Revenge of the Good Boy Woobies: Matt Donovan, Dean Forester and Dawson Leery

It is coming! The Good Boy Woobie is coming! Save yourselves!

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So, a single-celled organism crawled out of the primordial ooze, and that pretty much led to a little something I like to call Good Boy Woobies or GBWs for short.

What are these GBWs you speak of, you ask? This character trope doesn’t even exist!

Well, actually, my friends, GBWs have been living among us for some time now, quietly infecting our TV screens ever since the dark day that Dawson Leery’s forehead entered the teen drama landscape.

Crying!Dawson, you call to me with a siren song all these years later!

Dawson has been joined in the GBW ranks by Dean Forester from Gilmore Girls and Matt Donovan from Vampire Diaries, characters who you are often bashed over the head by writers with the message, “Like them, like them, like them! They are so kewl! Feel sorry for them and their manpain and mangst”, but may have left you with the nagging suspicion that, actually you kinda loathe them with a fiery passion or are occasionally overwhelmed by the sheer extent of their douchiness.

TV characters and ships, particularly when it comes to supernatural dramas where lives are constantly at stake, are all about the survival of the fittest.

Certain character tropes tend to be the most appealing to audiences…

…and these characters are the ones that usually get The Girl at the end, evade death, avoid getting shipped of to Siberia or Pittsburg (whichever the writers deem worse) or in the very least are killed mid-heroic act.

Woobies garner a lot of audience sympathy. TVTropes.com says that woobies (named for a children’s security blanket) are characters that “you want to give a big hug, wrap in a blanket and feed soup to when he or she suffers so very beautifully”.

Typically, the most popular woobies have been Bad Boy Woobies. These snarky, sexy boys suffer exquisitely for us week in week out, and in return we drop our panties for them.

Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries, and my personal favourite Logan Echolls from Veronica Mars are all bad boys with soft sides/underbellies that have been/are in the process of being woobified in their series. Woobification usually comes hand in hand with a redemption arc. It’s angsty, it’s hot, and it’s no wonder BBWs get our fangirly senses pinging in more ways than one.

My blogger friend 12_12_12   summed up some of the hallmarks of BBWs and BBW ships in an incredibly interesting livejournal entry about Tyler/Caroline on TVD and gender issues. I’ll paraphrase her points but I’ve included direct quotes as well in bold because she explained a lot of this way better than I ever could.

BBWs can be among the most compelling characters, but writers always walk a tightrope with them. Executing their redemption arc is incredibly difficult to pull off effectively, and opinions always vary wildly for popular characters about whether this has been achieved or not. It’s also up to you to decide whether or not these woobies have fallen victim to some of the potential pitfalls of being a BBW.

BBW hallmarks/potential pitfalls:

An important aspect of the woobie is that their suffering has genesis in external sources, and the internal impacts of external sources. We often develop a strangely deep emotional connection with these characters because a hurt/comfort dynamic emerges, whereby the more a woobie is tortured the more we love them, because we can wish away their pain, which is strangely cathartic for us, the viewer.

Writing often absolves BBWs of some or all responsibility for their actions. Reasons might include: “His mommy/daddy never loved him!” “He just needs someone who understands him!” “It’s that psycho bitch of an ex-girlfriend who messed with his head!” “He’s just afraid of feelings!” “He’s had such a hard life!” And my favorite: “He has low self-esteem!” This pitfall can be avoided/minimised if the woobie takes responsibility for their actions (e.g. Damon telling Stefan that Stefan can’t take his guilt, he “owns” it and his actions). 

The biggest problem with any ship involving a BBW is that it could turn into an example of the “Any jerk can be redeemed by the love of a good woman” trope. (as opposed to redemption coming from within).

Redemption through the love of a woman is problematic because it can lead to a Madonna-Whore complex, in which the Woobie elevates his One True Love above all other women, and the writers try to emphasize how much he loves her by having him treat other women badly. It feeds into the fantasy of, “Wow, if this jerk is nice to ME, then I must really be something!” while it’s somehow less exciting if a good guy is nice to you, because he’s nice to everybody. But that means that the appeal of a BBW ship is at least partially BASED on misogyny. It can lead to male characters making value judgments about which women are “worth it” and which are not, rather than allowing the women to just be.

Suddenly though, there has been a shift in typical Bad Boy versus Good Boy dynamics. It isn’t just the Bad Boys who are being woobified any longer. Now it is happening with Good Boys too.

Shocking, I know.

On my favourite show, The Vampire Diaries, this has been evident in the pairing of best friends Tyler Lockwood and Matt Donovan (though the best friends part has diminished somewhat of late).

Tyler has all the hallmarks of a Bad Boy Woobie (poor little rich boy, abusive father, artistic leanings he tries to keep under wraps that demonstrate hidden sensitivity) yet, in terms of how he is written, and – most importantly – fan reaction, he’s not a woobie, his best friend and Good Boy Matt Donovan is. As 12_12_12   noted in a PM to me, “It’s like Tyler got the Woobie Resume but Matt went on to have the Woobie Career”.

Tyler was a distinctly unlikeable character until late season two…

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Knight in shining armour he was not.

… (circumstances have forced him to grow up dramatically in a short space of time), and unlike virtually every other non-Big Bad male character, has actually been called out for it. Women are often judged on The Vampire Diaries: Bonnie is “judgy”, Katherine is a “slut” and “skank”, Caroline is “neurotic” and a “control freak”. Tyler is really the only male character to be labelled so bluntly (“tool”, “dick”). (Jeremy was called a “pill pusher” by Tyler in early season one, but the name had less impact than if given this assessment by a character like Elena, rather than Tyler, who wasn’t really fully respected or taken seriously by anyone. Plus, “dick” and “tool” are subjective assessments of someone’s persnality, whereas “pill pusher” was just a statement of fact about behaviour that Jeremy was engaged in at the time).

Any Spidey readers knows I adore the character of Damon Salvatore. But, if we’re brutally honest, fandom is much quicker to forgive Damon for comparatively more heinous acts than those committed by Tyler.

So why does Damon earn forgiveness more easily than Tyler? Simple. Because Damon is a BBW (a well acted and well executed one IMO), but Tyler, while a Bad Boy, is not a BBW. And I am not immune to this, as I’ll explain in more detail below.

Now, it would be easy enough to say that Damon fulfils the BBW quotient for the show, and this is why the writers haven’t gone there with Tyler. But I noticed something interesting in terms of the reaction to Matt Donovan, the Good Boy foil to Tyler’s Bad Boy – the writers and Matt’s fans are totally woobifying him!

