Bridgerton Author Shares Her Take On Fans' Mixed Reaction To Season 3 Finale's Queer Plot Twist

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton and Victor Alli as John Stirling in Bridgerton
Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton and Victor Alli as John Stirling in Bridgerton LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

Julia Quinn, the author behind the original Bridgerton novels, has spoken out about the twist at the end of the Netflix show’s third season.

New episodes of the hit period drama began streaming earlier this month, ending with Francesca Bridgerton becoming flustered after being introduced to a new character called Michaela Stirling.

This quickly led many fans to reach the conclusion that Michaela is a gender-swapped version of Michael Stirling, Francesca’s love interest from the original book series, and that a future plot arc would explore the pair’s relationship in Bridgerton’s most prominent queer storyline to date.

In an Instagram post shared on Monday evening, Julia shared her thoughts on the matter, acknowledging that the twist has been met with “surprise and, for some, disappointment”.

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,” Julia wrote.

“But switching the gender of a major character is a huge change, and so when [Bridgerton 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.”

Bridgerton author Julia Quinn at the season three premiere earlier this month
Bridgerton author Julia Quinn at the season three premiere earlier this month Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images

She went on to say that while she trusts the producers’ “vision for Bridgerton”, she also wanted to make sure that any changes to the plot would “remain true to the spirit of the book and of the characters”, which she and Jess “talked for a long time about”.

“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,” Julia insisted, urging Bridgerton fans to “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,” she concluded.

Read Julia’s full statement below – although be warned that it does contain spoilers for the novel When He Was Wicked, and therefore future seasons of Bridgerton:

Jess recently admitted that this particular deviation from the Bridgerton novels was one she’d been pitching since she began working with the show in its first season.

“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 said, highlighting that in the novels, Francesca feels “different” without “really knowing why”.

Jess also noted that she sought out Julia’s approval before moving forward with the changes to Francesca’s storyline, and anticipated that not everyone would be happy with the decision.

“We talked about the fact that with almost any single book, there would be a side of the fandom that would be disheartened to see their favourite characters changed,” she explained. “I don’t think that there is any book that wouldn’t happen with, so for me, again, it came back to story, and it came back to character. Because Francesca’s book resonated [with me] in the way that it did, it felt like a natural adaptation.”

So far, Jess has remained tight-lipped about which member of the Bridgerton family the next season of the show will centre around, after both Francesca and Benedict’s characters were explored further in the latest batch of episodes.

However, she did settle one fan theory, insisting that they would not be “combining books” for season four, instead focussing on one central couple’s love story.

Meanwhile, Bridgerton fans were dealt a blow earlier this month when it was confirmed that viewers would probably have to wait until around 2026 for their next return to the ton.