Justice for Cressida
Blonde woman in a pink floral dress sitting in a vintage room, looking pensively to the side, with a...

Bridgerton's Cressida Didn't Deserve Her Season 3 Ending

Where is her happily ever after?

Spoiler warning: Spoilers ahead for Bridgerton Season 3. Since Bridgerton Season 1 aired, Cressida Cowper has been the show’s most consistent antagonist. Whether she’s competing with Daphne Bridgerton for the attentions of Prince Friedrich of Prussia (who Daphne only used to make the Duke jealous, BTW) or purposefully stepping on Penelope Featherington’s new gown, Cressida was unlikeable, through and through. But as Season 3 progressed, fans saw a new, redeemable side of Cressida... right before she was exiled from polite society.

“This season turned me into a cressida cowper apologist,” one fan tweeted about Bridgerton’s latest installment — and it’s a pretty common sentiment. Throughout Season 3’s eight episodes, Cressida’s character went through a major evolution. As her friendship with Eloise Bridgerton grew, Cressida let go of some of her catty habits and became more focused on improving her own circumstances than tearing down others.

Case in point: Remember when Eloise accused Cressida of embarrassing Penelope by spreading the rumor that Colin was tutoring Penelope in the art of finding a husband — even though it was actually Eloise who caused the scandal? Cressida didn’t hold it against her new friend, but she did encourage her to practice some introspection.

X: @slv9917

All the while, Cressida was dealing with some serious bullsh*t at home. Still unmarried going into her third season, Cressida was under immense pressure from her family to find a match. When her flirtation with Lord Debling did not pan out, her father decided to set her up with a man three times her age — a man who made it clear that she wouldn’t be enjoying many freedoms once they were wed.

“Her tender eyes and ears will never be exposed to such filth,” he told her family, referring to music and art. “Of course, I do still expect babies... I would be happy with four or five.” Again, this man could have been her great-grandfather.

Still, Cressida did not receive any support from her family or her newfound bestie Eloise (who unfortunately could not give less of a f*ck about her friend’s fate). “cressida was being sold off to a man over thrice her age to be wed and bred and eloise didn’t bat an eye. like come on,” one critic on X wrote.

x: @LITTLEBIRDS

In contrast, as another unmarried woman who felt isolated from her family, Penelope was constantly portrayed as a sympathetic character. (Even Penelope’s misdeeds as Lady Whistledown were largely forgiven by viewers in light of her circumstances.) Despite being in the same situation, Cressida’s errors were painted as unforgivable, while Penelope’s were justified.

Some fans have picked up on this distinction. “Pen & Cressdia [sic] are a reflection of 1 another. Both types of bullies & have awful families. Only Pen is privileged: with [Lady Whistledown], [Bridgerton] Fam loyalty to her & her family wouldn't force a marriage to old man allowing spinsterhood,” one fan wrote on X, formerly called Twitter. “Cressdia [sic] didn't have that luxury & was made the villain for it.”

Without any other options, Cressida named herself as Lady Whistledown in a last-ditch effort to save herself from a truly horrible fate — and even when she attempted to blackmail Penelope, it’s for the same reason. The girl was desperate!

“centering cressida as the villain when she was only doing what she could to survive the situation she was in, calling her harebrained, a chit, etc etc …..BOOOOO,” one fan tweeted.

Cressida was actively fighting for her right to live freely.

She also taught yet a Bridgerton sibling a valuable lesson. When Colin attempted to persuade Cressida out of her blackmail scheme (which failed spectacularly and led to her demanding twice the money), Cressida taught him a valuable lesson about privilege, even if he didn’t recognize it.

ICYMI, Colin claimed to Cressida that “a family’s love is enduring” — meanwhile Cressida was actively fighting for her right to live freely, as both of her parents washed their hands of her. “That is the difference between you and me. You take for granted that you will always have your family’s support,” Cressida told him. Colin *also* told her that Penelope was someone “who has experienced a kind of loneliness surely neither of us can fathom” — again, while Cressida was on her own trying to save her future.

As one fan on X put it, “colin mansplaining loneliness to cressida cowper when she was about to be married off to a 70yo man is actually so unbelievable.”

X: @coloredseung

Although most of Bridgerton’s morally questionable characters ultimately find happiness, Cressida has not been not that lucky. In her last scene, she was packed off in a carriage alone to live in Wales with an aunt whose only goal is to tame Cressida’s spirit. No one — not even her mother — was there to watch her go.

“the fact that CRESSIDA was the one punished at the end of the season for trying to escape a marriage with a guy old enough to be her great grandpa is one of the worst writings ever. while pen gets her HEA after that pathetic pity show,” one fan summed it up. “this season was trash.”

Whether or not you agree with that overall take, the new and improved Cressida definitely deserved better. Here’s hoping she gets a redemption arc in Season 4.