“I can’t wait for people to get to know her more,” Brownell says. “I’m just sad that people are only getting to meet her for those 10 seconds at the end of season 3 because she’s incredible.” In fact, the role is so important that the producers flew her out from South Africa to do a chemistry read with Hannah Dodd, who plays Francesca. “She absolutely nailed it, and I remember the moment Hannah met Masali. After Masali left, she said, ‘Well, that’s her.’ Hannah could feel it. [Masali] and I have had a lot of talks about the weight and importance of her role. And she’s really stepped into it with just wonderful energy.”

Up until now, there hasn’t been a main queer relationship on the show—and fans have noticed. “Queer audiences haven’t gotten the chance to see themselves represented in a major way on the show, which is a show that is in so many other ways, so inclusive,” Brownell says. “So I would just ask people to channel some empathy for those viewers, and to understand the importance of us allowing those viewers to see themselves represented.”

Brownell goes on to add that there are “as many different kinds of queer experiences as there are queer people. We get to see a version of it with Benedict, and we’ll get to see a very different version of it with Francesca in the future.”

Victor Alli as John Stirling, James Duke as Minister Hughes, Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in episode 308.


But if season 4 doesn’t focus on Benedict or Francesca, then it might very well be fan favorite Eloise, he subject of the fifth book, To Sir Phillip, With Love.

“I think we can be frank about the fact that it’s either Benedict, Eloise, or Francesca—it’s one of the three,” Brownell says. “All three of them have a lot of growth still ahead of them, and that’s very intentional. I’ve seen people saying, ‘Well, if it’s any one of the three of them, then they would need X amount of growth to happen ahead of their season.’ We don’t approach it that way. We want to save as much growth as we can for that person’s season and actually start them as much at the beginning of their journey as we can so that we can see the way they evolve in conjunction with their love interest.”

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