‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ is delightful, but where’s her backup plan?

by Lisa Bonos

“You can do this on your own, you know.”

That line is uttered by Bridget Jones’ obstetrician, played by Emma Thompson, deep into the second half of “Bridget Jones’s Baby.” But the concept isn’t given much deep consideration. Instead, our successful-yet-clumsy spinster heroine is, as always, mad about the boys.

As you probably know from the previews, the movie’s premise is this: A 43-year-old Bridget Jones, very single at the time, has gotten knocked up by either her ex Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) or American billionaire Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey). That Bridget (Renée Zellweger) is about to have a child out of wedlock is not extraordinary. In the United States, 40 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers. In Britain, where our fictional Bridget lives, nearly half of babies are born outside marriage.

However, it is extraordinary that our heroine barely ponders the prospect of raising that child without a love interest by her side. Instead, the questions driving the film are: Who is the father? Which man will show the most devotion to Bridget? Which one will Bridget choose?

Both men do appear to be interested. They show up to a birthing class, both bringing beverages for Bridget and offering to carry her belongings. But Mark and Jack’s appeals for Bridget’s heart appear to be fueled more by manly competition than by interest in Bridget herself.

Not that there’s anything wrong with romance in a rom-com! I don’t begrudge our heroine her happy ending. We’ve been waiting for it long enough!

I’m not spoiling the movie by saying that she does end up with a dude at the end. But it strains credulity, even for a rom-com, that a 43-year-old woman would plan to bring a baby into the world without a strong backup plan. A backup plan that doesn’t require romance.

Her bestie and co-worker Miranda (Sarah Solemani) is happy to scheme with Bridget when debauchery and romance are involved. (Miranda was the one to bring her to the music festival where she met that handsome Jack in the first place.)

Had this accidental pregnancy happened to a real-life Bridget, I doubt the men would have been the ones to show up at that birthing class. Rather, it would have probably been Miranda – or one of Bridget’s many other friends, or her parents – who’s there to help with the baby prep, and maybe even offering to move in once the little one arrives. These connections in her life go back far longer and appear to be deeper than those with either of the men in her life.

The audience knows, deep-down, that Bridget can do this on her own. Of course, she would prefer not to. Bridget has always been teetering on that line between confident and despondent – it’s part of what makes her endearing. But we also expect that she’s grown up a bit in the decade-plus since we’ve last seen her. That’s she’s more confident in her self-sufficiency.

Readers and audiences have been peering into Bridget Jones’ fictional life in print and on screen for 20 years. A lot has changed in that time. Increasingly, women are giving birth later in life, and half of all children – in the United States, at least – are spending some of their lives outside married-parent families.

I’m not judging this fictional character (too much) for being mad about the boys. I just wish she’d given her own strength more of a starring role.

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