'Bridgerton' Author Julia Quinn Addresses Queer Storyline Backlash

She explained how the decision was made.

Julia Quinn
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This article contains Bridgerton season 3 and book series spoilers.

Bridgerton author Julia Quinn has addressed the gender-swapping of a beloved character from her books in the Netflix series adaptation of the story.

In Bridgerton season 3, the character of Michaela Stirling is introduced instead of Michael Stirling from the books. Michaela, the cousin of Francesca Bridgerton's first husband John Stirling, will eventually become her new love interest.

Quinn shared a statement on Instagram in response to fans' "surprise" and "disappointment" at the move.

"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," the author wrote. "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."

Quinn further explained that, while she trusts production company Shondaland with the Bridgerton series, she wanted to make sure that Francesca's deep love for John was obvious on screen, so that her romance with Michael/Michaela could have more layers to it.

"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," Quinn wrote. "Honestly, it may pack even more of a punch, since John is getting a lot more time on 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."

She concluded, "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."

Brownell has also previously addressed the Michaela storyline decision, telling Teen Vogue, "My approach to telling a queer story on Bridgerton has been to look to the books for thematic cues. 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."

She explained, "Her book is very much about [Francesca] feeling different, and not really knowing why. In the book, I think it has a lot to do with her just being an introvert, but as a queer woman, a lot of my queer experience, and I think a lot of my friends’ [experiences have] been about that sense of feeling different, and navigating what that means."

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.