In the past, I’ve dedicated entire posts to a man everyone loves, but I hate: Christian Grey. But there are others, whom I openly cheered for from the beginning… until I gave them a bit more thought. Producers, I must say, you’ve been doing a pretty shitty job of writing my dream guys for the last 50 or 60 years now. For example…
Leonard Hofstadter of The Big Bang Theory
From the beginning, Leonard is the obvious favorite of the BBT gang. Sheldon’s too in love with Sheldon to date; Raj can’t speak to women; Howard’s hand is likely glued to himself in his mother’s kitchen. Leonard is actually a great guy. He’s funny, loyal, independent, cute in a pocket protector sort of way, ambitious, social, successful, smart, and doesn’t mind looking like a nerd when he’s having fun. Even if he is shorter than my preference and probably can’t shoot a gun better than I can, I’d give the guy a chance. On second thought…
I’m 25 and just shy of a Masters degree. Twenty-seven-year-old, PhD-wielding, first season Leonard would be a great match for me. Penny, on the other hand, is an incredibly lost and immature 22-year-old. Yes, at 22, some women are working full-time and planning a wedding. They have an understanding of their life goals and finances. I get that. Some, however, are collecting Hello Kitty panties while they wait for their fontanelles to close, like Penny. This girl has moved from Nebraska to LA with the hopes of becoming an actress. She laments the fact that she cannot accomplish her goal, yet rarely attends any auditions. She works at the Cheesecake Factory and spends well beyond her means, not just shopping, but by living alone in an apartment that two physicists can afford to share. She’s lost and looking for direction in life, a not uncommon occurrence at her age and the entire basis for the Fifty Shades series. She’s often short on her rent, so she needs someone else to pick up the slack, pay for her internet, cover her share of the fast food bill, and just generally finish raising her. Enter Leonard.
Despite his success and security in his career, Leonard is desperately clinging to the idea that the nerd can get the girl. You know what? That’s pretty danged true. Many women his own age have dated enough douche bags to look past the superficial stuff and recognize a decent guy. Leonard, however, is too insecure to approach those girls, so he takes advantage of the hot chick next door, who is desperately seeking someone to take care of her. Penny sees this in steady and reliable Leonard and mistakes it for romantic feelings, so he takes his chance to prey on some of those daddy issues and get a piece of that Hello Kitty clad ass.
The issue here is not the general age difference, but the fact that Leonard and Penny are worlds apart in their interests, their aspirations, and their places in life. I don’t doubt that there are some couples who are 22 and 28 and function quite well. I doubt that Leonard and Penny could even possibly be one of them and that someone of Leonard’s intelligence wouldn’t immediately realize this. There’s no way he thinks he and Penny are even going to have common ground for small talk, but he pursues a relationship anyway, because the cheerleader turned him down one too many times. Penny just sees a nice guy who has his shit together, which appeals to her, because she so very much doesn’t. While both are adults and I’m by no means suggesting Leonard be placed on a national registry, I do think that based on his age and education, he’s more capable of recognizing “using someone” versus “dating someone” and therefore blame him for this destructive relationship.
Luke Danes of Gilmore Girls
When Lorelei Gilmore leaves her stifling upper-class home life as a teenager (baby in tow) she takes refuge in Stars Hollow, Connecticut: a town with an exorbitant land-tax, based on the number of elaborate festivals held each year. Seriously. That’s what the sign at the city limits should say. Lorelei raises her daughter in Stars Hollow and exchanges adorable daily banter with Luke, the local diner owner for years, before she sees what all her neighbors and the entire audience could already see and they finally get together.
Luke is a successful business owner, just like Lorelei. He’s funny, intelligent, frugal, and doesn’t let anyone push him around. Shockingly, he has very little baggage for a guy in his mid-thirties, except for an ex-fiance and delinquent nephew. He loves Lorelei’s daughter and clearly adores Lorelei in a way I can totally appreciate, because it doesn’t involve any obvious emotion or romance. Ew. This is on cable, people, not Showtime. He’s the perfect small town guy. On second thought…
Lorelei loves Stars Hollow, the home that took her in, because being wealthy is awful or something. She really gets into the ridiculous festivals and town meetings and is friends with everyone. Her daughter has spent her whole life here and it’s the only home she knows. Luke is a true native, but he’s so fucking negative all the time that I can’t help but hope he gets lost in a hay maze or run over by a colonial wagon. It’s not enough to just not participate in something, he has to take the time and effort to make everyone else feel stupid for enjoying their surroundings (and massive amount of tax dollars at work) and having a good time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a local hockey game. a town meeting, or a snowman building contest, Luke isn’t having fun unless he’s taking a shit on Taylor’s podium. Granted, that might be worth a celebration, but come on. He’s the fifteen-year-old who thinks it’s clever to publicly criticize everyone who likes Twilight or my coworker who says “That would lower my IQ” about all genre fiction.
