After Unnecessary Backlash, The "Bridgerton" Author Wrote A Long Post Defending The Show's Decision To Gender Swap Michael

There are not only spoilers below for Bridgerton Season 3 but also the book When He Was Wicked!

It's no secret that Bridgerton is one of the biggest TV shows right now. Recently, the hit Netflix series wrapped up Season 3, which followed Colin (Luke Newton) falling in love with Penelope (Nicola Coughlan).

Close-up of a scene with Colin and Penelope about to kiss

The new episodes were beloved by fans, as it continued the tradition of each season focusing on a different Bridgerton sibling finding true love, just like in the bestselling book series, which the show is based on.

Nicola Coughlan in bridal gown and veil gazes at Luke Newton in period costume during a wedding scene

What made Season 3 a little different than the previous two seasons is that alongside Colin and Penelope falling in love, fans also got to see Francesca (Hannah Dodd) meet and marry John Stirling (Victor Alli).

Francesca and John during their wedding

Then, in the final moments of the Season 3 finale, John introduces Francesca to his cousin Michaela Stirling (Masali Baduza). In Francesca's book, When He Was Wicked, John's cousin Michael plays an important role in Fran's love story.

Michaela smiling as Francesca looks at her, surprised

There are BIG book spoilers below, just as another warning.


In When He Was Wicked, Francesca and John truly love each other. However, John suddenly dies, leaving Fran to mourn the loss of her husband. During this time of grief, Francesca begins to develop feelings for Michael, who has secretly always loved her, but she doesn't know this.

Michaela and John talking to Francesca at a ball

It's arguably the saddest Bridgerton book and a lot of people's favorites, as it deals with grief, a second chance at love, fertility, and much more.

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton

So, some Bridgerton fans have been less than thrilled that Michael has been changed to Michaela for the series. It's also worth noting that this would be the first central queer love story the show has explored.

Michaela asking Francesca who she is, and Francescas fumbling her words before saying her full name

Following the release of the final Season 3 episodes, Bridgerton showrunner Jess Brownell detailed why they made the change, which was "blessed" by author Julia Quinn.

Jess Brownell in a suit on a red carpet
Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images

"My approach to telling a queer story on Bridgerton has been to look to the books for thematic cues," Jess explained to Teen Vogue. "I didn't want to just insert a queer character for queer character's sake. I want to tell a story that accurately reflects a queer experience, and the first time I read Francesca's book, I really identified with it as a queer woman."

Michaela telling Francesca and Eloise, "A pleasure to make your acquaintance"

But, because of this change, which frankly I am so excited for, and I've read the books, people are upset that Michael is now Michaela in the TV show. So much so that Julia has now spoken out about the backlash.

Julia Quinn poses on the red carpet in a shoulder-baring dress at a 'Bridgerton' event
Lia Toby / Getty Images

In a post shared across several of her social media platforms, Julia addressed fans who are upset about the gender swap in the series. She wrote, "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."

Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley in three intense, close-up scenes from 'Bridgerton,' with an emotional and romantic atmosphere

She continued, saying, "But switching the gender of a major character is a huge change, and so when Jess Brownell first approached me with the idea of turning Michael into Michaela for the show, I needed more information before conferring my agreement."

Michaela joking with Francesca and Eloise saying everything John has told them about her is a lie, but "the truth is far worse"

The change from Michael to Michaela marks the first major change for a main love interest in the adaptation.


"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. I made it clear that it was extremely important to me that Francesca's abiding love for John be shown on screen."

The cast of Bridgerton on a red carpet alongside Shonda Rhimes and Julia Quinn
Dave Benett / Alan Chapman / WireImage / Getty Images

Julia continued, detailing how when she first wrote When He Was Wicked, she actually had to "fight to have the first four chapters" in the book, which established Francesca and John's love for each other. She added, "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."

Francesca telling John she hopes her future husband doesn't hide her piano stool, and he responds with "I would not dream of it"

"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."


Speaking more directly to the change in the TV series, Julia wrote, "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."

Francesca and John whispering to each other in a scene from Bridgerton

Julia added that because fans have spent more time with John in the series already than in her books, Francesca's eventual TV season "may pack even more of a punch." She added, "I think it's fair to say we've all fallen a little bit in love with him."

Victor Alli and Hannah Dodd in a scene from Bridgerton, where Francesca and John stand together in silence

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

Francesca and Violet hold hands

Julia concluded her statement with: "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."

Michaela and John smiling and talking to Francesca in a scene from Bridgerton

Personally, just from the few minutes Masali was on screen as Michaela, her chemistry with Hannah as Francesca was already palpable, so I have no doubt their eventual love story will be incredible.

Hannah Dodd in a glittering, sequined, off-the-shoulder dress poses at an event. She has crimped, long hair with hairpins. The background features floral decor
Hannah Dodd in a glittering, sequined, off-the-shoulder dress poses at an event. She has crimped, long hair with hairpins. The background features floral decor
Masali Baduza in red sleeveless dress poses on the red carpet
Masali Baduza in red sleeveless dress poses on the red carpet

Neil Mockford / WireImage / Getty Images, Gallo Images via Getty Images

You can read Julia's full statement below:

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