The trailer for Bridget Jones' Baby has just dropped and omg the magazine writers have chimed in with their thoughts. I think Helen Fielding would be amused (or exasperated) at the irony of feminist writers neurotically critiquing a film - which isn't even out yet - about a neurotic woman who is constantly lambasted for not fitting in with other people's visions of what a woman should be.
Bridget Jones, feminist literary icon and spinster, book series and film franchise is a satire. A satire! The first novel was loosely based on Pride and Prejudice and the second one Jane Austen's masterpiece Persuasion. Both were about a single woman in the 90s not living up to any of these imposed standards of success that we are supposed to achieve. She's not married and while she deals with criticism from family friends and peers about her 'spinsterhood' and is affected by it - she's not dragging Mark Darcy to engagement ring shops and pointing out which one she wants.
She has her urban family of friends, doesn't take her job too seriously but still tries hard and squabbles with her controlling mum while going on dates. She fucks up and she's brave and hilarious.
Is this not a vague template for all our lives? What I like about Bridget is that she's not perfect and she's not winning all the time but she's mostly ok about that. One of the reviews of the trailer I read (why are we reviewing a trailer?! What has click bait come to) is that getting married is not an aim in life for single women anymore. We aren't concerned by Smug Marrieds and won over by Milk Trays these days. Bridget Jones was very zeitgeist in the 90s but the first book is 20 years old! Is she even relevant anymore?
My reading of the Helen Fielding's books is not that Bridget is desperate to get married - it's that women, whatever they do, were criticised for their choices. I think that's still the case. Bridget isn't jealous of her married friends - she's hurt by being told that by being unmarried she's somehow less important.
I'm paraphrasing now but in the Edge of Reason, a stuffy Smug Married asks Bridget if she's sorted her life out yet. Outraged, Bridget's friend Shazzer says her life is fine and doesn't need sorting out - and points the finger at his less than perfect married life. I think most single women have endured this kind of crap at least once.
I didn't like Helen Fielding's third Bridget Jones book, Mad About the Boy. I thought it was a bit of a repeat of the first one and I would have preferred to read a book about Bridget's marriage to Mark Darcy. However, I quite like the look of the trailer which is a totally different story. Bridget didn't get married although she admits she would have liked to, has a cool job that she still makes mistakes at and has royally screwed up re her love life. Who is the father of her baby? Mr Darcy or MacDreamy?
Is Bridget Jones still relevant? Well this 27 year old is still interested. The second film was a bit rubbish but the director of the first film who is the basis for Shazzer is back. I think - and hope - we are about to see Bridget Jones back on form.
More paraphrasing - another great English writer, Winifred Holtby, wrote in South Riding, "I was born to be a spinster and by God am I going to spin!"
Let's take Bridget Jones out for another spin, eh?