So, who is Michaela Stirling? Francesca’s love interest in first Bridgerton queer storyline

The books give us a lot of insight into what’s going to happen

In the season finale of Bridgerton season three, we got the first look at what the show has been hinting for a long time: A queer love story. We met Michaela Stirling, whose character is going to bring a big change in the storyline for Francesca Bridgerton.

During the first part of Bridgerton season three, we saw Francesca show an interest in fellow introvert John Stirling, the Earl of Kilmartin. They bonded over a love of silence (same) and feeling outcasted in the Ton.

Their relationship grows even further in the second part of Bridgerton season three, as John continues to court Francesca. They get to know each other, before announcing their engagement. Lady Bridgerton being the protective mother she is, and someone who loves marriages for love, can sense is not quite right.

The couple still go ahead and marry before right at the end of the season, Francesca is introduced to John’s cousin, Michaela Stirling.

John Stirling and Francesca in Bridgerton season three

via Netflix

So, who is Bridgerton character Michaela Stirling?

So, Michaela Stirling (played by South African actress Masali Baduza) is John Stirling’s cousin. Francesca Bridgerton and Michaela Stirling meet right at the end of season three, and sparks fly immediately. The show has previously teased a queer relationship that will differ from the books, and their meeting paves the way for this.

“It will take a lot of people by surprise,” Victor Alli, who plays John Stirling, told Forbes of Michaela. “I remember Jess Brownell [Bridgerton show runner] on a Zoom call and she was telling me and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’.”

In an interview wirh Entertainment Weekly, Jess added she immediately saw the character as being a queer woman, after reading the book. “I really related to it as a queer woman,” she said. “There’s some themes in that book about Francesca feeling different. Julia Quinn just means it in terms of her being an introvert. But for a lot of us in the queer community, that sense of feeling different from a young age is a part of our stories. So, I felt like there was good thematic resonance telling a queer story with Francesca.”

Michaela Stirling in Bridgerton season three

via Netflix

Michaela Stirling is very different in the Bridgerton books

This storyline is very different to how it plays out in the Bridgerton books. John’s cousin is a man named Michael Stirling in the books, and he is very close to both Francesca and John when they marry.

John sadly passes away from an unexpected brain aneurysm two years later, and Francesca is left alone. Michael’s character is a bit of a “rake” shall we say, and the bachelor becomes the new Earl of Kilmartin when John unexpectedly dies.

However, after the death Michael flees out of grief, but returns for years later. At this point, Francesca wants to remarry and have children. Micheal had always had secret feelings for Francesca, and the couple fall in love and start a family.

So, it looks as though Netflix may stick to the book story, but with Michael actually being Michaela, and a queer love story. Get the tissues ready!

Bridgerton season three is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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