Julia Quinn Addresses Bridgerton’s Gender-Swap Twist After Backlash | Us Weekly

June 25, 2024

Julia Quinn Breaks Silence on Bridgerton Michaela Introduction
Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, Masali Baduza as Michaela Liam Daniel/Netflix (2)

Julia Quinn is finally sharing her thoughts on how the Bridgerton book series gender-swapped Francesca’s love interest from Michael to Michaela.

“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 wrote via Instagram on Monday, June 24. “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 acknowledged that “switching the gender of a major character” is a “huge” change. (Spoiler Warning: Bridgerton book spoilers ahead!)

“So when Jess Brownell first approached me with the idea of turning Michael in Michaela for the show, I needed more information before conferring my agreement,” she noted. “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. Jess and I talked for a long time about it. More than once.”

According to Quinn, she had a specific request about Francesca‘s story line, adding, “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.”

When He Was Wicked is focused on Francesca’s marriage to now-husband John (Victor Alli) before his shocking death. Francesca would then go on to find love again with John’s cousin Michael. The series, however, swapped Michael out for Michaela (Masali Baduza), during the season 3 finale earlier this month.

What the Bridgerton Cast and Crew Said About Gender Swapping Francescas Love Interest Into a Woman
Victor Alli and Hannah Dodd Liam Daniel/Netflix

“I felt that if I didn’t show how deeply she loved John, and how deeply Michael, his cousin, also loved him, then their feelings of guilt at falling in love with each other after John’s death made no sense. I didn’t want to just tell the reader that they loved him. I wanted the reader to feel it,” Quinn continued in the lengthy social media post. “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.”

Quinn specifically praised the show for giving Alli more screen time, adding, “Honestly, it may pack even more of a punch, since John is getting a lot more time on the screen than he ever did on the page, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve all fallen a little bit in love with him.”

Since the second half of season 3 was released earlier this month, Quinn’s social media has been filled with divided viewers, some of whom support the change while others vehemently disagree. In response to backlash, Quinn encouraged viewers to give Brownell’s vision a chance.

“Thank you to readers and fans for your feedback. I am grateful for your understanding and touched by your deep commitment to the characters of the Bridgerton world,” she concluded. “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.”

Quinn’s insight comes after Brownell revealed she got her permission before the narrative shakeup.

“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,” Brownell explained to Teen Vogue earlier this month. “In, for example, deciding to tell a queer story with Francesca, I spoke with Julia Quinn, I got her blessing.”

She added: “We talked about the fact that with almost any single book, there would be a side of the fandom that would be disheartened to see their favorite characters changed. I don’t think that there is any book that wouldn’t happen with, so for me, again, it came back to story, and it came back to character.”

Bridgerton is currently streaming on Netflix.

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