Bad Boys vs. Nice Guys Pt. 1: The Lloyd Dobler Effect

No, not the band.

There’s been a lot of talk around the blogosphere recently about the general love of bad boys. I’ve seen a few folks saying that nice guys can work too (and a few more actually claiming “bad boy” status on characters I would certainly categorize as “nice guys”) but it’s pretty much nothing compared to the wave of bad boys taking over books.

My writer friends have been noting the phenomenon as well. One writer was bemoaning the current trend of “the badder the better” and saying it used to be the bad boy hero was some dude who’d just killed a man. Then it became an assassin with a heart of gold. Then just an assassin. Then just a murderer. Another writer wondered if this onslaught was a factor of readers wanting to live vicariously through the exploits of a fictional heroine who walks on the wild side with a lover who is mad, bad, and dangerous to know. But, hasn’t that always been the case with bad boys in fiction? This isn’t a NEW trend. So why now are books filled with ever more reprehensible men?

Bad boys never did it for me. I never had a thing for Heathcliff (abusive, horrible puppy-killer!) or Mr. Rochester. I liked Gilbert Blythe and the fine, upstanding, stick-in-the-mud (if jerky) Mr. Darcy. (Actually, I *really* liked Captain Wentworth, who I suppose had the technical bad boy edge of being a privateer.) I thought Angel was a sociopath, and though I liked Spike as a character, I was never attracted to him and found his relationship with Buffy to be utterly laughable (as opposed to his relationship with Drusilla, which I actually found quite effective and moving). Me, I liked Riley — til they ruined him, that is.

(It is important to note that I do not think that angst=bad boy. Edmund Pevensie, upon whom I have a crush I’ve actually been paid to write about in detail, is angsty — but not a bad boy. He had one little lapse in judgment, and proceeds to spend the rest of the books atoning for it. A lot of bad boys are, however, angsty, which is usually our entry into sympathizing with them.)

So the only bad boy I ever fell for was Logan Echolls of Veronica Mars. And I fell hard. Perhaps it helped that Logan was still a child, and it was possible for him to rise above his abusive father and horrific home life that was making him into a psychotic jackass (See above re: angst and sympathy). I watched the end of the first season of VM with my heart in my throat worried/terrified that Logan had murdered his ex-girlfriend Lilly in a fit of jealous rage. And through it all, I loved him. My one bad-boy crush.

Perhaps my love for Logan helped when I found myself crafting my own bad-boy love interest — or what one reviewer (positively, if you can believe it) called “the asshole love interest.” It certainly hadn’t been my intention to write that guy, and it was really challenging too, to make it believable — to me — that a reasonable woman would take that kind of risk with her heart or with her safety. It took the better part of a book to set up a situation where I could even get her to a point where she’d initiate it, and another book entirely to get the relationship off the ground. It had to be believable for me.

And it worked, if the reader responses are anything to go by. People love Poe. I sometimes wonder how much they love him, and how much they love the trope of the bad boy. I worked hard on him, but most folks were on board right from the start. There’s something about bad boys that gives them that capital. Ironically, though bad boys have a population of readers ready to love them from the word go, good boys have to work five times as hard.

Here are the struggles they face:

  • If they are sweet and considerate, they are perceived as weak.
  • If they are steadfast, loyal, and sure of their feelings for the girl, they are perceived as desperate, lying, or too good to be true.
  • If they are fine upstanding citizens, they are perceived as bland and goody-two-shoes.

Even Persnickety Snark, in her attempt at a “defense” of good boys calls them out on these things: “Too often nice comes across as boring.”

And to those naysayers, I present Mr. Lloyd Dobler:

Let’s face it, we all want John Cusack standing outside our house with a boombox.

And the whole point of Say Anything, really, is that Lloyd embodies everything that a bad boy is not. He’s sweet, and considerate, and unassuming, and steadfast, and stand-up, and absolutely, unequivocally in love with a girl that everyone thinks outclasses him.

