• Tue, Jan 17 2012

Why Are Manic Pixie Dream Girls Getting Dumber?

zooey deschanel nw girl manic pixie dream girl

Look, let’s put aside the fact that manic pixie dream girls are inherently irritating, because the purpose of a woman’s life is not to make a boring accountant realize that he should run around naked in traffic. Unless that is her job, somehow. Unless it’s some sort of life coaching thing. Then I guess… life coaching is a field that really exists, in the real world, that real people pay for. People make choices. But that is never the case with manic pixie dream girls in the movies or television, because they never seem to have calculated career paths. They don’t want career paths! They just want to live!

That’s fine. That trope has existed for a very, very long time. The problem is not that that trope exists, it’s that it’s getting worse.

The manic pixie dream girl didn’t originate when critic Nathan Rabin went to see Elizabethtown and realized that Hollywood liked to cast women as a kind of  ”bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the imaginations of writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” If you’d like more on the kind of manic pixie dream girl Rabin is referring to, take a second to watch this video:

Irritating, right? But not always so much! Let’s take a walk through manic pixie dream girl history and say that it begins with Katharine Hepburn in Holiday. For your viewing pleasure, here is a picture:

katherine hepburn holiday manic pixie dream girl

Now that you have essentially seen the movie, let’s reflect on the plot. Katharine Hepburn plays a wacky heiress who keeps trying different jobs (performing onstage! Becoming a nurse!) while trying to find herself. In her spare time, she hides from the rest of her reserved family in her attic annex filled with childhood toys. Cary Grant plays a man engaged to Hepburn’s refined sister. He wants to go off and travel and see the world, but Hepburn’s sister and father want him to run a bank. He’s willing to go along with that, until he meets Hepburn, who makes him realize that he should have more fun, and not run a bank, basically. Meanwhile, he makes Hepburn leave her attic and go out in the world and commit to something.

This all sounds like pretty typical MPDG stuff, but let’s think about the movie’s most famous line. Cary Grant mentions he used to be a gymnast and Katharine Hepburn replies “can you do a back flip-flop? Can you really? You’ll have to teach me. I can do everything else.”  And you don’t doubt her. That is an incredibly empowered line. Hepburn’s character may be electing to hide in an attic with her stuffed giraffe (total manic pixie dream girl stuff), but she’s also smart, well dressed and able to carry on frighteningly fast paced witty conversations. You get the sense that if she’d never met Cary Grant, she still would have been just fine, because she could do anything. It was just slightly better – for both of them – that they did meet.

And then there was Holly Golightly. Remember her? Here’s a picture!

holly golightly manic pixie dream girl

Look at what a manic pixie dream girl she is! And, to be fair, she is a lot closer to a typical, modern day manic pixie dream girl than Hepburn in Holiday. Because this Hepburn (Audrey) hangs out playing the ukulele and has a job that was purposefully ambiguous, because Hollywood at the time was not willing to let her be a call-girl (fun fact: the studio organized a campaign to popularize the word “kook!” to describe Holly’s existence, so badly did they want to detract from that whole “hey, guys, she’s a prostitute” thing.)

And Holly’s existence is more than a little designed to let the male hero see that it would be fun to hang out in Tiffany’s and go shoplifting with cat masks on. Holly Golightly seems more likely to throw up her hands and say “I don’t know how to do anything!” than claim she knows how to do everything except a back flip flop. But she’s still able to interact with most people socially. She lives on her own. She tries to take care of her mentally stunted brother. She was independent enough to leave her first marriage and move to New York on her own. She dresses beautifully and hosts parties. She seems to have the bearing and demeanor of a grown-up. I mean, to the extent that she could impress the future president of Brazil into wanting to marry her. Way to be somewhat competent and able to survive in society, Holly Golightly!

Now let’s jump forward for a while. Let’s jump all the way forward to Garden State, often cited as one of the quintessential Manic Pixie Dream Girl films. Here’s a picture of Natalie Portman‘s character in it:

garden state natalie portman manic pixie dream girl

Now we’ve moved forward to a place where the female heroine can definitely not do everything. She can’t even live on her own, because she is an epileptic and a compulsive liar. So she continues to live with her mother, and wears headgear, and breaks into little dances when asked about how she is. Now, from this description you might think “this doesn’t sound like a particularly appealing person, unless I am specifically seeking out people who will make me feel better about meeting the bare minimum requirements for adulthood.” But she has reasonable reasons for not being able to live alone or be a grown-up! She has legitimate mental conditions!

