This morning, it was brought to our attention that people actually thought Labour leader Kier Starmer was the inspiration for the romantic hero of the Bridget Jones Diary trilogy, Mark Darcy. Why? Because the author of the Bridget Jones books Helen Fielding has confirmed that actually, he definitely isn’t.
Talking to Radio Times, Fielding was asked about the rumour that she took inspiration for Mark Darcy from our current leader of the opposition. ‘Well, I think he’s fantastic. But no, I’ve never met him,’ she said. ‘They are very similar, though. He’s so good and decent and intelligent, but so buttoned up. I always want to say: “Come on, Keir, loosen your tie, ruffle up your hair.” He doesn’t think of himself as sexy, but he’s really sexy. And when he and Boris spar, it does remind me of Mark and Daniel.’
Yes, you really just read those words.
Putting aside the absolutely traumatising comparison of Boris Johnson to Daniel Cleaver, I actually couldn’t be happier that Kier Starmer wasn’t the inspiration for Bridget Jones life-long love. Because, make no mistake, Mark Darcy is an arsehole.
I came to this conclusion after watching Bridget Jones's Baby this weekend (spoilers ahead). If you haven’t seen it, it’s the same old saga. Mark wants Bridget when he can’t have her, he still makes her feel inadequate and unloved – even when she’s potentially carrying his CHILD - until he races back with one swooping romantic gesture that puts her right back in his arms.
And if I’m being honest, I root for them. I hate that I root for them, but I do. Purely because of how much they do seem to love each other– I did grow up in the 2000s after all, I’m nothing if not a victim to the brainwashing tropes of romcoms – but that doesn’t change the fact they are entirely incompatible.
She’s funny, emotionally intelligent, down to earth and knows herself very, very well. He’s uptight, can’t communicate to save his life and doesn’t have an ounce of banter in his entire being. They like each other, yes – but re-watching the films now, it’s hard to see why.
Mark Darcy makes Bridget feel like shit almost all of the time.
From what we can tell, Bridget only really seems to like Mark after he admits he likes her - and he’s, apparently, the stereotypical ‘nice guy’, the complete opposite to womanizer Daniel Cleaver that she so desperately needs.
But actually, he’s not nice at all. You can tell just by the way he makes her feel like shit almost all of the time. It might not be his intention, sure. But when your actions make someone else feel bad about themselves, do intentions really matter?
See, we’re meant to think of Bridget as this desperate, mess of a human. We’re meant to feel sorry for her being apparently ‘overweight’, her ‘verbal incontinence’ as Mark puts it and of course, her single status.
In actuality, Bridget is a gorgeous and a healthy weight. Her candid tongue makes her hilarious and witty, and her ability to live alone in London on a journalist salary: a miracle worker. In essence, she’s a fucking catch. And yet, everyone treats her like she’s the last lonely woman in London, flailing about unable to ‘keep a man’ because she’s such a chaotic mess. In reality, the flaws that Bridget sees in herself are not actually her flaws, they’re reflections of the uptight people she surrounds herself with… Mark Darcy being one of them.
In one scene in the second film, she calls out a bunch of rich, white men for refusing to give money to homeless people, referring to them as ‘Tory, Home Counties, upper-middle-class twits’. Watching it, I laughed and laughed as their faces looked on at her in horror, Mark included. She’s confused why he’s not on her side - he is after all a human rights lawyer - and yet he treats her like an idiotic child simply for being unthreatened by a room full of posh people.
Maybe, as a scouser living in London, I’m particularly sensitive to the condescending comments of posh, uptight men. I know the feeling of being surrounded by elitist people who assume you’re stupid just because you don’t speak or act like them. I am similarly vocal about my liberal opinions, some might say ‘vulgar’ and quite frankly, I love being intimidatingly honest to men who expect you to sit and smile while they spout their shit.
Mark Darcy reminds me of all of those men. The ones who freeze with embarrassment when you’re vocal about a supposed ‘taboo’ topic, as if you’re not bold breaking boundaries. The ones who act above you because they have more academic or career achievements, no accounting for their privilege, of course. And the ones who mask how intimidated they are by your confidence by negging you.
Even in the final film, he’s still uptight, awkward and can’t communicate.
What’s more, Mark Darcy never changes. Even in the final film, where they reunite having tried to make their relationship work over the course of 10 years, he’s still uptight, awkward and can’t communicate. He still makes her feel inadequate just for being who she is, as if she’s not ten times the woman he deserves. He still doesn’t know her well enough to make her feel comfortable and loved.
Across all the films, he seems to only want her when another equally successful man does, only ever telling her how he feels at the last minute. Even Bridget herself tells him that despite all their efforts over their decade together, she always felt like she wasn’t enough with him. That’s ten whole years of emotional manipulation and yet we’re meant to roof for them to marry. Please.
In reality, she spent some of the best years of her life validating herself based on his love of her, desperate for his approval. Lest we forget in the first film, his description of her as ‘a verbally incontinent spinster who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and dresses like her mother’ is the entire reason she decided to start the diary in the first place. His one judgement fuelled her obsession with weight-loss and finding a man. If that isn’t toxic, I don’t know what is.
Click through for 27 things you didn't know about Bridget Jones...
1. The fictional publishing house that Bridget works for is called Pemberley Press
Pemberley is the name of Darcy's family estate in Pride and Prejudice.
Yes, he made her comfortable when she proved insecure. We saw this in the bedsheets scene in the second film, in the dinner party scene when he says he likes her just as she is and on many other occasions. But that in itself it emotional manipulation. Negging someone, or acting embarrassed or annoyed at someone for being themselves only to lift them up when they need your approval is textbook manipulation. It makes her reliant on his validation, just as she seemed to be for 10 years.
Now, you could argue that Bridget was just painfully insecure and Mark terrible at communicating his feelings. Frankly, that’s no excuse. By the third film, at his grand age, he’s exactly the same way despite knowing Bridget for decades. No character development in all that time? No growth? No seeking therapy even though you destroy the confidence of the woman you love routinely for years? Unfortunately, we simply cannot stan.
Luckily for us, these films are from a different time in our lives when we perhaps didn’t call out the toxic traits of men who appear to be ‘nice guys’ when they’re anything but. But let’s stop romanticising Mark Darcy now. If anything just because it’s Christmas and Bridget Jones binges are inbound, we can’t go into 2021 thinking of Mark Darcy as anything other than a raging arsehole.