MIKE: I wanted to ask you: how’d you get Diane Court to go out with you?
LLOYD: I called her up.
MIKE: Yeah, but how come it worked? I mean, like, what are you?
LLOYD: I’m Lloyd Dobler.
MIKE: This is great. This gives me hope. Thanks.

Lloyd isn’t boring or weak (he can manhandle drunks at a party pretty handily), but he’s also pretty accepting of the fact that his general lack of ambition and his vague idea of being a “professional kickboxer” doesn’t hold a candle to Diane’s future and destiny. So why do we like him so much?

A friend of mine told me it’s because Say Anything is, ultimately, Lloyd’s story. It’s not the story of a high-powered ambitious girl who accepts the gentle love and devotion of a nice guy like Lloyd Dobler. It’s about Lloyd, everyone’s favorite everyman, who through true love and devotion wins his prize of the beautiful girl. We’re with Lloyd. We really want him to get his heart’s desire, and when he does, we cheer.

But what if this was Diane’s story? Would we then perceive Say Anything as being about a very successful girl who takes pity on the class slacker, has a little summer romance, and when her life goes all topsy-turvy, settles, knowing this guy is willing to be her house-husband and general shoulder to lean on in England? Comforting, sure, but not exactly the stuff of high passion.

Heck, even Lloyd’s cadre of girlfriends (a delicate balancing act, from a writer’s perspective, to present Lloyd as being platonically beloved by women without coding him as someone who is not boyfriend material) have to have a discussion about his catch-factor:

REBECCA: Hey, I know this is a strange thing to say, but maybe Diane Court really likes Lloyd.
COREY: If you were Diane Court, would you honestly fall for Lloyd? (long pause) Yeah.
DC: Yeah!

And maybe it also helps that Lloyd is so in love with Diane — standing-outside-the-window-with-a-boombox kind of love. But of course, that kind of thing can backfire on a nice guy. In high school, my friends and I used to say that a romantic gesture had nothing to do with the gesture — it was the guy doing it. If you liked the guy sending you secret notes and flowers, it was romantic. If you didn’t, it was lame and stalkery. If it wasn’t cutie-pie John Cusack — Lloyd Dobler who we were all rooting for — standing out there with the boom box, we’d probably recommend that Diane call the cops.

I ran into that problem myself with Brandon. The sweeter and more romantic Brandon was to Amy (and, most importantly, the less that Amy responded to it) the more his actions were viewed by the readership as lame and desperate. So maybe it’s that Amy actually likes the equally lame (from an objective standpoint) stuff that Poe pulls. I mean, a half-eaten pack of LifeSavers as a present? Not exactly diamonds and chocolates.

As the reactions to the boys in the SSG series came in, I was fascinated by what readers chose to believe of Amy’s narration and what they discarded. All first person narrators are to some extent, unreliable, in that the reader only sees what they see. Even if they are telling the absolute truth to the reader, they are not omniscient, and they bring their own biases into the situation. Take, for example, Amy’s initial reaction in SSG to Clarissa’s overtures in the library. Because Amy hates Clarissa, she thinks Clarissa is trying to be bitchy to her and to question Amy’s right to be tapped by Rose & Grave. Later, of course, we discover that Clarissa was honestly curious. Readers assume Amy’s version of events, and are corrected only when Amy is.

(Of course, some of them are never corrected. I am always surprised by the number of letters I get from people who hate Clarissa, even though Amy grows to love her.)

So perhaps readers’ disdain for Brandon’s romantic efforts is a result of Amy’s disdain. And yet, Amy is plenty disdainful of Poe through both SSG and UTR, and I got lots of letters at the end of UTR that were pro-Poe. (Which, honestly, was a relief, given what I was about to do with the storyline.) It’s hard for me to say, since I’m the writer. Were there subtle manipulations coding the reader to root for Poe over Brandon? Sure, why not? Are my skills as a writer, then, not up to snuff if I haven’t succeeded in making you root for the romantic coupling of my choice?