She’s being painted as an incredibly desirable woman despite the fact that she has mental problems that would, in real life, make her fairly difficult to deal with. But she sure is pretty. Still, fine. There are reasons she can’t function. They make sense. Little dances and traditional good looks are enough to change the protagonist’s worldview entirely. They make him feel alive inside. Don’t bother going out and getting a job, ladies. Ugh. Okay.

Which brings us to New Girl.

zooey deschanel new girl manic pixie dream girl

Zooey Deschanel plays a kindergarten teacher who brings light and love into the lives of her male roommates by periodically bursting into song for no particular reason. Loudly. And generally being so inept that, well into her 20′s, she thinks that you should wear overalls to a fancy restaurant until she is gently corrected. But wow, does she ever have a childlike sense of wonder that is cunningly disguised as idiocy.

Seriously, pretend you have to hang out with either Zooey Deschanel in New Girl or Katharine Hepburn in Holiday. When Katharine Hepburn hangs out in an attic trading witty banter with you and talking about her hilarious adventures in nursing, you would have fun. When Zooey Deschanel starts breaking into a loud song at a restaurant – in her 20′s – you would… cringe. I’m betting you would cringe.

In 60 years, we’ve gone from idolizing women who were absolutely certain that they could do everything but back-flip-flops and Hollywood assuming that those would be the women who would set you free, to idolizing women who somehow made it 27 years without realizing that you don’t wear overalls to fancy restaurants. This seems like… it should have gone the opposite way?

What happened to us? As women as a whole became more competent, does being a life-changing outsider now require one to be incompetent? [tagbox tag="manic pixie dream girl"]

Maybe. Or maybe it’s mostly due to lowered expectations for the male protagonists, too. Because it’s worth noting that the male protagonists in these stories also seem progressively stupider. If Cary Grant’s character overshadowed Katharine Hepburn’s in some degrees of competence, well, he was Cary Grant. She was Katharine Hepburn. And their characters were both so high on the awesome scale that it was hard to tell. In Breakfast At Tiffany’s the protagonist isn’t a guy who could run a bank if he felt like it, he’s an extremely talented but penniless writer/kept man. He’s still slightly more competent than Holly Golightly, though, because he doesn’t hang out with mob bossses, and thus is able to take care of her. In Garden State Zach Braff may be a writer/actor who is detached from absolutely everything, but hey, he has his life more together than this epileptic, compulsive lying girl. And in New Girl the men may not have all that much going for them, and exist in some goofy bro-state most of the time, but they do know that you don’t break into songs at random intervals, presumably because none of them are 7 years old.

That at least makes some kind of sense, though not the kind that’s particularly good for people of either gender.

Now. Where can we learn how to do a back-flip flop?

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  • Cee

    I told my guy friends I did not like Zooey Dechanel because this is the character type she usually portrays, they literally lost their shit.

    • Quin

      God, I hope it wasn’t literally.

    • HeHa

      Did they find their shit again when the episode was over?

    • Cee

      Blurg! This kept posting in the wrong place:

      Shit was recuperated once I semi agreed to a mini Zooey marathon, they said I am not allowed to drink while I watch, but no one said anything about before! :p…her singing is awful and I KNOW she sings in all her movies!

  • endn

    I love this article, I love the history of the MPDG, it really highlights how bizarrely threatening people are finding capable women. It’s like, a Hpeburn-esque MPDG, being capable and complex as well as attractive and unusual, wields too much power when she inspires other people, specifically men. Thus the use of the attractive, kooky woman who is also endearingly clumsy, or “geeky”, or socially incompetent–damaged in some other way, so that she can still be dependent and vulnerable, and the focus can be on how she inspires men, rather than her own character and maturation. Hawt! New girl is a great example, I admit to enjoying the show but I don’t like how horribly annoying and socially inept she is, as if she’s so charming and cute that she betters her roommates’ lives even when she does things that would normally get a roommate kicked out/banned.

