‘Bridgerton’ Author Speaks Out on Fan ‘Disappointment’ Over Gender-Flipping Francesca’s Love Interest: ‘Grant Me and the Team Some Faith as We Move Forward’

“Bridgerton” author Julia Quinn has taken to social media to address upset fans of the Netflix series following the Season 3 finale, which included a dramatic change from Quinn’s novels in gender-flipping Francesca Bridgerton’s love interest. While Season 3 was primarily devoted to the blossoming romance between friends Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan), it also tracked the courtship of Francesca (Hannah Dodd) by John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin (Victor Alli).

In the “Bridgerton” Season 3 finale, Francesca and John get married and spend their final days with her family before relocating to Scotland. Fans of the “Bridgerton” novels know that in Francesca’s book, “When He Was Wicked,” their marriage is disrupted when Francesca meets John’s charming cousin, Michael Stirling. Book readers got a shock then when the Netflix series introduced John’s cousin on screen as Michaela Stirling (Masali Baduza), gender-flipping the character and presumably changing Francesca’s sexuality.

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Quinn acknowledged on social media that some fans have expressed “disappointment” in the decision to change Michael to Michaela. When the latter version of the character debuts at the end of “Bridgerton” Season 3, Francesca is clearly full of butterflies.

“Anyone who has seen an interview with me from the past four years knows that I am deeply committed to the ‘Bridgerton’ world becoming more diverse and inclusive as the stories move from book to screen,” Quinn wrote in a statement. “But switching the gender of a major character is a huge change, and so when Jess Brownell first approached me with the idea of turning Michael into Michaela for the show, I needed more information before conferring my agreement.”

“I trust Shondaland’s vision for ‘Bridgerton,’ but I wanted to be sure that we could remain true to the spirit of the book and of the characters,” Quinn added. “Jess and I talked for a long time about it. More than once. I made it clear that it was extremely important to me that Francesca’s abiding love for John be shown on screen. 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 writing about Fran’s love for John would take away from Michael’s role as the eventual romance novel hero.”

Quinn said that she is “confident” after her discussions with Brownell that “when Francesca has her ‘Bridgerton’ season it will be the most emotional and heart-wrenching story of the show,” even with a gender-flipped character.

“Thank you to readers and fans for your feedback,” the author added. “I am grateful for your understanding and touched by your deep commitment to the characters of the ‘Bridgerton’ world. I ask that you grant me and the Shondaland team some faith as we move forward. 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.”

In an interview with Variety following the Season 3 finale, Brownell noted that she had a lot she couldn’t say about gender-flipping Michael to Michaela.

“I’m cautious about talking about it in detail now, because I want people to see how it’s going to play out,” the showrunner said. “And I’m not trying to be withholding, it’s just difficult to talk about the thought and the research that went into it without talking about what’s to come. And I’m just trying to be protective of what story we want to tell for Season 4 and beyond.”

However, Brownell did stress that “Bridgerton” is “a show about happily-ever-afters” and thus she’s not interested in telling a story about “queer trauma” with Francesca.

“We really want to see queer joy. And if we’re going to tell a queer story, we would like to find a way for there to be a happily ever after,” Brownell said. “So we have done a lot of research to figure out how we can achieve that within the confines of our world. And after people see the next couple of seasons, I’ll be able to talk about that more.”

“Bridgerton” Season 3 is now available to stream in its entirety on Netflix.

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