Now there’s a question to get neurotic over.

It’s interesting that there seems to be a definite line between “steadfast” and “obsessive”. The former is the realm of the good boy, and it’s apparently boring and desperate. The latter is the realm of the bad boy (he climbs in your bedroom window, he stalks you, he’s always there, watching you). It’s apparently sexy. Spike is an excellent example of this. He chased after Buffy no matter how much she told him to stop, no matter how much his obsession with her became increasingly desperate and pathetic (first making his real girlfriend, Harmony, dress up like Buffy for sex games, then later, making his own Buffy sexbot), and viewers still found him incredibly attractive and cheered him on. Now, tell me truthfully. If you found out that some dude had a crush on you and when you rejected him, he dressed up a sex doll to look just like you — ummm. Hot? I don’t think so.

(I found the most lovelorn pic of Spike I could for this part, and, sidebar, do you know if you just google the word “Spike” this is most of what comes up? No actual, you know, spikes.)

There are some old screenwriting tricks writers sometimes use to create sympathy for an otherwise unlikeable character. If he’s mean, show that other people — people we’re inclined to like — like him. Have him be sweet to children or small animals.This is called “save the cat.”

When we see Logan going to get the belt his father will beat him with, we understand there’s a reason behind his jackass nature. When Spike risks death to protect Dawn, we see that he really does care about both Summers girls. Personal sacrifice, vulnerability, unshakeable interest in the heroine (who can’t help but be at least flattered, though returning the interest is the brass ring)… these are all games that you get to play with the bad boy. But the good guy? He’s not otherwise unlikeable. The readers already know his vulnerabilities. They like him.

They just don’t lurrvvve him.

Except when they do? Why do we swoon over Lloyd Dobler when he’s nothing like Logan Echols?Or are they different populations entirely that do the swooning? Are some of always going to be Team Bad Boy and some of us always going to be Team Nice Guy? And what does that make of me, Team Nice Guy, except for that one little dalliance with Logan?

Stay tuned to find out!

Posted in bookaholic, boys, movies, narnia, romance, SSG, story, television, veronica mars, writing life, YA Tagged

30 Responses to Bad Boys vs. Nice Guys Pt. 1: The Lloyd Dobler Effect

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  2. Patrick says:

    I’ve always considered this Spiderman vs. Wolverine.

  3. Sara says:

    First off, I own both Veronica Mars and Say Anything. Logan is my biggest character crush ever, but a close second would be Vaughn of Alias – who is very much not a bad boy.

    This is a really great post, with some really great points. Bad boy vs. Good guy: eternal struggle.

  4. Michelle says:

    This is a subject that my writing/reading buddy and I have all the time. Personally I’m always, in a sort of reflexive way, totally drawn to the hot a**hole. But in real life, no WAY I would pick him. Of course, I also love reading books with lots of bloody battles and wild adventures and terrifying supernatural badguys, but in real life I can barely stand to kill a spider, I like my days quiet and uneventful, and I’m terrified of skunks. So I think, for me anyway, the hot a**hole (along with all the slaughter and mayhem and creepy monsters) is a way to explore the proverbial dark side–which I don’t really feel like indulging much in the real world. Probably helps me maintain sound mental health. (My stepchildren, however, might disagree about the soundness of my mental health . . .)

  5. JJ says:

    Really excellent post. I think a lot about the “bad boy” phenomenon in fiction, mostly because I don’t like them. But of course, if I issue a blanket statement proclaiming I hate ALL bad boys, someone is bound to find an exception. (Case in point: my unabashed love for Edward Fairfax Rochester. I have no idea why I love him. I just do. Same goes for Benjamin Linus of Lost.)