  • Megan

    Great article, and examples. I admit, I watch new girl and I find it funny, but when I think about it as a trope it’s annoying just how incompetent she is. New girl is full of trope characters (such as the creepy, but lovable bro Schmidt) but I can’t help but laugh at a lot of the really immature humour such as her inability to say penis (maybe because she yelled it at the top of her lungs in 500 days of Summer?)

  • Kaleena

    I love ‘New Girl’ because, whether or not it’s done on purpose, it seems like the character Jess has Aspberger’s Syndrome or at least a mild case. Think about that for a minute – she certainly exhibits some of the signs. What would be so wrong with that? It would be a relief to finally break such a boundary!
    She may be quirky but let’s not confuse quirky with dumb. There IS a difference. I am a very quirky individual but I dare someone to mistake me for dumb for I am FAR from it!
    Know the difference. ‘Sex in the City’ – dumb. ‘New Girl’ – refreshing, fun and makes those of us who can relate elated!

    • Cind

      Yes. I agree. These characters are not dumb, but bring a certain unconventional wisdom we can all learn from.

    • Magda

      At the risk of sounding like an arrogant prick, I am rather intelligent, well read and all that jazz. But I am quirky, eccentric. I am not immature but at times I make a conscious decision to act childish. Does that make sense? Im that girl that dances around and says random things about puppies and occasionally burst into song.

      Because of this people often forget how intelligent I really am, so when I actually say something relevant or reasonably smart sounding they act incredibly shocked and surprised. Its not that I intentionally try to act dumb. I dont know.
      Im not Carry(is that how you spell it?) helpless waiting for a man to rescue me. But I dont feel that I’m quite the stereotypical MPDG as the New Girl.

      Anyway, my point was, I get what you’re saying.

  • Kaleena

    I misspelled Aspergers. Sorry.

  • Cee

    Lol yes, they did, after many an argument about having me watch all her movies and her cuteness and blah blah blah. I asked if I can have alcohol while watching the show or movies and no…it was a no. Alas, they did..find their shit.

  • Cind

    Ever think that Zach Braff’s character in Garden State might not have landed someone like Natalie Portman if she wasn’t a little quirky, had epilepsy and lived with her mom? Braff plays a suicidal, out of work actor. Same goes for all the examples in this article; each “manic pixie dream girl” listed is pretty well-matched with her depressed, confused, male protagonist counterpart as far as ‘making it in the real world’ goes. I think these women are written into these stories not to help the men find their way, or ‘fix the world’, but to meet someone like them, someone less ‘normal’ or socially acceptable as defined by everyone else.

  • Cee

    Shit was recuperated once I semi agreed to a mini Zooey marathon, they said I am not allowed to drink while I watch, but no one said anything about before! :p…her singing is awful and I KNOW she sings in all her movies!

  • Sarah

    I think the point with New Girl is not really that Jess is naive nor that she is stupid. In the pilot, she tells Nick that he ought to smile rather than frown, rather simply. And Nick asks if he should be like her, singing about everything and trying to make it all seem better by simply feigning it. This is essentially existential psychology; fake it until you make it. I could not stand Zooey Deschanel before for exactly the reasons you stated, but New Girl changed my mind because there are glimpse’s into Jess’ complete and total self-awareness. She tells Nick that singing makes her feel better, and I believe that someone who spends all of her time around 5 year-old kids would try to employ techniques aimed at children to control her emotions. Wanting to wear overalls to a fancy restaurant does not make you an idiot, nor does it make you less of a feminist icon somehow; suggesting that we base our female admiration on who best adheres to social standards is ridiculous. There was a point at which a woman wearing anything but a dress would have been “stupid” or “ridiculous”, and you could make the same argument. New Girl is partially a farce comedy, and part of that is over-exaggerating certain quirks of its main character. That means, to make a point about the absurdity of gender norms that we completely take for granted (that women MUST wear dresses to dinner dates, not fancy overalls- HEAVEN FORBID!) they have the main character take it to the extreme and basically try to wear the opposite of it. Children are sometimes quite funny because they make similar silly mistakes, but the eyes of a child are said to be truth-telling because they show that our instincts about social conduct are not inherent like some other instincts.