Take linchpin fan forum Television Without Pity, for instance. Matt has been given the nickname Pudding Pop by the TWoP recapper for Vampire Diaries, with “take him home and feed him pudding” as his character thread tagline.

For all the shitty things that have happened to Matt’s friends and ex-girlfriends, like suffering through hours of torture because you are transforming into a werewolf or being vamped before you’re legal, I would say that if the show harps on about the hardships anyone has suffered the most, it would be Matt. (I mean this in terms of Telling, as opposed to just Showing). Equally, many fans defending Matt’s douchey moments fall back on the excuse that he has had a hard life, what else do you expect?

Matt’s speech in episode 2×21, whereby he dumps vampire girlfriend Caroline, is a good example of this. After discovering the truth about Caro being a vamp, Matt has seen how becoming a supe has caused her normal life to spiral out of control. He even contributed to the suckiness of her lot in life by conspiring against her briefly with her vamp-hating sheriff mother Liz.

Yet even though he acknowledges that Caroline’s personality and spirit remain intact despite her being a vampire, not once does he apologise to her for his actions, attempt to make amends or ask how she is coping with everything (contrast to Tyler and Caroline, who are always interested in the welfare of the other now, regardless of the state of their relationship).

In fact, he breaks up with a speech designed to Tell us how hard his life is, and how he can’t handle her supernatural baggage on top of everything else.


This was pretty much me, looking at my watch wondering when this little spiel would be over and done with and we got back to Forwood.
Caroline: But you can [handle being with me even though I’m a vampire]. Matt…

Matt: I don’t know if I can, Caroline.

Caroline: Matt!

Matt: I get it. This is your life now. You know what my life is, Care? My life is an absentee mom. And a bunch of bills to pay, and school, and a job, and it sucks sometimes. But it’s my life, and… I think that I just want to live it without all of this.

Dawson suffered in his own way too (broken family from his parents divorcing, being treated like crap in film class and getting poor reviews for a film he screened at a festival etc), as did Dean (though mainly in terms of how much Rory played with his poor heart, I have to admit – of all the GBWs he is the one I feel most sympathy for).

Anyway, there are some facts I just tend to take for granted about The Vampire Diaries.

Like Elijah has fabulous hair.

Or Damon is an awesome dancer. The douchery of Matt, despite being at odds with the golden boy persona he holds in the writers’ and other characters’ perception is simply another.

My antipathy for this character and his relationship with Caroline in particular has grown since mid season one – I have hated his character development from the first few episodes onwards, and it has been like watching a slow train wreck of douchiness ever since for me. No matter how hard I have tried, I simply can’t understand how Matt can be viewed as the honest-to-goodness Good Boy that some members of fandom have passionately argued he is. (This is probably because most of his screentime has been sucked up by his relationship with Caro, and ships are where GBWs’ worst colours are evident).

Many don’t see the passive-aggressive emotional manipulation and general mindfuckery that, for me, typifies his relationship with Caroline. Some have bashed CAROLINE, who has made every effort to be The Girl for Matt, for being the reason Matt/Caroline didn’t work out.

I just for the life of me have been unable to see how anyone could believe Matt and Caroline are healthy for each other, particularly when there is an IMO infinitely hotter and more compatible option (TYLER!), despite much associated angst, waiting in the wings.

But then it hit me: Matt is a Good Boy Woobie!

He and the Dean Foresters and Dawson Leerys of this world are a brand of character the writers tell me are Good and that I should want to succeed because of their “plight” (broken home, girlfriend who takes them for granted etc). Yet somehow it is the Bad Boy foils to these Good Boy Woobies – Tyler Lockwood, Pacey Witter (Dawson’s Creek), and Jess Mariano (Gilmore Girls) who are the ones who have/had my sympathy and are the boys I ship my favourite girls with.

On paper, these boys sound like textbook BBWs, but IMO, don’t quite fit the bill, because they aren’t absolved of their wrongdoings in the way woobies typically are by writers – this may be a controversial opinion, but I think that in one way or another, the writing calls out Jess, Tyler and Pacey more harshly than ordinary BBWs for their shortcomings. This might be through self-awareness (Tyler: “I’m an angry guy”) or dialogue from other characters.

Going back to the example of Damon vs Tyler – I love both characters, but interestingly had a more viscerally angry reaction to Tyler hesitating to help Caroline when she faced death as opposed to Damon snapping Jeremy’s neck.

I couldn’t really work out why, aside from Ian Somerhalder’s hypnotic blue eyes. Yet, Tyler is my absolute favourite character, so you’d think if I was going to cut anyone slack immediately, it would be him.

When I looked deeper and discussed this stuff with other members of fandom, I realised it’s all in the writing. The writing is much more sympathic towards Damon, yet to forgive Tyler I usually have to do the heavy lifting – the writers leave it up to us to make the decision whether or not to bother caring for/deciding to forgive Tyler, and frankly I can understand how people can hate Tyler. He doesn’t have a heart of gold, more just a softer side that comes out occasionally, but his recent experiences as a werewolf and with Caroline is becoming more prominent.

When Damon snapped Jeremy’s neck in the season two premiere, this action was surrounded by writer explanation (“it’s because of Katherine” “he’s unstable when she [Katherine] is around”, “he wants to be hated, it’s easier that way”).

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In contrast, when Tyler hesitated in a crucial moment where Caro’s life was in peril, she lambasted him and slammed a door in his face. Even when Caro forgave him, there was no explanation for the action – Caroline basically said “yep, you screwed up but I don’t hate you despite this” and forgave out of the goodness of her heart, and it was entirely left up to us to make the decision whether to follow suit. Given Damon is a leading character and Tyler is a secondary character, I’m not surprised that there is a little more guidance from the writers on how they want Damon to be viewed and more encouragement to support his redemption, whereas with judgments about Tyler you are pretty much on your own. I’m curious to see if this changes next season with the growing popularity of the Tyler character.

So writers are starting to encourage us to forgive Good Boys like Matt their more douchey moments too. These Good Boy Woobies usually have straight Bad Boys, not BBWs as a foil (e.g. Tyler is Matt’s best friend) – both because the Bad Boy is intended to make the Good Boy look even more Good in comparison, and because we immediately know the Bad Boy can’t be that Bad deep down if he hands out with the Good Boy.

Of course, writers often don’t anticipate a backlash from people like me, who not only tend not to be sympathetic to Good Boy Woobies, but outright LOATHE them, and are on Team Bad Boy. This post will go along way towards explaining why Dawson, Dean, but especially Matty annoy the freaking hell out of me. It’ll also help explain why I think pairings like Tyler/Caroline are > > > pairings like Matt/Caroline, and so is part of the Great Forwood vs Caratt debate on this blog.

