As I’ve thoroughly explained in old posts, TV shows have become an interesting, and substantial, platform to debate, and create, topics of interest within the young, and millennial, audiences nowadays, and gender politics hasn’t been the exception.
For those of us that grew on the nineties watching sitcoms (and, as in my case, telenovelas too) the stories we were used to see depicted most of the men and women like this immovable sexist stereotype, where woman can be called a ‘Crazy Bitch’ without any remorse whilst the typical ‘Nice Guy’ will often ended stuck in a relationship with this kind of person, hoping that all her quirks and bits would save him from himself one day.
Same stereotypes that certain movies from the early millennium loved to strengthen in their stories. Films like (500) Days Of Summer, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, 10 Things I Hate About You and Elizabethtown that conveniently converted the Crazy Bitch into the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ and left the Nice Guy to indulge himself with her savior-ish complex.
Thus, following this idea, for every Tom there’s a Summer waiting to break his heart over and over again, until Autumn arrives. For every Joel there’s a Clementine hoping to meet him again to re-enter the obsessive cycle they’re in. For every Patrick there’s a Kat wiling to enlist everything she loves about him in spite of her beliefs. For every Drew there’s a Claire awaiting to save him from suicide with the magic of an intricate map and a red hat.
You see, these stories told million of persons, for a long time, that a Nice Guy will always be that anxious, shy, type of person that, by the simple fact of being nice, is entitled to every girl he has crossed upon his life, and that the Crazy Bitch (A.K.A The Manic Pixie Dream Girl) will ever be that odd, tempered, quirky, lost soul that somehow, sometime, will eventually end up dating a Nice Guy. Yikes.
In recent years, this well-crafted and static ideas have changed. Some films, like Ruby Sparks, have engaged interesting debates around gender politics by making overhauling deconstructions of sexist stereotypes within creative tropes and vivid narratives. Ruby Sparks (the character) is written by Calvin (the Nice Guy) to be (literally and metaphorically) the Crazy Bitch that’s gonna save him from himself. As we all know, things don’t end quite well.
Some TV Shows like Love, the new Judd Apatow Netflix dramedy, really managed to put the finger right on the gender politics debate by developing a story, full of cliches and tropes found on traditional rom-coms, that falls right into an elaborate and well-thought deconstruction of their protagonists, who happen to be a Nice Guy and a Crazy Bitch.
Gus is an anxious, insecure geek guy whose major trait, which he can be proud of, is his niceness that he gawkily shows off to everyone he can. Mickey, on the other hand, is a self-absorbed, tactless addict who has no interest in anything on particular. They both meet thanks to a twist of fate and, immediately, embark on a new adventure together. The typical boy-meets-girl story.
When they are together, or with any other people for that matter, they’re perfect showing their best facade: he is nice, she is blunt. He goes around rubbing into people’s faces that he is rather solicitous whilst she is indifferent to anything and anyone; the perfect sexist stereotypes.
Thanks to the fabulous narrative tool of portraying each others lives individually (they spend more time by themselves than together) the creators allow themselves to deconstruct, and reconstruct, this stereotypes to their core to help us understand the true meaning of both ideas.
As it turns out, Gus’ niceness is not that nice at all, and his kindness quickly transforms into hostility. He’s so convinced that he is such a good person that he thinks he deserves a great life, with the perfect Manic Pixie Dream Girl to go with it. He sees that life with Mickey and immediately idealizes her as that free-spirited girl who came into his life to give it some meaning, but when Mickey doesn’t give him that in return, all hell breaks loose.
Yes, Mickey is a troubled person, with her own complicated stuff to deal with, but that doesn’t mean that her only goal in life is to look for someone who can solve her problems and instantly make them go away, even if a Nice Guy might seem the perfect choice to do so. She’s also an addict, and she needs to be with someone that fulfills her needs whilst helping her to recognize them. She is not a trophy or an ideal of a woman. She is who she is, nothing more, nothing less.
He can call her crazy as many times he wants to and still she will not be the Crazy Bitch he imagines she is. She can look for that Nice Guy who can be the wonderful exception on her love life and still feel empty and undesired. Relationships are hard, and people can get lost between the idea they have of a person and the actual person that’s in front of them.
That’s what stereotypes do. They erase every trait, feature and bit that makes a person unique and, somehow, manages to put everyone that shares something (anything, really) inside a box with blurry limits and a bunch of heavy prejudices to live by.
The Nice Guy and the Crazy Bitch exists only inside our minds. In the real world people are much more complex than that. We are not our gender, and our gender does not defines us. We can be nice, crazy, depressive, manic, happy and sad and still not want to be a part of any stereotype. We should, and we must, deconstruct the stereotypes that surround us in order to understand the way paradigms in gender politics affect us and how do they work.