    For a half-hour comedy to do something like that with a main character who is as easily exploitable as Deschanel shows an elegance and a nod to feminism that most shows do not. I would argue that it’s the male characters who are to be seen as the schmoe-like, more clueless ones. They’re trying so hard to adhere to what makes them okay by society’s standards- Nick’s stand-offish attitude, Schmidt’s manic attempt to be a fit ladies’ man, and Winston’s anxiety-provoking position of having a really well-honed skill that gets him zilch in the work place. All of these people- trying to stick to the norms and feeling miserable because of it are juxtaposed against Jess’ character, who sometimes sings her emotions and other times just states them. I don’t know if you’ve actually watched the rest of the show, but that was my take on it. sorry for the long-ness!

    • Dani

      I’d just like to thank you for providing intelligent and insightful commentary. You’re awesome!

    • Wow

      Well written :)

  • Alison Lee

    This is wonderfully written and so interesting. I would hang out with Hepburn any day. I’d also love to do an analysis of this as it applies to Auntie Mame (the iconic Rosalind Russell version, not the Lucille Ball musical). Mame is flighty, she redefines “free spirit” (or maybe defines, I don’t know, it was a long time ago), she never successfully holds a job, she’s charmingly terrible at every job she tries, and she’s probably a little insane. But she is completely self-guided and is absolutely the main character of the novel, her love interests are peripheral, and at the end of the film, she ends up single.

    …But, Auntie Mame was written, fittingly, by her nephew about his life with her. So while she is the star, it still ends up being about how her manic pixie-ness influenced him, and how he ended up married to someone she approved of.

    This is so seriously well done and I adore this site! Keep writing, ladies.

    • Jennifer Wright

      I LOVE Auntie Mame! I really like the Rosalind Russell version, too, although sometimes I worry the depiction of her in it veers a little too close to the “wonderful old character” the book uses to set up each chapter (and thereby show how Mame is not some sweet little wonderful old lady character).

      But that totally irrelevant “I read the book!” comment aside – Auntie Mame is also so smart. She gets herself into ridiculous scrapes, but she also gets herself out of them in a pretty capable way most of the time. And she doesn’t just teach Patrick to live, live, live – she also pretty directly stops him from making terrible decisions (marrying Gloria, or any of those three super-pretentious sisters in the book, becoming a beastly, bourgeois, Babbity little snob). And obviously, she’s witty and looks fabulous throughout it all.

  • Iota

    Are you really trying to make a feminist argument here when one of the articles on your page is, “13 reasons you should cook for your boyfriend”?

    • Iota

      …and “Why I got botox in my 20′s”???? Seriously??

    • Jennifer Wright

      Pointing out an obvious trend is not an argument of any kind.

    • Iota

      I agree, but technically I was using an example to make an argument, which, depending on who your favorite greek philosopher is, might be sufficient. Irony is, however, not an argument that necessarily speaks for itself, so I’ll make mine a bit more clear. I think the key element to the manic pixie is a lack of choice in her own actions. Ironically, the manic pixie is the least free of them all because she is so anxious about being “normal” and “contained” she refuses to acknowledge the shallow depth to which her quirks will substitute for things that free a person from anxiety, like a stable relationship. I see that in some of these characters, but not all of them.

    • Wow

      Bahahhaha thanks for pointing that out!

  • survivor1126

    I disagree with this article. Yes, I do love the female protagonists of the older movies, giving us all a great role model…but…

    I think woman these days are sick of constant reminders that they’re not these perfect role-model women.

    We are constantly surrounded by way-too-skinny models and celebrities and Martha-Stewart-like figures, and it can get maddening sometimes.

    We want to feel like it’s okay to be normal. To not be able to do 20 things at once, to have a boring job, to be a little ditzy from time to time.

    And guess what? I do hang out with over-20-year-olds who sing randomly. And what do I do? I sing WITH them.

    Why? Because I happen to be a young adult who likes musicals, and is not afraid to be herself around her friends. And people who think I’m weird? They can go #$%& themselves for all I care. To each their own.

    Women back then wanted role models. Women today want to feel good about being themselves.

