‘Bridgerton’ Author Julia Quinn Says She Personally Approved Season 3’s ‘Beautiful and Moving’ Gender Swap

Fans likely have “the most emotional and heart-wrenching” season ahead of them, she adds, because John Stirling is so loved

Hannah Dodd, Victor Allii, Masali Baduza
Hannah Dodd, Victor Allii, Masali Baduza in "Bridgerton". (CREDIT: Netflix)

The decision to turn Michael Stirling into Michaela at the end of the 3rd season of “Bridgerton” was a positive move that happened after she and showrunner Jess Brownell had several conversations, series author Julia Quinn wrote on Instagram.

She explained, “I think we are going to end up with two stories, one on page and one on screen, and they will both be beautiful and moving.” Though some fans have disagreed, Quinn emphasized the potential for the swap to result in “the most emotional and heart-wrenching” season of the show to date.

Quinn began her post, “Many Bridgerton fans have expressed their surprise, and for some, disappointment in the twist at the end of Bridgerton Season 3 – that Michael Stirling, with whom Francesca eventually falls in love in ‘When He Was Wicked,’ would instead be Michaela.”

The author noted that she’s made it abundantly clear she is “deeply committed to the ‘Bridgerton’ world becoming more diverse and inclusive as the stories move from book to screen,” but she had to have several conversations with Brownell after she was first approached about swapping Michael’s gender.

“I made it clear that Francesca’s abiding love for John be shown on screen,” Quinn continued. “When I wrote ‘When He Was Wicked’ I actually had to fight to have the first four chapters, which establish that love, included. My publisher was worried that Fran’s love for John would take away from Michael’s role as the eventual romance hero.”

But Quinn pushed back, largely because she believed that if Francesca and John’s love for one another wasn’t appropriately established, “then their feelings of guilt at falling in love with each other after John’s death made no sense.”

The author is happy with the changes the show’s team made, she continued, and believes Francesa’s season will be “the most emotional and heart-wrenching” of the series to date. “Honestly, it may pack more of a punch” than the book, Quinn continued, “since John is getting a lot more time on the screen than he ever did on the page.”

“I ask that you grant me and the Shondaland team some faith as we move forward,” she added. “I think we are going to end up with two stories, one on page and one on screen, and they will both be beautiful and moving.”

Francesca (Hannah Dodd) and John Stirling (Victor Alli) were married in the final episode of season 3 of “Bridgerton.” The pair also announced their intention to move to Scotland following their wedding, and made the move with Francesca’s sister Eloise Bridgerton and John’s cousin Michaela (Masali Baduza). Francesca was introduced to Michaela just before the move, and was visibly flustered by the other woman.

Brownell explained the decision to swap the character’s gender to TheWrap in June. “As a queer woman I really identified with her book. Her book talks a lot about how she feels different and doesn’t know why,” she said. “I think Julia Quinn intended that to be more about the fact that she’s more introverted than the rest of her family, but I think for many queer people, that sense of feeling different and like an outsider is something we carry with us from the time were young.”

It felt “natural” to “not only to have a queer character on ‘Bridgerton’ for queer fans to see themselves in, but also to tell a story about the queer experience,” Brownell added.

The show has no intention to downplay Francesca and John’s love, she continued, but instead will “be continuing to explore for Francesca is more about how important or not passion is to her in a relationship.”


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