Defining Characteristics Of The Manic Pixie Dream Girl

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The Manic Pixie Problem

Picture this - a brooding, angsty male character with a cynical world view falls in love with an unconventional, wild-hearted girl with multiple strange quirks who brightens up his life like the sun. If this sounds in any way familiar, it’s because these are the defining characteristics of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a stock character trope which plagues us across media, in television (e.g. the eponymous Mother in How I Met Your Mother), in film (Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s) , in literature (Leslie in Bridge to Terabithia), and even in music (The Whole of the Moon by The Waterboys and Ruby Tuesday by The Rolling Stones). This trope deserves to be wiped out, mostly because it’s heavily misogynist, but also because it is, frankly, annoying.

By definition, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s character arc will focus entirely on a male character, furthering or entirely causing his character development without having any of her own. Common themes on this are “bringing him out of his shell” or teaching him to see life in a different way. This plot line will most likely end in 2 different ways: ending up in a relationship with the male character or dying. As a result, it perpetuates the myth that women’s lives are only about men and their relationships with men, romantic or otherwise. Additionally, men’s self-improvement and personal growth is absolutely not women’s job to cause, and especially not at the expense of their own. Sweet, lovable women like the Manic Pixie Dream Girl deserve better than this. As said by Hugo Schwyzer in his article for The Atlantic, ‘The Real-World Consequences of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Cliché’; “We need women who are lead characters, but that's only part of the equation: we deserve to see men who love these women for the complicated, messy, decidedly non-ethereal people they are.”

The male equivalent of this trope is rare, and is almost never the same as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The difference is that a “Manic Pixie Dream Boy” is usually young or immature, and while they are usually love interests as well, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is usually a grown woman. Examples of Manic Pixie Dream Boys

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