So, let’s take a closer look at this new breed of TV character. What is a Good Boy Woobie? What makes them tick? How do they differ from Bad Boy Woobies? How do their interactions with love interests compare to Bad Boy Woobies?

Good Boy Woobies: in writers’ minds versus the reality of how they appear

(this is modelled after 12_12_12’s summary of Matt)

In Writers’ Minds:

Matt, Dean, Dawson:

A basically decent, stand-up guy who is there for his friends and can be trusted even by adults. This is the type of guy you can bring home to meet the parents, or you might have actually grown up with. They are a dependable, high school sweetheart type. They might not necessarily get your heart racing like Bad Boys in your life, but you can always rely on them to follow through. In supernatural shows, they often represent the innocent human element who remind us of what the good guys are fighting to protect.

The Reality:

These Good Boy Woobies are often self-righteous and judgmental, and tend to blame anyone but themselves for their problems. They are prone to self-pity and self-centredness, and see other people’s problems in relation to how they affect them. GBWs are often skilled manipulators or in the very least emotionally manipulative/passive-aggressive, and if they are dating someone who they see as beneath them are not above using them as an emotional punching bag. They are also prone to extreme jealousy and possessiveness, and may view love interests as property that belongs to them and can be “stolen” from them, even if they are not currently dating the girl of interest.

How this plays out more specifically…

12_12_12   and I discussed via email how one thing is distinctively different between BBWs and GBWs when it comes to their love interests. For BBWs there is only ever one love interest, only one Girl. GBWs have both The Girl and Another Girl AKA The Placeholder.

As I mentioned earlier, a Madonna-Whore complex plagues a lot of BBW ships, whereby the BBW elevates one woman above all others, and his love for her is underscored by how badly he treats other women in comparison to her. (This can become more complicated in supernatural dramas if the BBW is a monster like a vampire, and he doesn’t consider humans and vampires as being on the same playing field, and other humans might simply be food to him).

In contrast, GBWs Dean, Matt and Dawson have The Girl (the Madonna of the Madonna-Whore complex: Rory, Elena and Joey) and Another Girl aka The Placeholder that they often treat badly after an initial sweet honeymoon period, because The Placeholder doesn’t live up to the standards of The Girl (Dean’s first wife, Caroline, Jen once Dawson discovered she wasn’t a perfect virginal angel). It’s a reverse Madonna-Whore complex where The Placeholder is treated like dirt while the GBW is an all-around nice guy to pretty much everyone else (except enemies).

GBWs are presented as being hopelessly in love with The Girl and hung up on her well after they have broken up, and treating The Placeholder like dirt or as less special. Ironically, The Girl can often take or leave the affections of the GBW, but The Placeholder, who is usually genuinely in love with him, is also the person he tends to take his frustrations out on. I guess it’s because The Placeholder is willing to put up with their crap, whereas The Girl (usually the leading lady) would not be.

Examples:

Matt:

Caroline has infamously been treated as second best to leading lady Elena Gilbert. Even after Elena broke up with Matt he told her sweetly, “I just want you to know, I’m not giving up on us”. Caro/Matt hook up in season one only after Caro got fed up with Matt digging in his heels about taking their budding friendship to the next level and he realised he was going to lose her. His very romantic assessment following their first kiss? “This’ll never work” he says to Care.

His reason for dating Caro at all is likely out of sheer loneliness (it was telling that in early season two he says to avoid breaking up with her “I’m not in a position to lose anyone else right now”), rather than because he is enamored of her like he was with Elena.

Matt considers breaking up with Caro in season one (when less lonely because Tyler is still more in the picture) after she has the audacity to take his hand in public in front of Damon and Elena when they first start going out; this little territorial gesture hardly warranted the degree of annoyance it was met with. Matt also does things like ducking out of kisses Caro tries to initiate in school hallways when Elena is in close proximity. At the first sign Elena might want to get back together (e.g. when Elena is sniffing around at the careers fair in season one because she thinks Stefan is leaving), Matt drops his burgeoning relationship with Caro in a heartbeat.

When Matt discovered his sister Vicki was dead, he turned to Elena rather than Caro for support, which was understandable due to his lifelong friendship with Elena but still broken an unwritten relationship rule. On an ill-fated first double date between Stefan/Elena and Caroline/Matt, Elena and Matt reminisce arguably a little inappropriately about their couple days and are oblivious to how this badly this might make Caro feel until she calls them on it (in the case of Elena)/inappropriateness becomes blatant (in the case of Matt). Caroline was determined to win Miss Mystic Falls because it symbolised a victory over Elena for once. Matt bitched about Caroline’s neurotic personality to friends like Bonnie and Tyler, but never once heard says a mean thing about Elena. I am curious to see if there is any fallout between the Matt/Elena relationship next season, in terms of her role, however small, she played in Vicki’s death.

Dean:

Dean was established in the first two and a quarter seasons as being head over heels in love with Rory, to the point of being controlling and obsessively texting her when he was worried that she might dump him for new Bad Boy Jess, a fear that turns out to be founded.

Dean proposed to first wife Lindsay when they are still young and speaks fondly of her in their initial coupledom stages, acknowledging her sweet, generous personality. On Dean’s bachelor night, however, he drunkenly admitted to local diner owner Luke that he is still in love with Rory and doesn’t know why she didn’t love him back. He pursued Rory even after marrying Lindsay, and Rory lost her virginity by committing adultery with Dean. Rory justified this by saying Dean is “her Dean”, even though her mother Lorelai aptly argues that actually, he is “Lindsay’s Dean” – but the writing supported Rory’s assessment. Dean treated his wife progressively worse, to the point that an episode was devoted to Lindsay walking on eggshells and going all out to prepare his favourite roast in a desperate bid to please him and save her marriage. Lindsay and Dean were fighting before Rory/Dean slept together, but his perceived view of Lindsay’s shortcomings compared with Rory after committing adultery worsens. This leads to him treating Lindsay more and more like dirt, until Lindsay suddenly find outs about his adultery with Rory by accidentally intercepting a letter from Rory to Dean and divorces him.

Dawson:

Dawson had relatively sweet relationships with Gretchen Witter in season four and Jen Lindley in season five, but always ultimately ended up pining away for Joey. Although Joey found true love with Pacey by the end of the series and is off the market once and for all, Dawson is alone – and exec produces a TV series that is The Story of Joey and Dawson and amounts to him vicariously re-living his relationship with Joey. When Dawson sleeps with Joey for the first time, he does so despite having an LA actress girlfriend at the time. In season two, when Dawson and Joey break up and eventually he starts dating Jen, Jen bonds with new Creekster Jack McPhee (who is dating Joey at the time) by telling him he’ll get used to being treated like second best by his girlfriend, because she has with Dawson.

