Michaela Stirling Wasn’t In The Bridgerton Books But Her Role Will Be Significant

Be warned: spoilers ahead!
A headshot of Michaela stirling in season 3 of Bridgerton
Image: Netflix

Season three of Bridgerton has finally arrived and with it, a brand-new character.

We say “brand-new” because this role was technically not in the books that the series is based on. We say “technically” because there was a actually a very similar character in Julia Quinn’s novels, however, they look a little different on-screen.

While the show’s third season focused on the romance between Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton, it also introduced the love story of Colin’s younger sister, Francesca.

Viewers watch Francesca strike up a romance with one John Stirling. However, it is the introduction of his cousin, Michaela in the season’s last episode, that tells us a lot about Francesca’s future storyline. In fact, Michaela’s arrival in the ‘Ton is actually a huge deal.

Read on to find out why.

Warning: Spoilers for Bridgerton season three and the Bridgerton book series ahead

Image: Netflix

Who Is Michaela Stirling?

Michaela Stirling is introduced to the audience in the final moments of Bridgerton season three, when she arrives at the Featherington sisters’ ball.

Played by Masali Baduza, she is introduced as the cousin of John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin, who has just married Francesca Bridgerton.

Is Michaela Stirling In the Bridgerton Books?

Michaela Stirling is not exactly a part of Quinn’s original Bridgertonverse. However, Quinn’s sixth novel, When He Was Wicked, features a character called Michael Stirling—who is John’s cousin.

Michael is introduced early in the story and Quinn details his fondness for Francesca, despite her being married to John.

However, things take a turn when John dies suddenly, and Michael inherits his title and responsibilities. Francesca and Michael subsequently form a deeper bond, united by their mutual grief. In order to avoid confronting his feelings for his cousin’s widow, Michael then flees to India for four years, and Francesca is left to manage to Kilmartin estate.

Michael returns to the United Kingdom around the same time Francesca decides she wants to remarry, and the pair quickly go from friends to lovers. They go on to marry and have two children together.

Image: Netflix

What Will Happen Between Michaela Stirling and Francesca Bridgerton?

Whether or not the series will follow a similar storyline to the novels remains to be seen.

Showrunner Jess Brownell has said the show would include a queer storyline at some point. She told Refinery29 Australia, “I think this is a show about the many ways in which people love. So it only feels right to show all the ways in which people love, including queer love.”

While Brownell did not specify which Bridgerton sibling this would involve, online, fans have speculated that it would either be Benedict or Eloise. However, Brownell recently told Deadline she has “been pitching the Francesca queer story from the beginning.”

“When I read her book, I, as a queer woman, really related to her book. Maybe in a way Julia Quinn didn’t intend, but a lot of Francesca’s book is about feeling different from her family and from the world around her and not really knowing why,” she told the outlet. “In the book, I think it’s mostly just about being introverted. But I think for a lot of queer people, not every queer person, but a lot of queer people, that sense of feeling different from the time you’re young, is part of our stories. So it felt like a natural one to gender bend.”

Unfortunately, it looks like we will have to wait until season four to find out more! In the meantime, we will be sure to keep you posted with any updates.

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