No one is superior for disliking harmless fun. It’s fine to skip the All Night Danceathon. I don’t think I’d want to attend that either. However, attending it just to mock everyone who showed up sounds more exhausting than the event itself. Dating someone who’s constantly making you feel like an idiot for being involved in your community and immersing yourself in the local culture sounds like it would lead to the worst pillow talk ever.
Joey Tribbiani of Friends
I don’t care if I was six years old when the first episode of Friends aired. I can still totally relate to the depiction of the random years between college and babies, when you’re trying to figure out who you are and what you want in life. You know, the years that don’t exist in the Midwest. Joey Tribbiani was cute, loyal to his friends, good with birds (totally loses points for that, because birds are terrifying), funny, laid back, supposedly good in bed, and just generally comfortable to be around. He’d have been great for Phoebe, and not only because they were the only two left. On second thought…
I don’t even know how Joey Tribbiani got five friends, because he was a horrible person. This show started with a 24-25-year-old Joey, who was still trying to be an actor. In time, he makes it on a soap opera, which is indeed impressive. The problem is that this lasted only two or three seasons out of ten. How did he support himself the other seven or eight seasons? Oh, yeah. He didn’t. It’s great to pursue your goals in life, but there’s a time to grow up and realize that you aren’t going to be a rock star. Perhaps you can still find a way to support yourself with your passion, and if so, that’s awesome. But that’s not what happened with Joey. He spent most of this series “borrowing” money from Chandler and stealing food from Monica and Rachel, all the while trying his best to contract some kind of venereal disease.
Not only was this guy a financial leech and a womanizer, but as the show went on, he became progressively stupider. I don’t understand how any of these people related to this guy after the first two years. Chandler and Ross were dedicated workers from the first episode, while Monica and Rachel (who were two years younger) found their passions and careers in a relatively reasonable amount of time. Phoebe may never have joined the corporate world, but she did pay her own way through a means she enjoyed. In fact, Phoebe was the grown-up version of Joey, dreaming of being a singer while still working a day job she found financially and personally satisfying. It’s not like Joey even paid back his friends’ generosity in any other ways either. Joey half-asses every relationship in his life, from refusing to share food with his date to losing every single item in an apartment where he doesn’t even regularly pay rent. How did the guy even get laid past age 30 while claiming to be an actor with no day job and few auditions? I know I can’t wait to
adopt support marry this guy.
What the hell kind of list am I working from? Present day, 00s, 90s, and then the fucking 40s? For realz, though. If you haven’t thought of George Bailey’s big ol’ greyscale hands while masturbating, you’re doing it wrong.
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George Bailey is the epitome of American Family Man. He has a sense of family loyalty to rival the Godfather, lost his hearing saving his baby brother, is kind (but not too kind) to the town slut, stands up to Potter, and repeatedly sets aside his own happiness to do what’s right for everyone else. He’s good-natured, charismatic, and the whole town freaking loves him. On second thought…
George Bailey whines more than any single holiday movie character ever and that includes Charlie Brown wanting to kill himself and Ralphie wanting his Red Ryder BB gun. So you gave up going to college to take over the Bailey Building and Loan, George? Well, that’s what happens when you choose to give up going to college to take over the Bailey Building and Loan. You got married instead of traveling the world? Well, that’s what happens when you choose to marry before you’ve traveled the world. No one forced this guy to do anything. George and Mary are about to embark on their honeymoon when they get news of a run on the banks and solve the issue by handing out their own savings. Then the babies come and they keep on coming, so the trip never happens. I didn’t once hear Mary complain about missing her honeymoon and giving birth to George’s litter under the stairs. She didn’t mention how she could’ve been the rich wife of Sam Wainwright instead of listening to George bitch all the time (though according to an alternate reality, no one would’ve wanted her and she’d have become ::duh duh duh:: A LIBRARIAN! Fuck. Off.) The guy wanted credit for making the choices for the greater good, but still wanted pity for all he sacrificed. Life is still about sacrifice and choices and that was far truer in the 1940s. This guy was no trailblazer for his hard times. Instead of standing by his choices, being proud of all the good he’s done, and leading by example, George complains so much that the freaking Heavens intervene. Angels are actually sent down to Earth to shut this guy up. Sure, I want to marry someone good and selfless one day, but not if I have to forever hear about how good and selfless he his.
How about these writers take the best qualities of all these guys – the smarts, the financial awareness, the laid back attitude, the confidence, and the sense of responsibility – and toss out the insecurity, the negativity, the laziness, and all the fucking whining? I’d write fan-fiction over that. Also, make him look like this…