With GBWs, there is a reversal of the “reforming the guy through love” trope – it becomes “making myself worthy of the guy”. 

The halo of the GBW means that The Placeholder and sometimes even The Girl feel like their personality or issues are the source of any problems between them. So rather than going for a guy who clearly accepts them exactly as they are (Tyler! Pacey! Jess!) and isn’t ridiculously territorial/possessive/controlling of them, this girl will persist on making the relationship work and fit the romantic ideal they think it represents, even when it’s obvious it is falling apart – they think they’ll be losing a Great Guy and stable relationship otherwise.

The general message from the writers is that the GBW is a Nice Guy, ergo anything nasty or controlling he says or does must be justified. Even worse, The Placeholder and occasionally The Girl have value judgments placed on them with respect to the GBW – she might be viewed as “asking for it” or “deserving” of bad treatment by the poor, downtrodden GBW who has to put up with her crap. (it must be said this last part drives me up the wall with Matt/Caro in particular, where her neurotic qualities, whether through her natural quirky personality or going through the kinks of being a baby vamp made it okay for Matt to be a jerk towards her in some fans’ eyes. Sorry guys, but UGH!)

The Placeholder/The Girl pretty much NEVER breaks up with a GBW. Either the GBW breaks up with them, often to sort out his own issues, or the girl only breaks up with them if their douchery builds to a point that cannot be ignored.

(see Bill Compton from True Blood, a Good Boy Woobie in seasons one and two – blogger pal Amy wrote a great post blasting him that shows how annoying these characters often end up being). As a vampire his darker side is prominent from day one, but essentially is set up in the first few seasons as a goody-two-shoes, fuddy-duddy, geeky type compared to the rest of his kind. Indeed, we discover that he is turned into a vampire as a result of his inherent goodness; as a civil war soldier taken in by a woman Lorena, he refuses to sleep with her because he has a wife, and she vamps him because she has been waiting for a decent man like him.

The Girl in True Blood, Sookie Stackhouse after it comes to light that he orchestrated her being almost beaten to death so she would be forced to drink his vampire blood to survive – he did this because ingesting V directly makes you sexually attracted to the vampire, and he was ingratiating himself into her life as part of a larger plan.

Fortunately, the actor playing Bill, Stephen Moyer, is like the anti-Bill and has certain, um, physical charms…

… so it’s not like he doesn’t have ANY redeeming qualities. Head to Amy’s blog to see just how many redeeming qualities he has! Also, don’t miss blogger pal Julie’s awesome True Blood recaps now that True Blood is off and running, so we call all come together in a safe place with our Bill hatred)

Even if the GBW is the one who dumps The Girl/The Placeholder, he tends to view them like property that can be “stolen” and he will seek to reclaim if his hold over the girl is threatened.

Examples

Matt

Not quite Crying!Dawson, but this is what I call teetering on the edge of a 5000 km high cliff with a sheer drop, with one foot dangling over the side. Your mileage might vary.

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Caroline’s relationship with Matt has pretty much been predicated on her not being worthy of Matt. Matt has ALWAYS treated Elena with unequivocal, no-holds-barred respect, even after she broke up with him. In contrast, even when dating Caroline he has tended to insult her to her face or behind her back, or even when complimenting her done so in a backhanded way.

You’re a lot of things, Caroline, but you’re not a liar.”

“I came to see if today’s basket-case period had expired.” (based on Caroline’s erratic behaviour just after being released from hospital – admittedly it is because she has just become a baby vamp, but he should have cut her slack regardless based on what he knew).

“Tonight, even though I wanted to throttle you, I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Tyler: “All that talk about how you like her, and you’ve gone off her already?”

Matt: “Yeah, she seems kind of clingy.”

(this was because of her slightly territorial hand grab. Geez, how dare she do such an awful thing!)

Matt, to Tyler: “Look, I like Caroline. She’s got this thing, this way about her, and I like her. And I’m not going to defend it, or apologise about it.”

(the implication being that in order to like Caroline there must be something to apologise for).

Caroline’s friends have always treated her like a second class citizen too until recently, when the writers wised up to her awesomeness. For example, Bonnie said to Elena, “Caroline deserves a nice guy like him [Matt]”, but never once does anyone express the viewpoint that Matt is equally lucky to have Caro.

This treatment of Caro was apparently fine because she was “neurotic” and “insecure” and damned with faint praise and a poor appraisal by the writing and other characters in general – so therefore Caro was “asking for it”. The value judgment for the majority of the show has been that Matt deserves a ribbon for putting up with Caro, rather than that he should thank his lucky stars for having her. Thankfully, as her character grows more confident with her vampire transition, writing for Caro is changing for the better.

Caro is yet to be the one to dump Matt other than provoking him into dumping her when she was first vamped, for the sake of his safety. She stayed with him in season one even when he treated her like The Placeholder to Elena blatantly. After discovering that he conspired with her sheriff mother when they discovered she was a vamp, she doesn’t even get angry with him, in fact, he dumps HER as mentioned before, because he can’t handle her supernatural baggage! This comes after him dumping her earlier in the season over her perceived jealously issues – and they only got back together IMO because Matt felt territorial when he could see Tyler and Caro growing closer.

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Dean

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that Jared Padalecki, who plays Dean, is a drop dead gorgeous honey of a man. Heck, I thought Dean was the Perfect Boyfriend the first time I watched the various seasons of Gilmore Girls that he was in. Subsequent re-watchings have changed my mind quite dramatically about him. My main beef is how we are continually beat over the head with how he is the Perfect Boyfriend (especially in contrast to Jess), but his flaws of being prone to extreme jealousy and possessiveness of Rory/quick to anger and overreaction are barely acknowledged.

Dean is presented as reliable and dependable, and the ultimate first boyfriend a girl could have. He worships the ground Rory walks on, calls when he says he will, never pressures Rory to move faster into the physical realm of her relationship than she is comfortable with, and even builds her a car from scratch! All good things, but he takes his protectiveness and love of her too far.

He breaks up with Rory in season one for the first time when she can’t reciprocate his “I love you”…

He doesn’t give her any extra time to be able to return a sentiment she clearly wants to mean when she says it for the first time. Interestingly, they only get back together AFTER Rory finally tells him she loves him later down the track. At a school dance, Dean threatens to “kill” Tristan DuGray, who has a thing for Rory and is acting as an ass because of this towards the pair. Overreaction much? When Jess outbids Dean at a charity auction to spend an afternoon with Rory, Dean acts as though Rory is cheating on him even though she had nothing to do with Jess’s actions.

