven’t sealed the deal—this does seem to signal the first official queer main couple on the show.

A photo of Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, Victor Alli as John Stirling

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, Victor Alli as John Stirling

Liam Daniel/Netflix

Showrunner Jess Brownell did clarify what’s going on with Francesca’s upcoming marriage to John. In an interview with Glamour, Brownell stated that Francesca does love John, meaning that she’s most likely bisexual.

“I just want to say that I don't think that the reveal of Francesca's future queerness negates what she has with John,” Brownell said. “I personally don't believe in a hierarchy of relationships. Every relationship is different, and lots of different kinds of love are valid. The kind of love she has for John is very real.”

A photo still of Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton and Victor Alli as John Stirling

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton and Victor Alli as John Stirling

Liam Daniel/Netfix

The decision to gender-bend Francesca’s love interest has paid off. The Bridgerton fans chimed in early on Thursday morning to celebrate Michaela’s first appearance, especially elated at how lovestruck Francesca was at the ladies’ first meeting.

While most fans are enthusiastic about this change, there will be naysayers. In light of that, the Bridgerton community has already rallied behind Francesca and Michaela, ensuring that they’ll take down bullies and homophobes online.

Some viewers, however, are such fans of the books that they’re unhappy to see such a major change to Francesca’s storyline. One Bridgerton viewer slammed the show for scrapping Francesca’s infertility plot for “gay inclusivity.” They continued, “It’s not homophobic, it’s a CRIME.”

Well, no, as of 2024, being queer isn’t “a crime.” It’s delightful to see both Francesca and Benedict’s characters have new identities in the serial adaptation of Bridgerton, even if it is a big change for their storylines. We shouldn’t be forcing characters into their straight plots when so many viewers yearn for queer love interests—and especially not during pride month!

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