Is Netflix’s Bridgerton already setting up its promised queer romance?


While Bridgerton’s alternate history means the show is already much more racially diverse than other Regency-era romances, the show so far has still been very heteronormative and deeply patriarchal, even with Queen Charlotte ruling. If women can’t even inherit property without a man or an heir, they definitely can’t kiss other women (and same goes for dudes).

But new showrunner Jess Brownell told Refinery29 Australia that queer main characters will be featured in the show’s future seasons.

“I think this is a show about the many ways in which people love,” said Brownell. “So it only feels right to show all the ways in which people love, including queer love. So we are exploring queer love stories across the next couple of seasons,” she added.

Now, Brownell was tight-lipped about just which characters would have queer romances. But there are some strong contenders — especially when it comes to the Bridgerton family.

It’s obviously Benedict…

Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

All of the older brothers have had their share of sex and debauchery (thanks 1800s-era double standards!), but Benedict is still the only one who has seen a dude get it on with another dude. In the first season, he went to a wild party hosted by artist Henry Granville, and eventually learned about Granville’s clandestine relationship with another man.

And Benedict (Luke Thompson) is the most artsy-fartsy of the Bridgerton siblings. Being avant-garde and in touch with one’s artistic side is a stereotype that filmmakers and TV writers alike have used to indicate that a male character is queer for decades.

While all of the brothers aren’t super keen on finding a match, he’s the one who’s arguably put the least effort in, and shown the least interest in, actually courting a woman. Before Anthony met Kate, he was smitten with his opera singer mistress. And Colin even proposed to Marina Thompson back in season 1. But Benedict’s only really been interested in the sexual part of relationships. It could be that he’s missing a certain spark.

This season, he strikes up yet another sexual relationship with a new female character. This time, though, Lady Tilley Arnold (Hannah New) is a widow, and described by Deadline as a ”living life on her own terms with financial independence and sexual freedom.” In the first half of season 3, we certainly see her hold her own with the men of the Ton — but could that sexual freedom mean opening Benedict’s mind beyond heterosexuality?

… unless it’s Eloise

Eloise and Cressida sitting in an opera box

Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Eloise (Claudia Jessie) has rejected societal conventions from the very first season. She doesn’t want to get married at all and would rather wax on about the rights of women. She and Penelope once bonded over this, back when Eloise was inspired by Lady Whistledown. Of course, that got a wrench thrown into it, but Eloise constantly seeks female friendship in a way that we don’t really see with the other female characters her age, who are more preoccupied with finding a proper suitor.

Female characters who speak out against marriage and traditional social norms often end up coded as queer when it comes to most movies and TV shows, particularly ones with historical settings. Even if they’re not textually presented as queer, many fans spark to these characters and claim them.

Even though she had a bit of a flirtation with a charming newspaper boy in season 2, Eloise’s closest relationships outside her family are with other women. This season, we see her grow closer with Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen), which brings a nice depth to Cressida’s Mean Girl antics. Both Eloise and Cressida confide in each other about wanting to live their own lives without being married. And we see them seeking out each other’s company at events, in a way that almost plays out like a traditional courtship.

When asked about possible queer-coding in Eloise and Cressida’s relationship, Madsen told Decider that she’d be stoked if that was the case.

“I absolutely love that,” she said. “That would be the best! Yeah, I mean, that would be cool. I like to think it would make sense because, like, she hasn’t bagged a guy. So, like, why not a gal?”

Eloise and Benedict share a particularly special relationship too, one that makes them very much at odds with their more marriage-focused family. They’re often seen together, making jests at the expense of the ladies and gentlemen of the Ton. They’re both the second-eldest son/daughter, both have a passion for something other than being a rich person. While some of the other Bridgerton siblings weren’t too keen on the idea of marriage in the first place (like Anthony and Francesca), Eloise and Benedict more openly reject the institution of marriage.

… Or Brimsley’s lover returns

Reynolds, a tall blonde white man, stands next to Brimsley, a short brunette white man.

Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Now there is an existing fully-fleshed out and beautifully poignant queer love story in the Bridgerton universe — but you’d have to watch the Queen Charlotte miniseries to experience it. As it turns out, the Queen’s butler Brimsley is in a long relationship with the King’s butler Reynolds. We saw the full extent of that relationship in the prequel, but we haven’t seen Reynolds in the modern day. He could be dead, but also we just haven’t seen a lot of King George at all, so maybe Reynolds is simply attending to his boss and we’ll see the gay butlers reunited!

… or it’s just a completely different character!

Lady Danbury lounging in a peacock-blue dress, hair down, not a care in the world

Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

There is, of course, the strong chance that the queer Bridgerton love story does not belong to one of the main siblings. After all, this is a show with a lot of characters and side plots. Maybe it’s a heavily featured side character (sapphic arc for Lady Danbury, perhaps?), or maybe it is someone introduced solely in an upcoming season to have a background romance.

Hopefully this promised queer love story is given just as much weight as the heterosexual ones. After all, this is an alternate history, where love conquers all and the showrunners aren’t exactly beholden to historical accuracy.

As Brownell says: “We have the privilege of living in this fantasy world which means we can push back against some of the reality of what happened in the 1800s.”


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