When Rory loses a bracelet Dean made for her, she panics not because she cares so much about the bracelet (after all, we find out it had been missing for two weeks before she noticed it was gone), but because she knows Dean will be incredibly angry at her for losing it and view it as a slight on their relationship, rather than an honest human mistake of LOSING SOMETHING.

That’s when I started wearing Free Rory t-shirts. Well, not really, but she needed to snip Dean outta her life.

(Jess had found the bracelet and kept it as a memento of her not realising what it meant to her. He held off for a little while on sneaking it back to her without her knowing who had it, yet, I thought Dean was the bad guy in the situation to be honest).

Even when it was obvious to everyone that Rory had fallen for Jess over Dean, she isn’t the one to initiate the break up, because she couldn’t face losing a perfect, stable GBW relationship. In fact, it is DEAN who breaks up with her because he is tired of being treated like a placeholder – Jess had her heart, but he represented messiness and the unknown, and she only went after this when she had no GBW to fall back on anymore.

Rory’s mother Lorelai, the person she is closest to, constantly cheerleaded Dean’s attributes to Rory. I think perhaps the most extreme example was after Rory is hurt in a minor car accident with Jess behind the wheel. Lorelai breathed fire after Jess, despite Rory saying she was equally at fault and Jess hadn’t been recklessly driving. When Rory asks how she would react if Dean was behind the wheel, Lorelai responds that an accident would never have happened if Dean had been driving, which is incongruous given that an accident by definition is something that is unplanned and can happen to the most responsible and attentive driver.

Dawson

Joey and Dawson have an unhealthy, codependent relationship throughout most of Dawson’s Creek. I have to admit Joey went kinda crazy in season two and gave nebulous reasons for breaking up with Dawson for the first time – she wasn’t sure she had an identity when with him, had to find herself etc. Still, when Joey offered herself to Dawson in the season three premiere in an attempt to win him back, he humiliated her by turning her down, despite ostensibly loving her. Fine, I can cut him slack because he believes that another tumultuous year of make ups and breaks ups could kill their childhood bond for good.

His behaviour when he discovered that Joey had fallen for his best friend, Pacey, who he had asked to watch out for Joey while they were broken up, is what sealed his deal as the very worst kind of GBW for me. This was compounded by the fact that the linchpin of the show was the idea that Joey and Dawson were childhood sweethearts and soul mates who “belonged to each other”, and anything else was textual blasphemy.

Despite showing little interest in Joey all year, and coming close to losing his virginity to trashy femme fatale caricature Eve, who was as subtle as her temptress name, he complete overreacted to discovering Joey had moved on from pining for him (Joey had dated college boy AJ earlier, but Dawson recognised only Pacey was a real threat). He then issued Joey a totally out of line ultimatum to stop seeing Pacey or he would totally withdraw his friendship, and ended his friendship with Pacey. Joey, who had a broken family and a father in prison, had found sanctuary in Dawson’s home growing up, so Dawson was playing on her deep abandonment fears.

Dawson also staged an antiprom, presumably to help his friend Jack, but later he admitted in an attempt to win back Joey’s favour, despite her clearly stating she would only go with him as friends after the PDJ angst had gotten out of hand.

Even with all of this douchery (which is contrasted by the gentlemanly behaviour of Pacey), it took DAWSON telling Joey it is obvious she is in love with Pacey and should go and be with him for her to finally follow her heart. One of the exec producers, Paul Stupin, likened this scene in the commentary to a marriage break up. For me, it was simply yet another instance of a girl being faced with the perplexingly easy (to the viewer) choice of dumping a GBW, yet being too scared to lose the stability and sanctuary this boy represents to them.

Oh yes, I would be remiss not to mention that Dawson tells Joey to be with Pacey but not to expect his friendship anymore… and in season four Pacey and Joey spend a great deal of time begging for his forgiveness despite having fallen in love while both single and having done nothing wrong.

But it was all worth it, because this led to Crying!Dawson.

So, as I come close to the end of this monster length post, there is one fabulous aspect of GBWs – they usually are accompanied by a totally awesome Bad Boy Best Friend, Frenemy or Rival.

This bad boy is initially conceived as the foil to the GBW – being a Bad Boy, their “vices” are supposed to make the traits of the GBW look even shinier in comparison. Somehow, these Bad Boys take on a life of their own and end up winning a lot of hearts, taking the writers by surprise.

Source

GBWs are seen as deserving The Girl/The Placeholder right off the bat, of being worthy of her, by virtue of their golden persona.

But is if often this Bad Boy who wins her heart in the long term, and knows her in a way the GBW never does.

Joey Potter famously ended up with Pacey Witter due to strong positive fan reaction, even though Dawson’s Creek creator Kevin Williamson has implied he intended Dawson and Joey to end up together in the series finale.

Joey states at one point in the series that Dawson and Pacey are the only ones to know her intimately, but I would say that while Dawson is the key to her childhood persona, Pacey understands the grown up Joey in a way Dawson doesn’t. This was symbolised in the “I remember everything” scene at the antiprom, where Pacey comments on the earrings and bracelet she is wearing.

Pacey: “Where did you get those? [the earrings] They’re not you.

Joey: “Why, because I’m just a poor tomboy, or is it because Dawson gave them to me?

Pacey: “Neither. [graps her wrist gently] See this? This is you. It’s not showy or gaudy. It’s simple. Elegant. Beautiful.

Joey: “It’s my mom’s bracelet.”

Pacey: “I know.”

Joey: “How do you know?”

Pacey: “Well, because you told me. Six months ago. You were wearing that blue sweater with the snowflakes that you have. You were walking down the hallway at school. I was annoying you as per usual. You said, ‘Look, Pacey, I just found my mother’s bracelet this morning, so why don’t you cut me some slack?’

Joey: “You remember that?”

Pacey: “I remember everything…”

Rory Gilmore and Dean Forester break up over Jess Mariano, and if not for the fact that actor Milo Ventimiglia only wanted to sign a two year GG contract, creator Amy Sherman-Palladino said she had ended Rory and Jess to be the soul mates of the series.

In season three of The Vampire Diaries, I’m looking forward to GBW Matt Donovan merely being a blip on Caroline Forbes’ radar, and hopefully some hot baby were on baby vamp action.

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But most of all, I am craving seeing the fabulous Caro in a ship where the guy she is with truly “gets” and appreciates her.