    I AM SO WITH YOU ON GILBERT BLYTHE BY THE WAY. And Edmund Pevensie. Not so much on Mr. Darcy though. My favourite Austen hero is Henry Tilney.

    I feel the problem with the “nice” boy in fiction is that he’s often not imbued with any sort of realistic flaw, in much the same way a lot of bad boys aren’t. Only the idea that someone could hurt you but WON’T because of his LURVE for you is much more “exciting” than the idea that someone just loves you because…he does. One implies that the heroine is Unique and Special somehow to be the girl the bad boys one. The other is an ordinary romance.

    Now, I love me the nice boys. I really do. Simon of Cassandra Clare’s MORTAL INSTRUMENTS trilogy is MY FAVOURITE CHARACTER EVER. Even before he was a vampire. I think Sam from Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER is another great example of a wonderful nice boy romantic lead.

  6. Diana says:

    Patrick, I’m not familiar enough with Spiderman to say, but Wolverine never really did it for me (the comics not the movies — Hugh Jackman’s W is hawt). Did like Remy, tho, and he was kinda a bad boy, yeah?

    Or maybe I just liked to think of myself as Rogue?

  7. Diana says:

    Michelle, whole books have been written about living out the bad boy fantasy in fiction, while in actuality not dating anyone with those qualities. It’s interesting.

    I’ll also be talking later about the nice guy who is not nice phenomenon. Which is real life, not fiction.

  8. Diana says:

    JJ, do you think that’s it? that nice guys aren’t viewed as flawed? Because it seems to me to be the opposite — that their flaws are so much more readily apparent — or that readers are so willing to jump on any flaw they can find because they perceive a nice guy as being “weak.” I’ll be talking about that more tomorrow, too.

    I’m with you on Simon — so are a lot of folks, which is why Cassie is writing a whole book about him now.

  9. JJ says:

    I would argue that the nice boy’s flaws aren’t necessarily “real” flaws: he might be perceived as “weak” by either the reader or the heroine, but what makes him “weak”? Because he’s sensitive? Or in touch with his emotions? I don’t think those are “flaws” so much as traits that render him harmless rather than dangerous, therefore less interesting.

    If we go back to Simon from the MI books, he’s absolutely the nice boy next door, but he’s also realistically flawed. He’s a loyal friend, but that doesn’t stop him from being self-centered or petty (especially about Jace). He can be somewhat stupid about love and a little dense, even. If Simon had ONLY been the loyal and steadfast friend, he wouldn’t have leaped off the page with such clarity for me.

  10. Diana says:

    JJ, I’m confused. You say nice guys aren’t realistically flawed, but then you point out how Simon is realistically flawed. I think what you are talking about is, well, well-written vs. not well-written. There are badly written bad boys too — ones with absolutely no redeeming value where it’s mystifying how anyone likes them.

    What I was trying to say is that I think people are willing to overlook a lot of flaws in bad boys — because flawed is kind of the point — but POUNCE on any perceived flaw in a nice guy. And I’ll be talking about that later as well.

  11. Lisa S. says:

    I am all the way on your side Diana. I don’t like bad boys. I don’t like seeing girls in fiction and even worse, real life end up with bad boys. And I don’t like that so many girls want and/or route for the bad boys. I stopped reading a series because the girl was having a hard time choosing between the good and the bad boy! And believe me, the good guy was NOT boring, he just wasn’t ‘mysterious’ or ‘challenging’ or ‘complicated’ like the bad boy. UGH!

    Ok, ok, I will admit that I am in love with Logan Echolls. Do I consider him a bad boy, though? No. I don’t. He was a jackass that’s for sure but look at his life! His mom was an alcoholic addicted to meds who killed herself, his dad was an abusive (not only physical but emotional) murderer, his sister cared more about her ‘career’ than him and his first love cheated on him constantly then was murdered. So he was messed up BUT even with all that he was a pretty decent guy who, although he might not have believed it himself, was not his father or mother or sister. I think Logan fits in your ‘angst’ but not ‘bad boy’ category.

