Julie Burchill

Mary Sue, I hate you!

Meet the most annoying person you already know

  • From Spectator Life

Christmas means different things to different people; for Mary Sue, it will be yet another excuse to queen it over her friends. Her Christmas pudding will have been made from scratch, her carefully curated tree decorations will tell myriad stories of a perfect home life, her tasteful National Trust Christmas cards will have been sent out on 1 December. To queen it over her acquaintances, enemies and admirers, rather – for Mary Sues have no friends. They’re far too awful.

Do you know a Mary Sue – a self-adoring paragon of virtue who can only ever admit to faults which are actually boasts in disguise? Mary Sues are ‘perfectionists’ or ‘too passionate’ – but never, ever lazy or liars, envious or spiteful. In job interviews, asked for their worst quality, they’ll simper ‘I’m too conscientious’. Other giveaways are ‘I’ve only made one huge mistake in my life – I once thought I was wrong about something, but it turned out I wasn’t’ and ‘My fault is that I tell it like I see it – I’ll say it to your face, not behind your back’ and ‘My greatest weakness is my sensitivity.’ The words they use most about themselves are ‘kind’ and ‘empath’ – about others, ‘unkind’ and ‘narcissist’. They’re that friend you’re thinking of letting go because they can’t seem to give their opinion on anything from Monopoly to monogamy without delivering a mini-lecture; they use the words ‘as part of a loving, committed relationship’ so much, so sanctimoniously that they make you want to run out and join a dogging community before going to live in a free-love orgy-house. Mary Sues are that annoying.

Occasionally men can be Mary Sues too; one thinks of Prince Andrew saying that he kept seeing the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein as it was the ‘honourable’ thing to do or Saint Gary ‘Gandhi’ Lineker saying anything.

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