If Michael Trevino happens to get shirtless in the process, so be it.

And if he does the signature Tyler Chin Tuck (TM Gen), I might just fucking die from the hotness of it all.

Source

So, what do you guys think? Are there any Good Boy Woobies I missed? Do you think I am crazy for dreaming up this new character trope? Do you think writers are becoming less capable of writing Good Guys effectively?

Can GBWs ever become more likeable? I mean, at least with Bad Boy Woobies there is the potential for self-reflection and self-awareness of their flaws, because this is often an important part of their redemption arc. But GBWs, by virtue of being Good Boys, don’t NEED to be redeemed in the writers’ eyes. Is going bad the only way to make them more palatable?

Dawson is Model 1.0 for me, though I’m curious if anyone can identify any predecessors?

Update: Hey, I was thinking about it, and realise dthat James Van Der Beek’s foray into Tumblr amounts to him reveling in his Good Boy Woobiedom, since for most fangirls he is linked with Dawson forever and always. James has turned the douchery of being a GBW into an artform and turned the hatred on its head, mocking his own GBW image!

Update 2: I was having fun playing with the GBW model, and here is another one for you: George O’Malley from Grey’s Anatomy. I liked him initially, but he descended into douchedom around the time of Callie and Gizzie.

GBW = George. The Girl = Meredith/Izzie. The Placeholder = Callie. Callie loves George and tries to make their marriage work, even going so far as to try to have a kid with him to inspire loyalty when she felt him slipping away. Of course, he had an affair with Izzie, and Callie’s marriage to George was somewhat of a sham to begin with – it was impulsive and not a I Know You’re The One kinda impulsive but the I Will Regret This impulsive, with George getting cold feet the day they step back into the hospital after having a shotgun wedding in Las Vegas (IIRC). BB foil = Karev.

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About Spidey Sense

Pop culture junkie, fangirl, arts and theatre lover, and The Vampire Diaries, True Blood and The Walking Dead obsessive. View all posts by Spidey Sense

17 responses to “Revenge of the Good Boy Woobies: Matt Donovan, Dean Forester and Dawson Leery

  • André

    Ok, I never would have guessed that this would happen but I have to say this:
    I don’t get this article at all.

    Of course I never watched more then a few episodes of Dawson’s Creek (mostly because of Kerr Smiths butt) or Gilmore Girls and to be honest I nearly loathed Dawson’s Creek and if TVD goes down the same road I am out (I don’t have to tell what’s wrong with the show, we all know it).

    However I still think the fact that you hate the character of Matt so much is because he was a threat to the whole Forwood scenario (not that I get that either, if it would have been their personalities these two would have been interested in each other much sooner).

    One thing, what if these two were only brought together because they were so in the books? Do you think that is possible?

    But maybe the writers have already reached the limits for me in terms of check on reality (take the last episode, really was anybody surprised of Damon surviving, Elena forgiving him or Klaus’ “betrayal”?). Summ that up with all the other unexplained facts, plotholes, fast pacing (you mentioned what Plec said concerning that), underusage of acting skills and unrealistic character actions/development and I guess the ice has become pretty thin for me as far as the show is concerned. 😦

    Seriously, the supporting cast is more interesting to me than the main cast and doesn’t that mean the show has failed?

    I don’t know, maybe the hiatus will be good for me.

    • Spidey Sense

      I’m curious – do you not get my explanation of what a Good Boy Woobie is? Or why I would have these opinions about Dean, Matt and Dawson? As with anything, I don’t expect everyone to agree with my analysis, but I hoped to at least convey clearly why I feel the way that I feel about them. Considering this is one of the longest posts I’ve ever written, I don’t think I spared any words, either!

      One key thing you should take from this post is that the first three quarters is devoted to explaining what I dislike about Matt, Dean, and Dawson, and their respective interactions with what I’m calling The Girl and The Placeholder. I mention the Bad Boys, Tyler included, really only in the last part in a substantial way, and I barely analysed Jess, Tyler, and Pacey for the purposes of this post really.

      The whole point I was making is that even if the Bad Boys didn’t exist, I would dislike the Good Boy Woobies, Matt, Dean and Dawson, for how they treat The Placeholders. This is for many reasons: the entitlement, the “Why aren’t you behaving exactly the way I want you to behave” attitude (e.g. Dean and expecting Rory to respond in kind about loving him when he said,” I love you” even when she wasn’t ready), the way that they treat The Placeholder, who is not the girl of the dreams, like dirt because they are either taking out their frustrations at not being with The Girl or are just douches or both.

      It is just incidental that Good Boy Woobies tend to come with a Bad Boy I seem to find more appealing. The Bad Boys are usually there as a foil to the Good Boys to make them look even more Good in comparison, and I guess to also establish that they Bad Boys can’t be that Bad, or otherwise the Good Boy wouldn’t waste time on them.

      So, no, I repeat no, it is not Tyler love or rose coloured Forwood glasses that make me hate Matt. I hated Matt even before Tyler really registered on my radar in season two. I would hate Matt and his treatment of Caroline, regardless of whether he was in a triangle with Forwood or not. I just find it disappointing that Caro has subjected herself to being treated like The Placeholder because Matt is a Good Guy and she is trying to make her relationship be something with him that, IMO, it will never be.

      I don’t really think Tyler/Caro were just thrown randomly together because they hook up in the books. I mean, for starters, their characterisation in the TV series is much different than in the books (Tyler and Caro are quite evil in the books and far more sympathetic in the TV Series). Plus, Caro wasn’t a vampire in the books. I think the writers just put thought into the character arcs Tyler and Caro would be going on in season two and thought that their pairing yielded compatibility and conflict. They knew they would both be baby supes, and that Caroline would have the physical strength to be an equal with Tyler, and would go through shared experiences. At the same time, they knew they would be approaching a season where vampires and werewolves would be painted as mortal enemies, and needed a human face to this conflict that we cared about – so Tyler/Caro establishing a bond against all odds of being warring species, two regular characters we know well, fit the bill.

      I know what you mean about the writers stretching the bounds of credibility in the series – not in terms of the supernatural believability, because you have to suspend disbelief in this department to enjoy the series, but the motivations of certain characters. I also think certain secondary characters got short shrift, and rather than bringing such a large number of guest stars to kill off, they should have concentrated more on developing the regular characters they already have.

      Having said that, I think Caroline and Tyler are the two main secondary characters where they actually did that part RIGHT.

      I still enjoy the show thoroughly, but I think season one had a more cohesive story, even if I enjoyed the Tyler/Caro arc this season the most. I think where they failed was making the sun/moon curse false and not breaking the curse in favour of the werewolves, thus making mortal enemy species vamps/werewolves equally powerful.

