TV & Movies

Bridgerton’s Author Just Addressed The Gender-Bent Main Character

Julia Quinn acknowledged it was “a huge change.”

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in Netflix's 'Bridgerton' Season 3.

Bridgerton author Julia Quinn has weighed in on the reaction to Francesca’s love story. Spoilers ahead for Bridgerton Season 3.

In Season 3, which largely centers on the friends-to-lovers romance between Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington, viewers were also introduced to Francesca’s potential courter. Fans of Quinn’s original novel series had anticipated the introduction of the love interest, Michael Stirling, who the character marries in the sixth Bridgerton book after the sudden death of her first husband, John Stirling.

However, in the final episode of Season 3, it was revealed that the character of Michael has been gender-swapped to Michaela, portrayed by newcomer Masali Baduza, which suggests that Francesca (Hannah Dodd) will have a queer love story.

The change divided fans, some of whom didn’t appreciate the show’s departure from the source material.

Taking to Instagram on June 25, Quinn acknowledged in a statement that “switching the gender of a major character is a huge change,” adding that she is “deeply committed to the Bridgerton world becoming more diverse and inclusive.” The author also revealed that she asked showrunner Jess Brownell to give “more information” on the gender-swap storyline “before conferring my agreement.”


Adding that she trusts “Shondaland's vision” for the adaptation, Quinn continued, “I’m confident now that when Francesca has her Bridgerton season, it will be the most emotional and heart-wrenching story of the show, just like When He Was Wicked has always been the true tear-jerker of the Bridgerton book series.”

Concluding her statement, Quinn thanked fans for their feedback and “deep commitment” to the characters. “I think we are going to end up with two stories, one on page and one on screen,” she said.

Showrunner Brownell also recently addressed the backlash, revealing to Teen Vogue that she expected Francesca’s altered storyline to divide fans. “The fact of the matter is, the fan base is not a monolith, and you’re never going to please every single side of the fan base,” she said, adding that she’s been pitching the Michael to Michaela gender-swap since Season 1.

“The first time I read Francesca’s book, I really identified with it as a queer woman. Maybe not in the way Julia Quinn intended,” she told the outlet, adding that she hopes to “show queer joy, which we don’t always get to see in period pieces.”