Who Is Michaela Stirling in Bridgerton?

With the final part of season 3 of Bridgerton finally upon us, a new character has entered the throes of regency. Here’s who Michaela Stirling really is, and why book fans are ready to see Francesca’s love story finally coming to light.

In the opening of season 3 of the hit Netflix series, Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd) makes her debut into society and finds a suitor. Queen Charlotte doesn’t find a diamond of the season, but Francesca focuses on John Stirling (Victor Alli), a quiet man she’s fond of playing piano with. He gives her a piece of sheet music signaling a quiet act of service to her, and the two eventually marry by the end of the season. He introduces her to Michaela Stirling (Masali Baduza), and the book lovers know that it hints at a greater love story that could be explored in future seasons.

Who is Michaela Stirling in Bridgerton?

Michaela Stirling is John’s cousin. The TV show gender-bent the character to be a woman since the character was written to be Michael in the books. The show foreshadows their upcoming love story when Michaela tells Francesca as they journey on to Scotland, “Every sordid detail John has told you about me is a lie. The truth is far worse.”

After reading Francesca’s book When He Was Wicked, showrunner Jess Brownell immediately wanted to focus on a queer love story for Francesca’s arc. “I really related to it as a queer woman,” she told Glamour. “Her book talks a lot about how different she feels, and I think Julia Quinn’s intention in the book is just that Fran feels different because she’s introverted. But for many of us in the queer community, that sense of feeling different is a part of our stories. I felt like there was fertile ground thematically in her book to nod toward telling a queer story. There are also some elements of her story that allow us to make sure we can tell a pretty happy ending for Francesca and Michaela. It was important for me in telling a main queer story for us to be able to give them a happily ever after, as we have with every other couple.”

Shortly after the first part of season 3 premiered on Netflix, Twitter and Reddit were full of speculation that this could happen. “did they make francesca gay on bridgerton??? or am i just reading into things? pls tell me if you got the same vibes,” tweeted one viewer. “Francesca Bridgerton is gay u heard it here folks,” wrote another, to which someone else replied: “Literally first episode of the season and i clocked it.”

In the books, John and Francesca are very close to Michael. But as all things go drama-wise in the Bridgerton universe, Michael secretly has feelings for Francesca, but decides to let his feelings go for the sake of his cousin. When John dies from an implied brain aneurysm, Michael inherits John’s earldom and feels overwhelmingly guilty. Francesca shares her grief with him, and finds out she’s pregnant with John’s child after many attempts. She ends up having a miscarriage and Michael feels really bad for wishing to have his cousin’s life.

Michael runs away to India for two years while Francesca holds down the fort of the estate. He eventually moves back into the estate and Francesca is totally well off on her own, but she wants to have children and is seeking to remarry. All of a sudden, there’s some romantic tension between Michael and Francesca, and with internal conflict of loving her dead husband’s cousin, who she had a platonic relationship with.

Colin finds out that Michael is still in love with Francesca, and he pep-talks him into becoming one of her suitors. He proposes, and they marry. A bunch of feelings arise with the same conflicts, but in the end, Francesca realizes that John would want her to be happy. She ends up going to John’s grave to confess her feelings for his cousin and the two live happily ever after.

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