“Bridgerton” author Julia Quinn defends show’s queer romance amid 'disappointment' from fans

"I ask that you grant me and the Shondaland team some faith as we move forward."

Bridgerton author Julia Quinn is breaking her silence on the big book-to-series change introduced in season 3.

On Monday, the bestselling romance writer took to social media to address upset viewers of the Netflix series, who have expressed their "disappointment" in the show for gender-swapping a fan-favorite love interest for Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd).

“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 on Instagram. “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.”

<p>Netflix</p> Victor Alli as John Stirling and Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in 'Bridgerton'


Victor Alli as John Stirling and Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in 'Bridgerton'

She continued, "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.”

While the latest season of the regency romance primarily focused on the love story between Colin (Luke Newton) and Penelope (Nicola Coughlan), it also marked Francesca’s entry into the marriage market and the beginnings of her romance with the Earl of Kilmartin, John Stirling (Victor Alli). But as well-read fans already know, this won’t be the only relationship that Francesca will explore in the years to come.

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Francesca’s novel, When He Was Wicked, sees her marriage to John disrupted by the introduction of his charming cousin, Michael. But book readers got a shock when the season 3 finale instead saw Francesca cross paths with Michaela Stirling (Masali Baduza), who immediately left her flustered. While some fans were overjoyed by the knowledge that Francesca's future would include a queer storyline (thus far a rarity in the Bridgerton series), others were bothered by the significant departure from the source material.

Related: Nicola Coughlan clarifies rumors about Bridgerton's deleted Polin sex scenes

Admitting to having her own reservations, Quinn wrote that she discussed the change at length with Brownell. During their conversations, the author emphasized the importance that "Francesca's abiding love for John be shown on screen," as it was a crucial element for her when penning the novel.

“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,” she explained. “I didn't want to just tell the reader that they loved him. I wanted the reader to feel it.”

<p>Netflix</p> Masali Baduza as Michaela on 'Bridgerton'


Masali Baduza as Michaela on 'Bridgerton'

Related: Bridgerton star Jessica Madsen says she's 'in love with a woman' as she celebrates the start of Pride Month

Quinn concluded, "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.”

After thanking her readers, the author made one final plea regarding the backlash: “I ask that you grant me and the Shondaland team some faith as we move forward,” she wrote. “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.”

Brownell previously opened up to Entertainment Weekly about the thought process behind gender-swapping Francesca’s love interest.

"When I first read When He Was Wicked in the lead up to season 1, I really related to it as a queer woman," Brownell said. "There's some themes in that book about Francesca feeling different. Julia Quinn just means it in terms of her being an introvert. But for a lot of us in the queer community, that sense of feeling different from a young age is a part of our stories. So, I felt like there was good thematic resonance telling a queer story with Francesca."

Brownell insisted that while there is plenty more of Francesca and Michaela to come, the show would be sure to emphasize the role that John plays in her life. “Something I love about Francesca's book is it's actually a story of two great loves. So we do intend to honor that."

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.