  12. JJ says:

    Oops, I wasn’t as clear as I meant to be, sorry! I am on Team Nice Guy, for the record. I think I was trying to say that I can understand why some girls don’t like the Nice Guy: when he isn’t well-written, he can perceived as less interesting compared to the Bad Boy because he doesn’t have sufficiently realistic flaws to make him, you know, an actual three-dimensional character and therefore worth your interest.

    I think people are more forgiving of badly-written Bad Boys because the Bad Boy’s “arc” (however clumsily executed) that he changes for the better because of love. (Supposedly. I would argue about Heathcliff.) The Nice Guy doesn’t have that same arc, so a poorly-written Nice Guy can be seen as boring. (I don’t see too many people cheering on Edgar Linton.)

  13. Diana says:

    I agree with that, JJ. I think any character has to be realistically flawed.

    I can’t speak to Linton, either. Mostly I think I just hated all the characters in that book so much I didn’t have time to find out if Edgar was actually nice or, you know, just not out torturing small animals in his spare time like Heath.

  14. Heather says:

    I think there is some truth in the bad boy thing and the witchy girl thing in real life. How many times have you questioned a friend who went out with the wrong person. We all know it’s wrong but that friend never listens until they are heartbroken. Example Taylor Swift’s “You belong to me”

    I hated Say Anything! Watching it for the first time was like a root canal. I was screaming at the TV for Lloyd to walk away and leave her. Sorry, I like Lloyd but Diane Court was awful. She reminded me of my brilliant but dimwitted freshman roommate who didn’t know how to use an ATM machine or her cell phone. For someone as nice as Lloyd, Diane was the wrong girl for him.

    But I think it is all down to what type of relationship you want. Most books, TV and Movies take it to the extreme with the Bad Boy/Witchy Girl thing for a point but I think a lot of just like the confidence those characters have plus they are usually hot.

    Really who loves an ugly bad guy? (Okay Bellatrix may have a thing for Voldemort but she’s nuts)

    As for me, I have dated some really nice guys but there was one that just gave me these creepy puppy dog looks of adoration and it was just weird. I want passion and romance not puppy dog looks.

    I work in a very male dominated profession and I have to be pushy and aggressive all day. I don’t want to always be the dominate one in the relationship but I don’t always want to be submissive either.

    I want someone to challenge me and excite me. I want someone who will make me a better person, just for being with them. If I want puppy dog eyes, I know lots of dogs in the pound waiting to be rescued.

    I see that difference (through Amy’s eyes) between Poe and Brandon. Brandon is the puppy dog eye guy, I will do anything you ask me because I’m in luuuuuuuve and you take advantage of him. (Case in point Felicity and Brandon via the secret story) He is sweet and is caring and perfect for someone like Felicity because that is what she wants in a guy.

    Poe on the other hand, does not take crap from Amy. He has an attitude and a temper maybe but it’s not like he kills anyone. He respects Amy for her struggles and opinions. He doesn’t change his opinions just because she wants women in the club. He’s position of “women would have caused XYZ with the patriarchs” (which it did happen) never wavered but he does listen to her side of the story and problems during the bidding process in book 4.

    Poe was someone you liked to hate at the beginning. Someone who you start to understand by book 2. Someone you like in book 3 and love at the end.

    Poe and Amy’s relationship is realistic but it’s not for everyone. Some people are more like Felicity and Brandon or Lloyd and Diane where one is the adorer and the other is the adored. Is it wrong….nope….just not for me.

  15. Lisa S. says:

    I totally agree with you, JJ. If a good guy is written poorly, he tends to be boring and one-dimensional. Like the only thing that defines him is that he is good. A bad boy is a lot more interesting, even if written poorly.

