One of the most challenging things in an ensemble series is making sure each character gets enough screen time. In Bridgerton, with eight siblings in the family, all of whom are expected to eventually get romance stories of their own, this is especially tough. You want to highlight the star of the season, without taking away the spotlight of others. In Season 1, the series focused on the oldest five siblings at the expense of the youngest three, largely by shipping off sixth-born Francesca to boarding school for almost the entire season. Now in Season 2, Francesca is again barely in Bridgerton, but the reason for her absence is a bit different this time.
Warning: Very light spoilers for Bridgerton Season 2 follow (because, like I said) Francesca is barely in it. The Bridgerton books are not rollicking ensembles the way the series is. In a book focused on Anthony, for example, readers don’t learn much about his other siblings. The only real sibling spotlight time comes at the end of each book, as the baton is passed from one sibling to the next, setting up the upcoming book in the series.
But the TV show has wholesale changed that. Anthony was given an entire love story in Season 1 to help set him up emotionally for Season 2. Benedict has not only had a whole artistic underground added to his circle of friends, but also an entire season at an arts academy to get fans ready for his Season 3 story. Likewise, Colin has had his messy relationship with Marina, while Eloise got her feminist ideas that have led to social ruin — both of which are part of setting up their stories further down the road.
But Francesca... has had nothing. To be fair, Gregory and Hyacinth haven’t had much either, as they are both still young children. But they’ve at least been given a chance to show some personality — and they have at least two seasons before it’s their turn to grow up. Francesca’s love story, on the other hand, is supposed to take place concurrently with Colin’s and Eloise’s. And yet, she has not had a chance to show herself to be the person she is. (Spoiler for the novel When He Was Wicked: Francesca is fantastic, so it feels extra offensive that she’s been left out so far.)
So, what gives? Putting her off in Season 1 could make a semblance of sense. But two seasons in a row? What does the show have against Francesca?
It turns out, nothing! The series showrunner for Seasons 1 and 2, Chris Van Dusen, promised the show is not avoiding her deliberately. The problem was that Ruby Stokes, the actor who plays Francesca, had an unavoidable conflict. Stokes is the lead in Netflix’s upcoming detective thriller, Lockwood & Co, and filming for that overlapped with the back half of filming for Bridgerton Season 2. “I love Francesca!” Van Dusen told TVLine ahead of Season 2’s release. “But we lost her midway through Season 2. After exhausting all other options, she unfortunately had to come out due to reasons beyond our control. Perhaps Season 3 will be the charm.”
IMO, Season 3 better be the charm. The series is running out of time to build up Francesca on par with her siblings, especially if Season 4 plans to run Colin, Eloise, and Francesca’s love stories concurrently the way the novels do.