How Bridget Jones Became An Unlikely Millenial Hero

She's scorned by her own generation for failing to get her shit together, but for us millenials trying to bumble through a mess of an adult world we never asked to be a part of, Bridget Jones might actually be our relateable hero.

How Bridget Jones Became An Unlikely Millenial Hero

by Jess Commons |
Published on

For a long time during my late teens and early 20s, Bridget Jones was resolutely Not. A. Thing.

With her big pants, single woman moping, hopeless klutz-ishness and farcical inability to come through any social situation with her dignity intact, she was the subject of eye-rolls by career driven, independent women everywhere.

In 2011, when it was announced the author Helen Fielding was to write another Bridget Jones book to follow the bonkers popular Bridget Jones’ Diary and Bridget Jones: Edge Of Reason, women who grew up with Bridget suddenly found they were in a completely different place than the hapless 30-something who had once been their relatable hero.

‘Like Sex And The City, Bridget Jones’s Diary was once bang on the zeitgeist.’ Wrote Bryony Gordon in a 2011 column for Stylist. ‘Today she jars with the ethos of the 2011 woman who concentrates more on career progression and self-improvement (of the improved intelligence, not self-help book kind) than relationships and weight.’

As Millenials, we’ve never really been the target audience for Bridget Jones. She’s from the affluent side of the generation above us, the now 40-somethings who come from a time where people once made money in their 20s and bought houses and managed to drink three bottles of chardonnay a night in fancy night clubs and still go to work the next day. They’re the people who somehow managed to live without the internet, the generation who now have kids called Moses and Fenella, who read the Sunday Times Style and can name every bestselling Farrow and Ball paint colour for the past ten years.

Bridget and friends weren’t us. And yet, we watched, we enjoyed and we experienced the trickle down Bridget-empathy from our elders. In the early noughties, in our teens, we still found the hapless Bridget relatable and, as she fell out of favour with our elders, we too dismissed her as frivolous.

Because, as the noughties wore on, neo-feminism was on the rise. The advent of social media connected women with common mentalities. All of a sudden it wasn’t just you thinking quietly to yourself ‘Was it OK the way that male politician talked to that female newsreader?’ No, now there were thousands of women all across the world, voicing their similar concerns, giving the feminist rhetoric credence.

Out of this came the alpha female. The Sheryl Sandbergs, the Marissa Meyers, the Wendi Dengs. There were think pieces written about how women were having their cake and eating it – bigger salaries, more responsibilities. Lean In, and take over the world. Even Sarah Jessica Parker, the woman who once played the utterly useless and hopelessly single US equivalent of Bridget Jones - Carrie Bradshaw - came back in a film I highly recommend you give a miss called I Don’t Know How She Does It about a high flying working mother.

In 2013, Suzanne Moore wrote the definitive article about why Bridget Jones was O.V.E.R. ‘The humour that comes from her rhetoric about being a strong independent woman is always undermined by her pseudo neurosis’ she wrote. ‘the identification with Bridget is the one pimped by so much media aimed at women: self-improvement as self-empowerment. Self is the key word.’

And she was right.


But this is now. In the past few years, the world has changed dramatically. Especially for women. Our generation especially has been forced to watch as a man who promised change for millennials made a pact with a political party who undermined us. We’ve watched our future grow ever more unstable as house prices rise and publically-funded organisations and pensions disappear. Instances of anxiety and depression have risen exponentially, we’ve watched as the world around us descended into a previously unimaginable state of global terror. Sexual assault and domestic abuse make daily news stories, the gender pay gap dispute rumbles on, sexism in TV and film seems a million miles away from being eradicated.

In the long run, this is making women stronger. However, it’s also forced us to show our vulnerable side. Our beta side. We can’t be ‘together’ all the time in a world that’s trying to kick our arses. We are exposed.

TV shows like Girls,(own horn tooting alert here) sites like The Debrief, Broadly, Jezebel and Refinery 29 and comedians like Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have made self-deprecation cool. The advent of relatable memes (OMG this is *so *me) are all results of a breakdown of that strong, alpha woman exterior. They’re reminders that hey, it’s OK not to have it together all the time. It’s OK to be like, well Bridget.

Yep, Bridget Jones is back in 2016 as an unlikely relatable role model for millennials. Sure she’s got a couple of decades on us, tons of money, a central-London flat and a spectacularly un-diverse group of peers but, crucially, Bridget is still, a bit of a fuck up. She’s openly flawed, unsure of herself and still desperately single (something which is A-OK to be BTW – our society is unfairly rigged to be kinder to couples, if you want a partner to cuddle up to, you go ahead and own that).

Bridget Jones Baby producer Debra Hayward knows that Bridget's success comes from relatability. 'Helen (Fielding) just had her finger on the pulse.' She said when we spoke to her last week.' Whether you're a teenager or whether you're a 20-something or older, there's so much within that character that you can relate to.'

'Lena Dunham's generation is different.' She continues. 'The phenomena of women [that] age and younger who can't have the lifestyle that their parents had. That's not Bridget.' But, she says, that doesn't mean she isn't relevant to them. 'The pre-occupations of Bridget's life are all to do with love, family and friends. She's someone we can relate to no matter who were are.'

Our generation can’t control the future, but what we can control is the now. We can own our mistakes, we can laugh at our misguided attempts to bumble into an adult world that’s not built for us, we can admit to feeling sad, anxious and unsure and revel in each others’ similar and shared experiences.

Which is something Bridget was just doing all along. We were just so busy leaning in, we couldn’t see that actually, it’s OK to just do the best you can and, if that means you’re a big giant mess of a human being, no-one is going to judge you for it.

As the saying goes, ‘YOU DO YOU’.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

30 Non-Shit Motivational Quotes From Women Who Aren't Marilyn Monroe

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In Defence Of Beta Men** **

Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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