    What I don’t like in books or movies is when the characters aren’t dimensional or real. They are defined one way with no ‘what makes them that way?’ or ‘what other ways could they be defined?’ explanation. People are complex. Very rarely do you find someone who is purely evil or purely good. What’s with movies where the bad guy has NO redeeming quality whatsoever? Where he is just BAD and you feel no remorse when he dies? Or the good guy who has no flaws, who’s just amazing at EVERYTHING? Yeah … riiiiiight.

    Anyway, that’s why I love your books so much, Diana. The characters are real and complex. They have motives, which are clear to the reader, and sometimes they themselves don’t understand why they do things. I can see myself and other REAL people in a lot of your characters. And that’s the way it should be!

    This could go along with your Lloyd Dobler theory. Maybe we love him because we KNOW him. Maybe if the story was told through Diane we wouldn’t come to love Lloyd because we wouldn’t understand his appeal or see his charm.

  16. JJ says:

    Edgar Linton is a total milquetoast, but not in a way that’s the least bit humorous. And I love me some funny, effeminate cowards. But humor goes a long way in softening my feelings toward characters; if the character is drawn with a comic hand, I’ll tend to love him/her unreservedly, despite some very questionable morals. 🙂

  17. Jennifer says:

    I agree with JJ to some extent on the appeal of the bad boy. It’s the “Chosen One” thing. Bad Boy acts like an ass to everyone else but you, so You Must Be Special! Right? Only those of us who don’t go for this don’t go for it because we’re aware that the guy who acts like an ass to everyone else is, sooner or later, going to treat YOU like shit as well. This is why I can’t stand a good chunk of romance novels that have Asshole Heroes. I can’t help but think that Mr. Jerk Millionaire is going to be bitching her out later about misplacing his cashmere socks if the novel went on for much longer.

    On the other hand, there’s genuine nice guys, Nice Guys (TM) (i.e. jerks in denial), and The Baxter, i.e. the boring guy the girl settles for because she feels like she can’t find someone who’s more interesting. Now that guy’s got a reputation…

  18. Michelle says:

    I’m not sure I could read a whole book about living out the bad guy fantasy in fiction . . . unless the book was really, you know, people’s fantasies . . . LOL!

    I had another thought too, though, that my most FAVORITE thing is the guy who APPEARS to be bad–or at least, leaves us guessing whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy–and then it turns out in the end that he actually IS a good guy, we just didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle.

    (This is, I think, what Sarah Rees Brennan refers to as a pastry:

    I think part of my attraction for the broody bad boys comes out of my Polyanna tendencies: I expect (or at least hope) that he will prove to be not really as bad as we thought at some point in the story.

  19. Annie says:

    I think that a lot of problems with Nice Guys in fiction is that they’re often written as a specific counterbalance to the bad boy, so they don’t seem to spark on their own. It’s like they just exist to be everything another character is not.

    Going with your example of Logan Echolls (although I agree with Lisa S. that he’s not really a bad boy, though he definitely gets labeled that all the time) I give you Rob Thomas’s Nice Guy answer: Piz, from the third and much more mediocre season. Piz didn’t exist for any reason other than to be a new love interest for Veronica, one who was nothing like Logan. Logan was spoiled and rich, so Piz often talked about how he was middle-class and hard-working. Logan was aimless, but Piz had a love for music and DJing. If Logan said black then I’m sure Piz would have said white.

    I think the people behind VM automatically assumed that any flack Piz received would be simply because he was in the way of Logan and Veronica. That might be true for some, but I think Piz was ridiculed because he was so flat and one-dimensional. Rob Thomas didn’t get that. Rob Thomas, gasp, said that he was like Lloyd Dobler.

    Whether he’s a nice guy or a bad boy, the only thing that I want out of a character is for him to be interesting. I want to be compelled by him in some way, and for reasons other than his face-value label.

  20. Patrick says:

    I lean more toward the classic good guy hero and Spiderman has always represented that to me. “With great power comes great responsibility” is the motto of Spiderman. He is a gawky dweeb for a secret identity.