      Nonetheless, The Vampire Diaries remains my favourite series, and I am looking forward to season three. Don’t miss the ride – otherwise you won’t be able to snark with me (and AT me!) 😉

      • André

        Man that was fast.

        Well, like I said, I no next to nothing about Dean and Dawson. Maybe I get what these woobies are, but to be honest I stopped categorizing characters (if I ever did it that is, I don’t know) and basically assess them individually.
        I think they should have developed Matt more, but maybe then they would have dropped it the way they dropped the werewolves in the show.
        I’m not sure whether I posted this video also here or only at Julie’s place. However do you think a scenario like that would fit for the werewolves, if they had higher numbers that is. And just to make sure: the trolls in World of Warcraft are usually 3 meter high savage cannibals, so not cuddly or cute.

        And like I said, I don’t get your disliking of the character. Not at all. And this is especially confusing considered your liking of Damon. Or is it the appeal of the bad boy?
        And didn’t Damon treat Andy (was that her name?) like a placeholder also because he couldn’t get Elena? And what was Rose in that scenario?

        “I just find it disappointing that Caro has subjected herself to being treated like The Placeholder because Matt is a Good Guy and she is trying to make her relationship be something with him that, IMO, it will never be.”
        Which is exactly why I don’t get that she is also such a “kickass vampire” in your eyes. I try to understand your points, I really do, but I don’t get it at all.
        And if you hated Matt so much, why did you never say that before the whole Forewood ordeal?
        At least I cannot remember that you did. And you didn’t hold back with your opinion about the other characters.

        I don’t think that the simple fact that their characterization in the show is different than that in the books is a good argument because so far the writers have come up with all sorts of crazy stuff (remember the human Salvatores, the disappearance of the Damon crow, the weird history behind the fake curse, Elijah’s and Pearl’s stupidity despite their advanced age, the absence of the witches as a believable power or their current deus ex machina role, not to mention how Klaus could speak Aztec even before Columbus’ landing in the Americas or that no vampire ever noticed that there were various versions of the curse legend, etc.).

        “so Tyler/Caro establishing a bond against all odds of being warring species,”
        Oh come on, neither of them has actually been exposed to the politics of either group. Mystic Falls practically exists in one giant bubble in that regard. None of the characters that started as human at the start of the series has actually “seen the world”. And nobody can say that Tyler did, he was only gone for less than a month, not nearly enough time. So you cannot call that “against all odds”.

        “I know what you mean about the writers stretching the bounds of credibility in the series – not in terms of the supernatural believability, because you have to suspend disbelief in this department to enjoy the series, but the motivations of certain characters. I also think certain secondary characters got short shrift, and rather than bringing such a large number of guest stars to kill off, they should have concentrated more on developing the regular characters they already have.”
        I totally agree with you there, as long as it is not too ridiculous (like a stone face having dimples ;-)) I accept supernatural elements (often out of pure necessity), but having something totally unbelievable… Too much for me (I mentioned some things above).
        The development of the secondary characters truly lacked or the way it looks now is unbelievable. I really hope Caroline isn’t all of a sudden Wonder Woman and Tyler Mr. Sensitive and the master of communications because no matter how you put it, that would be far too much and unbelievable considered the short time having past (hopefully the writers will get their heads out of their asses regarding the timeline). Not to mention that such a condition like Tyler’s is sort of martyrdom and such a thing doesn’t make a person better, it makes them desperate. All in all the werewolves lacked the actual danger to make them “mortal enemies”. They could at least make the wolf-sides smarter or let the two sides of a werewolf actually struggle; it would be good for telling stories with psychological drama and not just physical action. I mean a scenario where the wolf in Tyler actively influences his actions and feelings would (more than the bit now where it is in 95% of the cases Tyler alone), at least in my eyes, be much more satisfying. And it could make the statement of “natural enemies” actually a fact and not just a statement.
        Another thing that I didn’t like was how fast Jeremy got from one relationship to the other. Ok it would be believable if they had shown him as actually emotionally scarred or will so in Season 3 (but I doubt it to be honest, the show focuses too much on the main three), but so far he looks fine which is one of the most unbelievable features of the show, together with Caroline getting along seemingly so well with Damon (would you act the same way in her shoes, if I were her I would either avoid him at all costs or walk around with a stake ready at all times). In addition Jeremy should have acted angrier about being a constant punching bag and what about Bonny? Did she forget who was responsible for her grandmother’s death?
        And why the fuck did they kill Rose? So that Delena can come along? Well, probably yes.
        Not to mention Klaus, I think what the writers showed so far was simply to cement his status as the big bad ubervillain, despite the fact how unbelievable it is that only Elijah escaped him (the same Elijah who was fooled so easily I might add). I didn’t like that at all, I would have liked vampire civil war, with at least one Original (maybe even a woman and then somebody who “sired” her own branch of vampires) trying to eliminate Klaus. Maybe it will come, but again, probably not.

        “Having said that, I think Caroline and Tyler are the two main secondary characters where they actually did that part RIGHT.”
        Just don’t see it. There is nothing there on a personal level that keeps the two together; they were really just thrown at each other by circumstance. Without it they would barely share the same room.

        “I still enjoy the show thoroughly, but I think season one had a more cohesive story, even if I enjoyed the Tyler/Caro arc this season the most. I think where they failed was making the sun/moon curse false and not breaking the curse in favour of the werewolves, thus making mortal enemy species vamps/werewolves equally powerful.”
        Season 1 really was more cohesive that is true and maybe even ran over a longer period of in-show-time. And well you know my thoughts about the curse, which was just so unbelievable. The writers might be redeemed if they explain what happened with all those vamps that could have known the curse story to be a fake (so basically every vamp that was created more than 600 years ago, seriously were are they, or did the Originals start to sire other vamps so late, and why are the other vamps so frail in comparison?).

        “Nonetheless, The Vampire Diaries remains my favourite series, and I am looking forward to season three. Don’t miss the ride – otherwise you won’t be able to snark with me (and AT me!)”
        Don’t worry I have Teen Wolf to keep me going and I already think that your articles and Julie’s recaps would keep me going for the show for some time in either scenario.

        We will see what the show will bring. And since we’re at it, did you consider making some articles about what we would wish to see in season 3 and what not? I would say one article for each. What do you think?

        Ps. You might have seen the screencaps I made for Julie. Interested?

        • Spidey Sense

          Your comment was fast too! So fast in fact that you caught me on the computer just after uploading the post!

