Bridgerton Season 3 Is Queer – But Not For The Reason You Think

According to Bridgerton showrunners, Season 3 of the show is finally showcasing a queer romance. But where is it? So far, we’re four episodes in and the only gay thing about the show is that ten-foot-tall wig with the mechanical swans that Queen Charlotte wore to the Temu version of Swan Lake. Related: Have we ever seen her standing?

That’s not to say that Season 3 isn’t beat for the gods. The costumes, the swoons, the sighs, the string quartet versions of pop hits … Everything is serving. There are just enough close-ups of Penelope’s heaving breasts. (Does she need an inhaler?) There are also lovely shots of Penelope and Colin collapsing onto beds dramatically. And speaking of drama, there’s a hefty dose of that as well: For most of the season’s first four episodes, you hope and pray that Penelope will snap and set someone’s Persian rug on fire. 

We have receipts, though! In April, showrunner Jess Brownell told Pride: “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.”

So, did we all miss something? 

Well, you see, Season 3 is queerer than you think.

There’s Penelope, first of all. She’s an outsider who struggles to reconcile her desires (read books) with society’s expectations (pretend to read books). She wants freedom – freedom of thought, freedom of expression – but dislikes the conventional ways of arriving there (entering the traditional marriage market). So, she holds herself back. She lowers her expectations and seeks comfort over happiness. She chooses a 19th-century vegan over love. Now, swap out “read books” for “kiss people of the same sex,” and replace “19th-century vegan” with “traditional heterosexual love interest.” Suddenly, you have the tragic love story of every closeted queer person on the planet. 

Then there are those stolen moments. When Penelope repairs Colin’s hand, the brief touch sets her cells ablaze. You know she remembers that touch forever – harbors it, nurtures it, summons it, devours it. What queer person hasn’t felt this way towards a straight crush? As one character puts it, “Once you have performed your function and found your match, you are free.” But is the soul free in a loveless marriage? 

Then there’s those supporting characters. Benedict appears to be oriented towards women; and yet, he gravitates towards the emotionally unavailable one. Similarly, queer people avoid emotionally transparent arrangements, at least when reacting to trauma. We often bar ourselves from all-consuming love, fearful of true freedom. 

There’s also Francesca, who shuns the dances and lemonades and endless conversations, opting instead for meaningful silences. In fact, when a rakish suitor makes a sensual comment to her, she balks. The only times she lights up are when she’s discussing, performing, or being recognized for her music. Is she asexual? Sapiosexual? In both cases, she’s queer.


Oh, and there’s Eloise, who is the most queer-coded of the bunch. She’s always preferred Wollstonecraft to Austen, philosophy to embroidery; she scoffs whenever traditional marriage is mentioned. But above all, she thrives at the borders of society. It’s here where she deploys her repartee and charm, delighting women and men alike, rising above her station. Trapped in a heterosexual marriage, she’d wither. 

However, the showrunner did tease that someone will be coming out – and in that spirit, I’ll be placing my bets on Eloise. After all, why else would Eloise have suddenly changed her entire personality to become besties with that girl Cressida? The only explanation is love. And side-note: I just realized that Cressida has the same name as Natalie Dormer’s character in the Hunger Games: Mockingjay. I really thought that all Hunger Games names were just, like, batsh&t sci-fi inventions that would never appear anywhere else, but apparently I was wrong.

So anyway, I would put good money on Eloise becoming the queer diamond of Season 3. Sure, I may be putting my foot in my mouth once Episodes 5-8 come out on June 13, but I’ll rest easy knowing that whoever comes out will have joined a very queer story, even if only subtly so. Each of these characters vibrates with queer themes, and a queer theorist would have a heyday with this story – or any story from Regency England, for that matter. That said, I will be very mad if literally no one comes out, since the showrunners have teased it so much. Plus, there’s no way that they were only referring to that brief moment in Season 3 when the two sex workers make out. No way. Please tell me no. I will die inside. 

(Please let it be Eloise.)

About the author

Evan E. Lambert

Evan E. Lambert is a journalist, travel writer, and short fiction writer with bylines at Business Insider, BuzzFeed, Going, Mic, The Discoverer, Queerty, and many more. He splits his time between the U.S. and Peru and speaks fluent Spanglish.