The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Complex And What It Means For Modern Women

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Complex And What It Means For Modern Women

Breaking down a popular stock character.

The Film Industry is full of timeless stock characters. From the “tragic hero” to the “village idiot” we are exposed to these cinematic archetypes from our first trip to the box office. In recent years, however, a new character has been brought to light: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Film critic Nathan Rabin defines the Manic Pixie Dream Girl as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

Basically, a somewhat quirky female character that is responsible for helping a male character see the beauty in life. (See Summer in "500 Days of Summer," Penny Lane in "Almost Famous," etc.) Now, this description may seem innocent enough; however, if we break it down, we can analyze some rather problematic implications.

The notion that certain female characters are designed specifically to propel a male figure’s story-line forward is a concept as old as the art of film itself (see Katherine Hepburn in "Bringing Up Baby," etc.)

The issue with this archetype is that it primes audience members to see women’s talents and personal choices as disposable and secondhand in nature. It inspires the idea that women are simply tools needed to propel the patriarchy and help men lead better lives.


A specific example of the patriarchal driven development of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl can be seen in the genre-transcending 2009 film "500 Days of Summer." In this film, we see the male protagonist, Tom, fall in love with the female lead, Summer. Summer warns Tom that she doesn’t believe in love and that she views it as a fairy-tale-like notion. Still, we see Tom fall in love and develop his own tainted views towards the prospect of relationships. With the cinematic help of Tom’s drastic character development and lengthy internal monologues, we as audience members are blindly predisposed to see Summer as a horrible human being that crushes Tom’s heart and ruins his view of love. This is due to the fact that the film itself is presented solely from the male perspective. Upon further analysis of the film, however, we can easily see that Summer isn’t actually so evil. In fact, she was quite up front with her views towards love and constantly communicated her intentions with Tom throughout the bulk of the film. However, the issue is that because she was presented in classic MPDG fashion, many audience members formed opinions on the character at face value. They left the theater viewing Summer solely as a tool to help Tom learn to embrace life and its hidden beauty.

Another drastic flaw with the concept of the MPDG is that often the character is created FROM a male perspective FOR a male perspective. The archetype is commonly written in a shallow/aesthetic based manner. Traditionally, feminine imagery is used to create an aura of romanticism to help develop a character that’s true internal conflict never sees the light of day. In fact, often we are never even given the chance to view the MPDG’s true internal monologue and perspective. Instead, we are only introduced to this character through the eyes of the male protagonist. This implies that the woman is simply a concept rather than an individual

(Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Luckily with more attention being brought to this problematic archetype, women in the industry are taking a stand against it. Zoe Kazan’s film "Ruby Sparks" presents an interesting take on the MPDG concept. The film details the struggles of a writer, Paul Dano, who has essentially created a woman based solely on his fevered imagination. Towards the beginning of the film, this magical adventure is seen as romantic and positive; however, as the story continues we see some downfalls as the male character discovers the very traumatic dangers of treating individuals as concepts/objects rather than real people.

Films like "Ruby Sparks" are important because they bring light to the big issue here: the implication that women can exist solely in the imaginations of men without regard for their own thoughts and passions. This concept is objectifying in nature. Not only does it silence the female voice, but it predisposes male youth to believe that their perspective is more dominant within society and therefore more important.

So, with all that being said, next time you are at the theater and find yourself being exposed to a brooding male protagonist who comes across a superficially developed female counterpart ask yourself this: is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl just an innocent stock character? Or is this dreamy archetype priming today’s society to view women as concepts rather than individuals?

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11 Binge-worthy Shows on Netflix for a Date With Your Bed

On these cold winter nights what sounds better than being in bed?

Everyone knows what it is like when the weekend rolls around and you are so excited to do something fun. Everyone also knows how easily this feeling can be ruined when you look at your phone and see that the temperature is going nowhere above freezing all weekend. I'm sure most people can agree at this point that they just throw in the towel and plan a hot date with Netflix in bed. On days when the weather is just not enjoyable, these are some awesome binge-worthy shows that cover all genres

1. The Office

This show is great for random and nonsense humor and since they are only 20-minute episodes, you could easily go through a season in a day!

2. Grey's Anatomy

This show is filled with drama, humor, love, loss...pretty much anything you can think of. If you want to cry tears of laughter and sadness, start Grey's. Not to mention McDreamy will forever be the love of your life...

3. Law and Order: SVU

If you want to see a boss lady solve some crime and take down all the bad people in NYC, this show is for you. Mariska Hargitay is such a girl boss that you have to keep watching...all 19 seasons worth! Bonus points for you once you memorize the opening dialogue!

4. Jane the Virgin

Wow, this show is everything! If you want all of the drama and scandal that comes from a true Telenovela, look no further! Jane is the cutest and Rafel is also quite nice to look at as well!

5. Gossip Girl

This show does such a good job at making you wish that you grew up these characters on the upper east side as well! The real question is, when will Serena ever learn her lesson?

6. Master of None

Aziz Ansari. Enough said.

7. Friends From College

This show brings together a bunch of your favorite actors and actresses all for one hilarious comedy. My only complaint is that there is only one season!

8. Cosmos

Now if you actually want to learn something and not just rot your brain completely, cosmos has some pretty interesting fact about the universe we live in!

9. Orange is the New Black

While this show can be a little more mature than others, OITNB brings together such an amazing cast of girls for this dramedy.

10. American Horror Story

This show can be quite graphic and I do question the writers sometimes as well, I am beyond hooked on this show. With new storylines each season, you turn into a true detective when trying to see how they all tie in together in no time.

11. Big Mouth

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30 Music Artists Who Deserve More Appreciation In 2018

You have to stop sleeping on these.

One of my resolutions every year is to discover new music. I'm constantly being introduced to new songs and artists, but in 2017 I started to feel like a lot of my old favorites were absolutely killing it and no one was paying attention, so I compiled a list of underappreciated artists who have improved my life a million times over that everyone needs to stop sleeping on, plus a bunch of reccomendations from my Odyssey friends that I'm going to be jamming to all year long.

All the artists I've included fall outside of Spotify's top artists, so they're definitely underappreciated.

1. Jacob Whitesides

2. Greyson Chance

3. Bea Miller

4. Jake Miller

5. 7 Minutes in Heaven

6. Billie Eilish

7. James TW

8. Dodie

9. City and Color

10. Alexander Jean

11. Two Door Cinema Club

12. Anthem Lights

13. Glass Animals

14. The Head and the Heart

15. Colony House

16. Odessa

17. Skylar Grey

18. Wrabel

19. MUNA

20. Ella Mai

21. EDEN

22. Nahko

23. Within Temptation

24. Meg Myers

25. Lacey Sturm

26. Grizfolk

27. Cimorelli

28. The Ready Set

29. Dylan Holland

30. Spencer Sutherland

All of these artists, some new to me, and some old, totally blew me away with the songs I have posted above. Almost all of them have plans for new music in 2018, so get ready and pay attention. You never know which one of these will be this year's break out artist (and a well-deserving one at that.)

Cover Image Credit: Youtube

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