What The Gender Swap Twist In The Bridgerton Finale Means For The Next Season

Get ready for Bridgerton’s first-ever LGBTQ+ storyline between Francesca Bridgerton and Michaela Stirling

michaela stirling

by Daisy Hall |
Updated on


If we had to fault Bridgerton – and believe us, it pains us to do so – we’d have to call out the lack of LGBTQ+ representation. As much as we love crushing over the male leads of each series (Rege Jean-Page, Jonathan Bailey and now Luke Newton) as they endeavour to find their perfect match, it hasn’t escaped our notice that all of their love interests are female. So far, we’ve only seen steamy, heterosexual couples pair up, one after another.

Until now that is. Because at the end – literally the last few moments - of Bridgerton series three, we were teased our very first LGBTQ+ storyline: the glimpse of something between Michaela Stirling, played by Masali Baduza, and Francesca Bridgerton, played by Hannah Dodds.

And whilst we’ve only seen a tantalising glimmer of the sexual tension between Michaela and Francesca, it seems that there could be plenty more to come in series four.

But the character of Michaela Stirling was something of a surprise to fans of the Bridgerton novels because in When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn, Francesca’s second love interest is actually a Mr Michael Stirling, not a Miss Michaela Stirling. (While Francesca has just married John Stirling, fans of the novels will know that union comes to an end).

Fans are absolutely delighted by the deviation from the novels.

Taking to social media, fans expressed their delight and surprise with one commenting, ‘Michaela. Did they say Michaela?!?! Michaela Stirling. Oh mama happy pride to this diva’ whilst another wrote, ‘Thank you thank you thank you Shondaland and Netflix and everyone involved for bringing the sapphic representation I’ve always wanted.’

Author of the Bridgerton franchise, Julia Quinn, has also shown her support for the adaptation of her novels to include an LGBTQ+ storyline saying, ‘I am grateful to the Shondaland team for showing me what I could do with my books. The team of the series is huge, but I am a single person. Imagining a gay protagonist in Bridgerton seems like a good idea to me because the goal of the saga has always been to show that all people deserve a happy ending.’

Already highly commended for its diverse casting, it’s great to see that Bridgerton are continuing to prove that they are at the forefront of representative TV. Bring on series four and the development of the romance between Michaela Stirling and Francesca Bridgerton.

So, who is Michaela Stirling?

Michaela Stirling was introduced to Bridgerton viewers in the final episode of series three, part two, when the Earl of Kilmartin – played by Victor Alli – aka John Stirling, introduced his new wife, Francesca Bridgerton, to his cousin Michaela Stirling. In the scene, Michaela joked, ‘I caution you. Every sordid detail John has spoken about me is a lie. The truth is far worse.’ Francesca is left so flustered she is barely able to speak.

Fans have since drawn comparisons between Michaela Stirling and a Michael Stirling from the Bridgerton books and spoiler alert, it seems we’re about to see a lot more of Masali Baduza on our screens because in the books, Michael Stirling goes on to marry Francesca after John dies in his sleep.

Whether or not this storyline will play out in exactly the same way, we’re yet to see. Considering we haven’t yet had an openly LGBTQ+ character yet, it will be interesting to observe how the other characters react to Francesca and Michaela’s upcoming romance.

Daisy Hall is a News and Entertainment writer on Grazia, specialising in TV and film meaning that you can count on Daisy for the latest (and best) recommendations.

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