    Wolverine is an anti-hero. Heck, he stabs people. And he has no secret identity. More of a take me as I am/screw you type of personality.

    I never really identified with him.

    It goes along with your theory of transition that it seems to be gaining strength in the badder the better theory. Spiderman is a much older character than Wolverine.

    It’s almost as if the classic good guy hero has to be a bit naive, because if not, they would be the bitter, realist, anti-hero.

    I never liked Gambit and always prefered “Can’t Buy Me Love” to “Say Anything”

  21. Lell says:

    Aw, crud. I’m halfway through the first Mortal Instruments book and I didn’t know any of that about Simon. *sigh* Ah well.

    To me the ultimate “good guy” vs. “bad boy” from Buffy would be from the first and second season, with Angel and Xander. Spike was just an aberration that needed to be ended with a pointy stick. But it does kind of prove the point you’re making here. Xander, in the sixth season, proved to be one of the strongest characters because his sheer amount of heart rather than superpower, but in Xander/Angel, he always came out the loser. In fact, the only time he was viewed as a viable candidate for Buffy was when he was…possessed by a hyena spirit and became the bad boy himself? And then that became creepy rather quickly.

    (Sorry, I would join in the VM stuff, but never watched it…or “Say Anything.” I know, bad Lell)

    I can’t declare myself Team Nice Guy or Team Bad Boy either. It varies. I wanted the main character of Meg Cabot’s mediator series to end up with the bad guy because the scenes with him were more interesting, though if I met him in real life, I’d agree that he sucks. Same goes for Brandon and Poe (except for the sucking part). But I like the aforementioned Simon.

    Sometimes we perceive a character as “settling” when she ends up with a nice guy because that doesn’t allow for any growth with the main character whatsoever. To end up with the Bad Boy, there’s inevitably going to be some sort of change — whether it’s giving up everything that makes you yourself a la Sandy in Grease or just stepping out of your comfort zone and going into a world you might not otherwise ever visit, like a motorcycle bar on the back of his Harley. 🙂 It all comes down to how much the character has to change—too much and I don’t like it, too little and I don’t like it. And usually the character with the “too little” change is the steady, dependable Nice Guy, unfortunately.

    This probably didn’t make much sense. And it revealed just how much of a Buffy geek I really am. Whoops.

  22. Patrick says:

    Oh and I was cheering for Brandon, but could see how his actions were working against him.

    I think the difference between Poe and Brandon’s romantic gestures were more timing. I think Amy could love Brandon, but at the time she wasn’t in the right place for her to be loved like that.

  23. Nelly says:

    Great Post! I’ve thought about it and for me, I think it doesn’t have anything to do with being a good guy or a bad guy per say because in reality people aren’t always clear cut. For me it’s all about how I connect with the character and that’s all down to writing.

    For example, I love Gilbert Blythe. He’s sweet, considerate gentlemanly and I don’t see him as being of weak character. I would date him in a nanosecond. But if I go to Gone With The Wind, I could never figure out what Scarlett saw in Ashley. He was a total pansy in my mind, but in reality (or GWTW reality in any case) he probably was just as nice as Gilbert. I think that the negative reaction to Ashley and other “nice guys” comes from their ability to be the right guy for the heroine. Anne was sweet, smart and caring, Gilbert was her perfect match. Scarlett was written to be a larger than life character. I don’t think Ashley would have made her happy in the end because it wasn’t in his nature to be able to match her character the way Rhett did.

