When She Was Wicked
'Bridgerton' fans celebrated the show changing Michael Stirling to Michaela.

Bridgerton Fully Gender-Bent A Main Character & Fans Are Living

Honestly, slay.


Bridgerton just made its most exciting change from the books yet. While the main focal point of Season 3 was on Penelope and Colin’s friends-to-lovers arc, Francesca’s silent but strong romance with John Stirling also blossomed. But as readers of Julia Quinn’s novels well know, Francesca and John’s future gets grim fast. Book readers can’t predict everything, though. And a new wrinkle in Francesca’s story on the show proved that, as the Netflix series changed the gender of a very important character.

Spoiler alert: This post includes spoilers from Bridgerton Season 3’s finale, as well as the novel When He Was Wicked. Probably the most shocking moment of Season 3 for diehard book fans was John introducing Francesca to his cousin: Michaela Stirling. Yes, that’s Michaela, with an “A.” In the novels, John’s cousin Michael is Francesca’s eventual love interest, whom she marries after John’s sudden death. But it seems the show is giving that romance a queer twist.

Michaela, who is portrayed by South African actor Masali Baduza, only appeared for a brief moment in Season 3, but that was more than enough to signal to viewers that the series would be making its biggest change to a core love story from the books yet.


It’s unclear how closely Francesca and Michaela’s romance will mirror Francesca and Michael’s from the Bridgerton novels. In the books, Michael pined for Francesca privately while she was married to his cousin John. Upon John’s death, Michael was consumed with so much guilt over his feelings for Francesca that he distanced himself from her, but they eventually came back together and fell in love.

A core element of their relationship revolved around infertility issues, as Michael longed to have children but he and Francesca failed to conceive any offspring for years.

The shift from Michael to Michaela came at the same time that Francesca’s older brother Benedict started to explore his bisexuality towards the end of Season 3. Fans of the series had been calling for more inclusion in terms of sexuality ever since it began, and the new showrunner Jess Brownell seems to be making that a priority. Ahead of the third season, she promised the series would be “exploring queer love stories across the next couple of seasons.”