Image Credit: ‘Bridgerton,’ Netflix

*CAUTION: Spoilers ahead for Bridgerton up through the Season 3 finale.*

Dearest gentle reader, the time has finally come: At last, Netflix’s hit Regency Era romance Bridgerton has confirmed there are some queer things going on in the ‘Ton!

Rumors have been stirring about the show’s potential first gay romance since before the current season’s premiere—rumors showrunner Jess Brownell had herself fueled when speaking with PRIDE back in April:

“This is a show about love in its many forms and I think that it’s only right for us to foreground queer love and to tell queer stories,” she said at the time. “I want to see more queer joy on my screens and that was definitely a priority for me when I stepped into the showrunner role.”

But when the first four episodes of Season 3 dropped back in May, fans were still searching for that so-called “queer joy” as the storyline largely focused on the courtship between Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlin) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton), which was absolutely delightful if not exactly what we were waiting for. (It did, however, introduce us to “Regency himbo” Harry Dankworth played by queer actor James Phoon.)

Fear not Bridger-heads: This week, four new episodes have dropped to wrap up Season 3, and they not only give us a sexy queer affair that does not disappoint, but they tease another yet to come!

Bridgerton Season 3’s hot & steamy queer throuple

Image Credit: ‘Bridgerton,’ Netflix

First up, the biggest, gayest news is the confirmation that the second Bridgerton son, Benedict (Luke Thompson), is indeed queer.

Viewers have long suspected this might be the case, as he’s always been one of the family’s “artsier” members, plus he’s had a close friendship with Sir Henry Granville (Julian Ovenden), previously the series’ only confirmed LGBTQ+ character.

But the first half of Season 3 threw us for a loop when Benedict met and began courting Lady Tilley Arnold (Hannah New)—maybe our Gaydar doesn’t work in the early 1800s…

However, when Benedict caught Tilley snogging with her hunky friend Paul Suarez (Lucas Aurielo), she seemed to sense something within the Bridgerton waiting to be awakened, and so she invited him to join them for a little bedroom ménage à trois.

*cue Britney Spears’ “Three”*

At first hesitant, Benedict can’t fight the feelings drawing him to Paul, and the pair share an electrifying kiss. Next thing you know, the trio are in bed together—again and again and again. Everyone’s clearly enjoying themselves, and when Tilley takes a moment to ask Benedict if he’d have preferred to stay monogamous, he counters, sharing she’s “opened [his] world.” Once you go poly there’s no turning back, eh?

“This season you watch him explore aspects of himself that he did not even know were there,” show creator Shonda Rimes shared in her notes on the third season. “I also think you watch him find the joy in the debauchery of life.”

While some fans still wonder whether Benedict might actually be gay, bi, or fit somewhere else along the spectrum, Luke Thompson maintains that it’s the very lack of labels that make the character’s arc so exciting at this point.

“Male sexuality, particularly, can feel boxy in the way that it’s explored,” the actor recently told Bustle. “Let’s be clear, it was an extremely repressive period. By our modern terms, the closest [descriptor] would be something along the lines of pansexuality—being attracted to the way that someone thinks and feels, regardless of gender… But what’s refreshing about it, certainly in the way that it’s being discovered at the moment, is that there is a sense of label-lessness about it.”

Besides, we already know more Bridgerton is in the works (though it could still be two years away!), so there’s still plenty of time for Benedict to experiment and figure out what best suits him. Maybe his ongoing journey with sexuality will even be the main thrust of Season 4?

The future of Bridgerton is looking ever more queer

Image Credit: ‘Bridgerton,’ Netflix

Or maybe that spotlight will belong to his sister, Francesca (Hannah Dodd), the sixth Bridgerton child, who is clearly experiencing some kind of awakening of her own.

It’s in the back half of Season 3 that Francesca marries the handsome John Stirling, the Earl of Kilmartin (Victor Alli), which is all well and good. But it’s then that John introduces his new wife to his cousin Michaela (Masali Baduza), and the instant spark between the two women is so powerful that Francesca momentarily forgets how to speak.

“I caution you: Every sordid detail John has spoken about me is a lie,” Michaela jokes with Francesca. “The truth is far worse.” Sorry, but if that’s not a secret flirt, we don’t know what is!

Now here’s what especially intriguing about Michaela’s intro—and where we venture deeper still into *spoiler* territory, so you’ve been warned: In the original novel series from Julia Quinn, 2004’s When He Was Wicked centers Francesca and sees her dealing with the sudden, tragic loss of her husband John to an aneurism.

In the wake of his passing, Francesca is comforted by John’s cousin, a man who has secretly harbored feelings for her for some time. His name? Michael. That’s right, it would appear that Bridgerton has gender-swapped the character for the TV adaptation! Meaning big things are likely ahead for Masali Baduza’s Michaela.

Speaking with Glamour, showrunner Brownell says she’s long identified with Francesca’s story in When He Was Wicked as queer woman: “I think Julia Quinn’s intention in the book is just that [Francesca] 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.”

Brownell is keeping mum about whose story, exactly, will take center stage in the upcoming Season 4, though she does narrow things down, teasing it’ll either be Benedict, Francesca, or their sister, the fiercely feminist Eloise (Claudia Jessie).

Not for nothing, fans have been ‘shipping Eloise and her good friend Cressida Cowper (played by Jessica Madsen, who recently came out herself!) from the jump, so it’s possible there’s a sapphic storyline to explore there, too.

All of that is to say: It seems like, whatever direction we head in, the future of Bridgerton is very, very queer.

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