    For me, one of the most interesting dynamics of Bad Boy v. Nice Boy is found in Gilmore Girls: the Dean, Rory, Jess triangle. It’s interesting because they are equally well written, so the playing field was leveled. In my head, Dean was the perfect all-American cute boy with just a hint of wildness in him. (It was totally the leather jacket). He was the good guy but he wasn’t boring because he was written to be dynamic and realistic. He didn’t pretend to share ALL of Rory’s interests, instead they compromised in what they did. He stayed with her browsing books and she would go see Lord of the Rings. It was functional. His foil, Jess, was the complete opposite. Where Dean integrated himself to the community, Jess was always an outsider. The fact that he was a well read one was the only edge I could see him having over Dean. Dean didn’t stimulate Rory intellectually in the same was Jess did. But for me, that was the thing I never understood. How she could give up everything else she had with Dean for Jess, the literate bad boy. It never added up. I mean, I liked Jess’ character a lot, but I could never see him being the better guy. I always thought Dean was the guy for Rory, even in comparison to Logan, who was a mix of Dean and Jess. Logan had the intellectual black sheep bad boy appeal of Jess and the sweet gestures and protectiveness of Dean. I honestly don’t know why I never rooted for him and was glad she turned him down in the end. He probably would have made her happy. Actually, in their own way, each boy had the possibility of making her happy.

    I guess I don’t know which camp I’d fall into because I tend to think in a case by case basis. I don’t know why Angel’s behavior in Buffy never sent up the red flags that Edwards’ did in Twilight. I think of Edward as the creepiest of creepers, watching the girl sleep and stalking her, imposing his will on her. I recognize that Angel did a lot of the same things. But I guess when I was watching the series I was connecting more with Buffy than with anyone else, so I saw him through her lens and thus ended up with a little bit of Angel love in spite of myself. By all rights he should end up in the category of Edwards and Rochesters, but I guess the writing of the show allowed him to escape that. I wasn’t unsatisfied with the answer Buffy gave him in the end though, I think it showed great maturity on her part to recognize that a relationship with him would stunt her growth as a person.

  24. Jo says:

    In Gone with the Wind, Ashley IS weak and not really a good guy at all. He would never choose Scarlett over Melanie, but he never actively discourages Scarlett either. He lives his comfortable life with Melanie, but lives vicariously the dangerous life with Scarlett, the ultimate bad girl/princess/diva!

    I’m with Lell on the Buffy stuff. Xander will always hold a place in my heart (swim team, anyone?) and I preferred Angelus to Angel because he was true to himself as a character, not a potential boyfriend. My true Buffy-love will always remain Giles though. How could anyone else compete…brains, looks, and sexy singing voice! Such a good guy (it probably helps that I was in my 30’s and over the teenage angst when I first watched Buffy).

  25. Alexa says:

    I love this post Diana!

    I completely agree with you about Spike and Drusilla – they were a great couple! I’m intrigued to see if you go the way of Riley with Giovanni. Will he stay completely normal or will he be tagging Unicorns in book 2? Yes I know, no spoilers!

    And Captain Wentworth, always my fave. That letter!!!

    And as for Logan I love him! I’ve just started season 2 of VM (bit slow on that one) but season 1 was fabulous. How could anyone not love Logan? Especially after the surprise birthday party scene. Clearly Veronica is meant to be with him. It better work out.

    I’m not sure if I have a team. I love both good and bad guys, maybe you’ll sway me in part 2. Looking forward to it.

  26. NotNessie says:

    Great post! I think you really hit the nail on the head. Except I sort of liked Piz. He was cute!

    Angie from Angieville sent me, because I just posted my own little rant about my love of good guys, and if you dont’ mind, I’d love to add a link to your post. Thanks!

  27. emma says:

    Oh Logan Echolls…
    Actually the good guy/bad guy stuf doesn’t do it for me, the deal is if the character is interesting or not. (And in movies, tv if the actor has the charisma).
    A good guy can be witty, funny and challenging and he will be rootable (think of Jim on the Office) but if he is passive, too perfect like most of the time it’s the deal breaker…
    We root for the character because we recognize something from us on him..and we are human and concept is not appealing for most of us. we want smart, real, interesting, chalenging aspects..

  28. suzie says:

    I just have to say, I love Logan Echolls!

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