  • Sam

    I pretty much love this article. I can’t stand how dumbed down most female protagonists are on mainstream (and otherwise) television. And apart from my pre-existing disdain for Zooey Deschanel–she makes me want to vomit, to be honest–I really cannot stand her roles in most films and television. Aside from her atrocious lack of acting skills, she seems to always choose roles where she’s acting as a moron whose sole purpose is to help a guy figure out his life through wide-eyed looks. At this point in her career, I strongly doubt she has no other options. Even back to the film “Manic” (ha!) ten years ago, her character as a self-injuring girl with PTSD was mostly there to help the protagonists philosophy on life–not to actually go in depth on what any of her conditions meant to her character.

    Anyways, I like this article. I really do.

  • Lizzie

    If you want to see the polar opposite of the Manic Pixue Dream Girl, watch Dead Like Me :D

    • Wow

      Ha I loved that show too!

    • Jeanne

      Good grief do I miss that show.

  • Lexie

    I know there is such a thing as slut shaming, but is there such a thing as quirky shaming? Or pixie shaming?

    I agree, we need strong female characters in movies and television, but I don’t think that just because some of these characters try to enjoy life in a quirky way means that they exist solely for the man.

    And why can’t we be inspirational? Isn’t living life with wonder and joy something we are all supposed to do?

    • Wow

      I agree with you. I call this just women hating on other women. It’s unfortunate we can’t just be happy for the girls success and she didn’t have to show her goodies to get famous, have a sex tape, or be on a stupid reality show….

    • forest/trees

      I don’t think the problem is the quirkiness (as illustrated by K. Hep, who the author approves of and describes as quirky-yet-competent), so much as their lack of skills and fuller character development beyond childlike-and-helpless. Many of my friends (myself included) could probably be described as quirky and/or twee (I try to contain it), but we generally have our shit together.

      The other problem isn’t Zooey D herself, its the dominance of the MPDG over other young women in so many indies and romcoms. It’d be different if movies generally featured more well-rounded/realistic female characters, but they don’t seem interested.

      Female characters are fewer (often just one token girl) and generally get less character development. If there’s only one girl who is supposed to matter to us in a movie, I don’t care if she’s quirky, but she should have motivations of her own apart from pleasing/guiding the main male protagonist.

    • MR

      @forest/trees: Agreed – films where the female characters have an identity and stand out on their own are rare. I mentioned Nicole Kidman’s Virginia Woolf – loved her nose job, yeah not all glamour. Even when her mental illness devoured her, her husband still loved her cause of the memory when she was whole. I’m a guy and believe the MPDG image should be of a relationship as a partnership.

  • Wow

    I love Zoey. Her character is likeable, funny, quirky, cute, and strange. My kind of gal. Oh and my sister bursts out singing all the dang time, yes it’s annoying sometimes, but she has a nice voice so I tolerate it and I do love the gal. Zoey sings good too and I think it’s funny.

    Honestly I am starting to see blogs come and bash the poor girl now that she is getting more popular. It comes with the terrority I guess, but really we should be supporting her. I love how there are more new girl centric shows whereas before it was all male dominated.

    Also I would like to point out that it’s kind of funny that women bloggers are usually the people that start tearing other women down, what a sad sad world we live in.

    Long live New Girls in the world

    • Agreement.

      I completely agree. I love the manic pixie dream girl (‘Penny Lane’, Almost Famous, anyone? Classic.) and it’s sad to see other people tear actors/actresses down as they gain popularity.

    • Wow

      I LOVe Penny Lane :)

  • Gina

    I also like Zoey’s character on the show. She has amazing energy (very positive), as compared to a lot of other females characters on TV and real life. Women seem to be super bitchy these days (in this country) idk why. I don’t put that spin that you seem to put on her character. There ARE people in the world like her. What’s wrong with showing everyone that it’s okay to be yourself. I’m all for TV celebrating all different types of personalities. If everyone on TV was like “perfect” aka the typical American, self-involved bitch. I would stop turning on the TV.

