Bridgerton fans are celebrating one storyline in the finale. It wasn’t actually in the books.

Bridgerton fans are delighted to learn that one of the show's characters has a queer love story coming.

And no, we're not talking about Benedict Bridgerton — although the unmarried brother did have a threesome with a man and woman in the latest season. Good for him!

In the final episode, Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd) has just married her husband John Stirling (Victor Alli) with the couple set to relocate to Scotland. At the Featherington ball, John introduces his cousin, Michaela Stirling (Masali Baduza), to Francesca, who is rendered speechless, suggesting the beginning of a crush.

Fans of the Julia Quinn book series will know this character well. Michaela is the gender-swapped version of Michael Stirling, Francesca's love interest in the When He Was Wicked novel. (PSA: the current season is based on Romancing Mr Bridgerton.)

If you're a little confused over what happens to Francesca and John in the book series, then big ol' SPOILER ALERT...

John Stirling introduces his cousin Michaela. Image: Netflix. 


John dies. Yep, prepare yourselves for that heartbreak when Francesca's season drops in approx 20 years' time (based on the schedule for the upcoming season).

But don't worry, Francesca doesn't just instantly rebound with Michaela — they only get together four years after John's death, as they rekindle their relationship and fall in love. Okay, I'm crying.

Showrunner Jess Brownell said the decision to make Francesca's love interest a woman was one she didn't make lightly. "Deciding to tell a queer story with Francesca, I spoke with Julia Quinn, I got her blessing," Brownell told Teen Vogue.

"We talked about the fact that with almost any single book, there would be a side of the fandom that would be disheartened to see their favourite characters changed. I don't think that there is any book that wouldn't happen with, so for me, again, it came back to story, and it came back to character. Because Francesca's book resonated [with me] in the way that it did, it felt like a natural adaptation."


Francesca and Violet Bridgerton. Image: Netflix. 

Brownell told TheWrap that when she was reading Francesca's book, she saw herself in the character and decided it would be befitting to tell the show's first queer love story. 


"As a queer woman, I really identified with her book. Her book talks a lot about how she feels different and doesn't know why," Brownell said.

"I think Julia Quinn intended that to be more about the fact that she's more introverted than the rest of her family, but I think for many queer people, that sense of feeling different and like an outsider is something we carry with us from the time we're young."

The showrunner added that with a new actress brought in to play Francesa (Dodd replaced Ruby Stokes, who played the role for the first two seasons), the character had a clean slate "to set up the storyline with her being a queer character from the beginning". In one early scene in season three, Francesca admits she never aspired to have a husband in her younger years, unlike the other young women in the Ton.

Listen to the hosts of The Spill discuss the Bridgerton sex scene. Post continues after podcast.

The franchise has previously featured one heartbreaking queer love story, as depicted between Brimsley and Reynolds in Queen Charlotte, but the showrunner said they hoped that Francesca and Michaela's romance would be a departure from the trope of LGBTQIA+ love stories tainted by tragedy in pop culture. 

"I think it was important for me in planning a queer story to think about how we might be able to tell a happily ever after and show queer joy, which we don't always get to see in period pieces," Brownell told Teen Vogue.


"There are some good examples from history, without giving too much away, of women like Francesca, who are able to carve out happily ever afters. How much do I say at this point? Well, that's all I'll say. I can't say much more without giving away plot."

The gender-swap in season three has met mostly enthusiastic responses online.


However, some book loyalists have expressed concern that Francesca's infertility struggles depicted in the book will no longer play out in the series.


But aside from changing Michael's gender and name, the showrunner promised that Bridgerton plans to stay loyal to the storylines in the book.

"Book fans know where we're heading with that story," Brownell told TheWrap.

"We do plan to stick pretty closely to Francesca's book other than the gender-swap. There are certain elements of the book that will have to be altered. But actually, we found that we're able to adapt the book fairly accurately, so people can expect it to play out in a similar way."

Feature image: Netflix. 

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