Bad Boys vs. Decent Fellows
Being a professional writer provides lots of excuses for unconventional behavior, like checking out men almost twenty years younger. Not that I'm a perv or anything. Just that, had I been more active in high school, I might be old enough to be John Krasinski's mother. And, trust me, John's a hunk. A new kind of hunk for a new kind of woman. Too bad I'm forty three, is all I have to say.
(Listen, I could have written about the horrifying advent of skinny jeans that, like shoulder pads and Dorothy Hamel hair, will be the subject of ridicule in a decade. Just be glad I'm sticking to hunks, who are, oh yes, always in style.)
John plays the leading romantic hero, for lack of a better word, on The Office, my new most favorite show. His character, Jim, is an under-challenged paper salesman in Scranton (God bless these writers) who works in a horrible office in an even more horrible Scranton office park. The writing is superb. The humor top notch and the show won an Emmy.
To me, what's most surprising about The Office is the popularity of its star-crossed lovers - Jim and Pam, the frustrated receptionist. There's also Roy, Pam's boyfriend who works in the warehouse, and a twist - a twist that all of us who write romance should sit up and take notice.
There is no bad boy. There is no Rhett to tempt Scarlett from Ashley. (And let me just say this about Ashley - blech). There is no Ranger to wrest Stephanie from Morelli. (I stopped reading at Four to Score, so tell me if I'm off base here.) No Paris to threaten Romeo and his Juliet.
Instead there's Roy, a poor schlub with a DUI in his background who's trying to win back Pam, and Jim, a somewhat spineless (no letters, please) guy who's really nice and sometimes fun. This resonates with me. I know guys like this. I dated guys like this. Jim is real and that's what makes the writing on this show compelling. I swear, I have a crush. I love decent fellows.
Personally, I've never been attracted to bad boys. Not ever. A guy on a motorcycle who just ripped off a convenience store and was bent on breaking the land speed record down Highway 66 was a guy I hoped didn't have my home number. Men who throw fists, who keep cigarettes behind their ears and are misunderstood, need to grow up. Give me a guy who takes out the trash any day.
I don't mean a tight ass. I mean, a man who can crack a smart joke and shrug off the boss but who never shows up late for work. A guy who keeps his focus on the larger picture, who refrains from chewing out the waitress, a man who pays his bills, doesn't overspend, and who appreciates a fine woman because she, too, is decent. (Also, being really tall with a great smile doesn't hurt either.)
Here's my theory why this new generation of women is attracted to Jim the paper salesman and, I suspect, other characters like him. (Aside from the indisputable fact that John's cute.) Young women don't need a bad boy to feel alive. They're being bad themselves (Girls Gone Wild) and the guys they know are bad, too (Boys Gone Wild). Enough already with the bad. What's attractive is what they don't have- a man like Jim. They crave restraint, politeness, decorum, love (not lust), and most of all, decency. Plus, a bit of subtle subversion.
And let me add something, too. Part of the fun for women who love decent men is discovering that underneath that upstanding exterior is a hot hunk with slow hands and other neat stuff that can make the world spin on its axis.