The Bridget Jones Diary franchise of books and films are some of the greatest works of art ever produced. Honestly, Truly. Of course, none of it would have been possible without the brilliant writing of Nobel laureate, Helen Fielding. Okay, so maybe Helen Fielding did not receive a Nobel Prize in literature for Bridget Jones Diary or Bridget Jones Diary: Edge of Reason. But in my humble opinion, that is some A-class literature right there. And without it, millions of women around the world would not have experienced the bliss of spending countless evenings wrapped in blankets, shovelling Häagen-Dazs into our mouths and drooling over Colin Firth as moody Mark Darcy.
I first read Bridget Jones diary when I was about twelve years old. I had grown weary of reading thick volumes of highly enjoyable but rather serious literature, and was deep in a phase of reading light-hearted chick-lit like it was my job. I read everything I could find by young adult authors like Cathy Cassidy, Louise Rennison, and Meg Cabot. Once I had exhausted this category, I moved on to more adult romance novels like Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series and Highland Fling by Katie Fforde. I loved the ludicrousness of the meet-cutes and the completely unrealistic happy endings. I took myself a bit too seriously to be seen in public hunched over these Mills and Boone-esque novels. And more importantly, I was not supposed to be reading these books. My mum might have had a heart attack had she known that instead of something more age-appropriate; I was busy reading about the sexcapades of bored London lawyers and brooding, but philanthropic heirs in the Scottish Highlands. I relished the secrecy of tucking into these books.
It was my sister’s boarding school roommate, a young lady from Finland, who introduced me to the world of Helen Fielding. I was visiting their room one day, saw the book lying on her desk and asked her about it. She raved about the book and told me I could borrow it. This was the beginning of a beautiful love affair between me and the Bridget Jones franchise. And perhaps more importantly between me and the fictional character of Mark Darcy.
What’s not to love about Mark Darcy? For one, he is based on Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Darcy from P&P is one of the most insufferable (a word I believe he would approve of himself) men in English literature, and also one of the greatest literary heartthrobs I have had the privilege of reading. I both loathe and love Fitzwilliam Darcy, and was completely sold on the volatile romance between him and Elizabeth Bennet. What can I say, I’m a hopeless romantic. I even own a tote bag with his declaration of love to Elizabeth Bennet on it. #noshame. Darcy comes to life in the most perfect way in the 1995 six episode P&P miniseries, in which he is depicted by the delectable Colin Firth (is it yet evident that I am huge Colin Firth fan?). He is the perfect combination of moody and broody, with a perfectly coiffed Superman curl. Let’s not even talk about the scene in which he emerges from a pond. #victorianladyboners.
Of course, I was over the moon when I learned at the beginning of 2016 that there would be a new Bridget Jones film. I would definitely be spending my coins at some movie theater to see Renee Zellweger slay as Bridget and to swoon over Mark Darcy. The new film in the series, Bridget Jones Baby, was nothing short of perfection. We met a Bridget who is excelling at and enjoying her career, finally at her goal weight (though she looked perfectly fine before too, if you ask me,), has quit smoking and is no longer with Mark Darcy. Horror of horrors to the latter, I thought. How could Hollywood do this to me? I definitely took their separation a tiny bit too personally.
I have never expected strong feminist statements from these films or the books that inspired them. But there was a slightly different tone in this film, than in the two previous ones. There was this sense that it was about Bridget and her personal development as a woman, a mother, and as a human being. Yes, there is still plenty of eye candy and romance with the addition of Patrick Dempsey as a love interest. But these are not essential to Bridget’s character development - they are additive. She is a content, full-fledged person with or without these men in her life. She will be a wonderful mum, regardless of whether they are present or not. Now this does not mean that I did not still relish the Bridget and Mark love story. As Bridget and Mark stole glances at each other across as they made their way upstairs through the bustling party to make sweet, sweet love, I absolutely did not resist the desire to squeal like a baby piglet. But it was pretty awesome to see this development in a character and a story I have become quite invested in over the years. Go Bridget!