Bridgerton Author Defends the Show’s Decision to Swap [Spoiler]’s Gender: ‘I Trust Shondaland’s Vision’

Julia Quinn, the author of the Bridgerton books upon which Netflix’s hit drama series is based, has broken her silence on a Season 3 twist that has left the fandom somewhat divided.

Bridgerton Michaela Gender Swap Explained
Bridgerton Michaela Gender Swap Explained

The latest season ended with the arrival of Masali Baduza as Michaela, a gender-swapped version of a character named Michael, who is introduced in the Francesca-centric book When He Was Wicked. Francesca is visibly flustered upon meeting Michaela at the Featherington Ball, heavily implying that the two women will find themselves at the center of Season 4’s big romance, just as (spoiler alert!) Francesca ultimately falls for Michael in the books.

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In a lengthy message posted to her various social media accounts on Monday evening, Quinn addresses the “surprise” and “disappointment” that some fans have expressed following the introduction of Michaela.

“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,” Quinn writes. “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. 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.”

Quinn continues: “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. 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.”

TVLine previously discussed the gender swap with Bridgerton showrunner Jess Brownell, who said that she “really related to Francesca’s story as a queer woman.” Even though Francesca’s book “isn’t intended to be a queer story — at least the way Julia Quinn wrote it, Francesca talks a lot in the book about feeling different and not quite knowing why at times.”

Brownell wouldn’t confirm “one way or the other” whether Season 4 will focus on Francesca, but as she explained, “Her story is one that has more installments than some of the other book stories and so, we’re getting started on it a little more quickly.”

Are you excited to see how Francesca and Michaela’s relationship develops in Bridgerton‘s fourth season, which isn’t expected to hit Netflix until 2026? Drop a comment with your thoughts on the gender swap below.

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