    • Tits McGee

      Yes! I’m not a perky person and can relate way more to Nick’s new girlfriend on the show. I loved seeing her and Zooey face off. When she said “If I dressed like you at my lawfirm noone would take me seriously,” and Zooey responded “If I dressed like you, my students would hand in dark, weird dioramas.” Here’s the thing – you can be smart and girly! You can be smart and bad at some things. I’m really not convinced that Zooey’s character is an idiot. I LOVE that she’s a teacher, becuase it’s the perfect profession for someone with her personality.

  • Lottie

    Pfff, Manic Pixies are such a red herring.

    The problem isn’t the goofdom of the girl. It is with the dullness of the dude. One character cannot drag a passive character/s slumping and slouching (he’s too sensitive to kick and scream, see) through an entire story, without it being contrived, unrealistic and boring.

    So instead of spotting that the usually male protagonist is technically a corpse, we blame the secondary character (the female) for being unrealistic.

    Since when is the secondary character responsible for the incredible naffness of a film? That’s right. Never. Unless she’s a woman… Let’s face it, New Girl should really be called Dull Guy, because that’s whose show it is.

    So let’s place the blame where it really belongs. Dull Guy. He’s dull. He sucks. He expects girls to do the work, then wonders why he gets dumped. The reason why both Hepburns don’t appear to be manics, is because the male characters propel the story on their own.

    • Christina

      Great point!

    • Alex

      No sane person blames the female for anything since, you know, fictional characters are not real and have no will of their own.

      I am honestly baffled at how stupid a person can be and still be able to operate a computer.

  • Dan

    While I can’t say anything about the Hepburn movies because I haven’t seen Holiday and saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s years ago, I think the assessment of Natalie Portman’s character is off. Garden State was a movie about normal people all having dysfunctional lives. Portman and Saarsgard both live with their parents, showing dysfunction can still be surrounded by love. They are characters to teach Braff to get over what happened with his parents and to just live. To call Natalie’s character dumb is just absurd and to say she can’t live on her own because of her epilepsy is nuts. It’s the Garden State, with the highest property taxes and small availability of jobs, especially without a college education. Nobody questioned why she was living with her mom because we’re all living with our parents.
    And then you’re gonna nitpick Zooey’s character on a Fox comedy. Most characters on comedy tv shows do odd things, because they’re comedic characters. Why not go after Eliot Reid on Scrubs, or the characters on Happy Ending? Hell every character on Modern Family is off their wagon, that’s why people love it.
    It’s all a balancing act. While comedies have wacky characters, some women, there are plenty dramas that show the heroism, including some women. Garcia from Criminal Minds is a manic pixie dream girl, and she’s pretty stellar with a computer.

  • MR

    Jennifer, I’m going to flip it. Manic pixie though not a dream girl: Nicole Kidman’s Virginia Woolf: an eccentric who loved her husband, but couldn’t save herself though he did everythng he could.

  • Liana

    I feel like someone should compare Natalie Portman’s precocious 12-yr-old <3 object from Beautiful Girls to her idiotic grown-up <3 object in Garden State. Equally horrifying, I'd say!

  • Fred

    Stop looking to the extreme left without moving your head
    Its very annoying

  • Ellora

    Very interesting article. It was well worth my time to read this. Thank you.

  • Pere

    I loved 500 Days of Summer and Garden State, and used to wish I could pull off being a MPDG (yes I know, you’d probably hate me).

    But your article was very sharp, and it opened up some new insights for me. Now I want to get off my ass and actually finish me some comic books. MPDGs who get shit done = best. Thanks.

  • dayna

    I think the issue with your argument here is that the MPDG is not actually a fully developed character at all, no matter what decade you look at her (and I’ll give it to you that you touch upon the lack of depth there). MPDGs are plot devices to help the woeful male protagonist see and realize the awesomeness of life. So instead of working in a dull bank they can see the world. In that way the issue isn’t with the MPDG it’s with the male protagonist and the usually male writer behind the script. MPDGs aren’t fully developed because they a) don’t need to be and b) would cause a major conflict in the story if they were. If you had this character with human flaws and human ambition then you’d take the focus off of the main (male) character. It’s just a an archetype and it’s just a genre of film. I’d also argue that ZD’s character in New Girl is not an MPDG because her quirkiness is in itself a flaw she has to get over in order to grow up and move on with her life after a breakup (it’s a defense mechanism).

