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Bridgerton's Author Just Addressed The Backlash Over That Gender Change

"I needed more information."

The ultimate Bridgerton authority has finally spoken on the latest drama in the fandom. Ever since the Season 3 finale dropped, there’s been an endless back-and-forth over the biggest change from the books yet: turning Michael Stirling into Michaela Stirling. Julia Quinn shared that she’s seen some “disappointment in the twist,” and admitted that she was a bit taken aback by the idea at first, too. But she encouraged fans to have “some faith” that this new story will be just as beautiful.

The end of Season 3 teased the beginning of Francesca Bridgerton’s heartbreaking love story, as she agreed to move into her new husband John Stirling’s Scottish castle. In the books, Francesca forms a bond with John’s cousin Michael, and eventually ends up with him years after John suddenly dies in his sleep. However, the series introduced Francesca to John’s female cousin Michaela, suggesting a reimagined LGBTQ+ love story in Francesca’s future.

A couple weeks after this change was revealed, Quinn made her feelings known in a statement on Instagram. “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. “I am deeply committed to the Bridgerton world becoming more diverse and inclusive as the stories move from book to screen. But switching the gender of a major character is a huge change, and so when [showrunner] Jess Brownell first approached me with the idea of turning Michael into Michaela for the show, I needed more information before conferring my agreement.”

Brownell previously shared that she had in-depth conversations with Quinn about the Michaela change, and did end up getting her blessing.

“It was extremely important to me that Francesca's abiding love for John be shown on screen,” Quinn wrote, emphasizing that she didn’t want to diminish John and Francesca’s romance at all. “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. But 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.”

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Quinn concluded by thanking fans of her books for their concern, but imploring them to trust the show’s vision for Francesca’s future. “I am grateful for your understanding and touched by your deep commitment to the characters of the Bridgerton world,” she wrote. “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.”