  • the emily

    I’m sorry. It’s television. We won’t be hanging out with Jess from New Girl because she doesn’t exist. I just don’t see the point of your argument. I’ve never in real life met a manic pixie girl because they’re not real. They’re created that way for TV and movies to make us laugh, nothing else.

  • Priskrillex

    I agree completely. While the MPDG can be entertaining, I hate the direction they’ve taken as well. The MPDG is just a trope to satisfy the men in the show while the girl gets jipped. Not only that, but western media (especially American) heavily influences other countries. For example, Korean romance-comedy television shows almost always feature a MPDG who has no handle on her life and acts like a 6-year-old who waddles around like a penguin in an effort to be “cute.” While doing this, she helps get the brooding male to “chipper up”, despite the fact that he thinks little of her and, most of the time, constantly belittles/neglects/verbally abuses her. It makes the woman look like she’s a puppy that belongs to the man. In fact, some dramas even refer to these MPDGs as puppies. In addition to making the guy look smarter, the MPDG also puts themselves in dangerous situations just for the sake of giving the male protagonist his 15 minutes of chivalrous fame. Here are 3 dramas that feature these characters: You’re Beautiful, Goong (Princess Hours), and Full House. It’s horrible and it needs to stop, if not, go back to the way it was. I don’t say if often but, for the MPDG, those WERE the good old days.

  • Kacie

    I disagree; I think a lot of people have characteristics of manic pixie dream girls, including myself: I love to cook, do odd things like walk on my tip toes, laugh and talk out loud to myself, like wearing cute dresses, own overalls,and make weird sounds and noises to my boyfriend. I guess you would say I’m more like Clementine in Eternal Sunshine, “just a messed up girl trying to find my own peace of mind”, but there is nothing wrong with having a positive outlook on life and retaining a child like wonder about the world. My three and four year old are very happy I did, and so is my fiance because my outlook on life does make him happier.

  • kj

    Zooey Deschanel’s character in New Girl is slowly (but surely) making me start to hate Zooey Deschanel. At first I liked her, but she just became far too vapid and unrealistically immature. I hate the fact that her character is that naive. If you’re (the writers/directors) going to make a character do “kooky” things, make her do it because she wants to, make her entirely self aware of what she is doing. I completely loathe how she does things completely unaware and has to be reminded like a 4 year old “we don’t do these things in public” with a wagging finger. She is 27 years old. And on top of that, for her to have lived with her boyfriend (and no doubt slept together) her “I am just a doe eyed adorable likable childlike character far too innocent to understand innuendo” act is getting tiresome. It’s like watching ‘Three Men and a Baby” all over again. -____-

  • Nathalia

    Even though for the life of me I cannot remember a single movie title right now, I am pretty sure there are movies with a reversed pixie dream girl, as in pixie dream boy I guess.
    I guess its usually with career women though, you know, the pulled-together, always serious businessy business woman who spends her evenings alone in front of the TV and feeling sad that she missed out on real life, and then comes the quirky guy who is a surfer or a painter or something and shows her that life is fun, and throwing paint at people is fun and that she wants a kids and family.
    Thinking about it… this also seems to feel like a very anti-grown-up women stance.

    • Nathalia

      10 things I hate about you… hah, found one, throwing paint and all.

    • Nathalia

      Titanic is another one I just thought of today in the shower. He has nothing to better to do than free the girl from the shackles of high society, show her what a “real party” is and in the end he even dies, but only after telling her to enjoy life. Still, I absolutely love that movie.

  • shi.moh

    well.nice.a few points:in all of these characters u can see variant amounts of deviation from normal variation in general population,here normality is concern to normal distribution-curve in behavioral studies(differ from normal and abnormal in routine conversation).then being epileptic or obs. liar can not be permission for what ever we like and want ,we act and other persons have not right, but the last and very very important point based on my experience is: if someone introduce her/himself to you honestly in first session of deciding for marriage or long time relationship and clearly is differ from your opinion but you say ,oh so amazing so delicious compatible we are , im too, thanks God !!!(exactly) and introduce yourself like him/her,in your country, in your culture ,in your general population (with respect to humans from all of the world) what is the name of this behavior???.problem is here only not else where. be yourself and faithful in answering.thanks , kiss you , bye