          Well, like I said, I no next to nothing about Dean and Dawson. Maybe I get what these woobies are, but to be honest I stopped categorizing characters (if I ever did it that is, I don’t know) and basically assess them individually.

          I know what you’re saying – all of the Good Boy Woobies, Bad Boy Woobies, and Bad Boys have distinctive personalities and flaws – so you have to be careful about reducing them to categories. The reality though is that every character is based on a model. It’s almost like mixing colours, really. You start off with a few primary hues, but once you get mixing there are infinite possibilities about how their arcs are executed. That’s what keeps analysis of TV shows fresh and interesting for me. So, I don’t intend to trivialise the characters by boiling them down to their essence. It really is just a case of, for analytic purposes, I need to identify some basic commonalities that explain what these characters have in common that drives me stark, raving mad. As I mentioned though, the differences in the execution of the characters means that these Good Boy Woobies exist on a spectrum of annoyingness for me.

          I think they should have developed Matt more, but maybe then they would have dropped it the way they dropped the werewolves in the show.
          I’m not sure whether I posted this video also here or only at Julie’s place. However do you think a scenario like that would fit for the werewolves, if they had higher numbers that is. And just to make sure: the trolls in World of Warcraft are usually 3 meter high savage cannibals, so not cuddly or cute.

          I still think the biggest mistake of season two was dropping the werewolves arc. These creatures should have become a force of nature and substantial foes for the vampires. Instead, they were emasculated. You’ll be happy to hear that it sounds like Matt WILL be developed more next season. It will be nice to see him serve a purpose other than washing dishes at the Mystic Grill or dating Caroline.

          And like I said, I don’t get your disliking of the character. Not at all. And this is especially confusing considered your liking of Damon. Or is it the appeal of the bad boy?

          Equally, I don’t understand how you can like Matt, or at least the kind of person Matt is with Caroline (and so we see this side of him the most). I’ve stated a few times now that I actually quite like Matt when he is with Tyler or Stefan, because as per the Good Boy Woobie trope, he is an all-around nice guy… to everyone but Caroline. For all the reasons outlined in this post, I believe he has treated Caroline unfairly and like a second class citizen to Elena – I think he uses her as an emotional punching bag. It is not so much Matt, as Matt-with-Caroline, I detest, but this is the persona I see the most. I just don’t like the show Telling me he is a Good Guy when, in reality, how he comes across in his treatment of Caro IMO shows he is anything but. I’m perfectly happy to have you disagree – but I think this post shows that my reaction is not just some knee jerk response, but one that I have put a great deal of thoughtfulness into.
          I guess Tyler and Damon are much more appealing to me because I feel like there is more of a connection between the way the show wants them to come across, and how these characters appear to me. The show acknowledges that Tyler is a “tool”, a “dick”, and as long as he continues to be called on his more negative actions appropriately, I will not hold them against him. It’s only when the writers tell me to have a particular perspective (e.g. Matt is a Good Guy and boyfriend to Caroline) but there is little or no evidence Shown, rather than Told, that I find the character insufferable.

          Also, in real life I am a girl who has never been drawn to the bad boy. In fiction, they are like an on screen id and give me a chance to experience the raw thrill vicariously that I never will in my own life – it’s a safe way of enjoying their appealing aspects without being at risk of having my heart broken.

          The other thing is, certain characters have a well of good will of awesomeness they can burn through before I start to question whether they deserve to be on my favourites list. Tyler, Caroline, Damon, Stefan, Elijah and Jeremy (for Steven R McQueen’s sheer s hotness and charisma alone) are these characters. So, even though I know it is terrible double standard, I am more likely to be lenient on them for even the most heinous actions. Because, let’s face it, Matt’s worst crime, being a bad boyfriend, doesn’t match up to failing a friend in a life/death situation or snapping the neck of the brother of the girl you love.

          Yet, because Tyler et al are called on their flaws directly by the writers more so than Matt, so that I don’t feel that annoyance at feeling different to the way the writers obviously intend, and because I just think the other characters are more interesting, I am more willing to forgive them their sins than Matt. Basically, when using real world logic Matt is less reprehensible, yet as a fictional creation in terms of his portrayal and interpersonal relationships with my favourite characters, he falls short.

          And didn’t Damon treat Andy (was that her name?) like a placeholder also because he couldn’t get Elena? And what was Rose in that scenario?

          I don’t really consider Damon’s relationship with Andie as needing a placeholder but a vehicle for coming to terms with his humanity (in a very disturbing way, it must be said). Rose wasn’t a placeholder because she was the one who framed the terms of their friendship and sexual interludes – I would consider her providing a friends with benefits type relationship with an added layer of depth.

          I am one of those fans who somewhat controversially, does not judge humans and vampires by the same standards. As I mentioned in my post, things get complicated when we consider supernatural creatures lacking humanity and their interactions with human characters. So, as horrific as some of Damon’s actions are, they at least make sense to me in the context of his status as a vampire.

          Besides, a think that Bad Boy Woobies and Good Boy Woobies are quite different creatures, so I don’t really need to judge Damon by the standards outlined in the GBW model. I noticed The Girl + The Placeholder was unique to the GBW in the sense that while a GBW might have a serious long term relationship with The Placeholder, a BBW typically only has one contender for his heart – The Girl. So, it is like comparing apples and oranges.

          “I just find it disappointing that Caro has subjected herself to being treated like The Placeholder because Matt is a Good Guy and she is trying to make her relationship be something with him that, IMO, it will never be.”
          Which is exactly why I don’t get that she is also such a “kickass vampire” in your eyes. I try to understand your points, I really do, but I don’t get it at all.

          She is a kickass vampire, because I don’t consider characterisation a zero-sum game – while she is decidedly unkickass around Matt, this does not negate her more kickass qualities, which just happen to be drawn out by characters like Tyler and Stefan. This is why I am all for Forwood and further exploration of her sisterly relationship with Stefan, and want Matt’s storyline to diverge from hers. I am sick of Matt dragging her down into a sea of suckitude.

          Kickassery and badassery are subjective. Caroline is a study in contradictions – for instance, she can be hypersensitive to other peoples’ perceptions of her and neurotic/insecure as a result, but it is this heightened awareness of people’s attitudes that also allows her to be incredibly generous and empathise/care deeply about Tyler’s plight more than the average person would. A person isn’t just one thing or another, they are many conflicting things at the same time. I just happen to think that her kickass qualities are more dominant.

          I also consider characters to be kickass if they take their foibles and flaws and use these in a really positive way or overcome them, as I believe Caroline has. For example, her control freak personality as a human drove people nuts, but it was this aspect of her that has also given her more control over her hunger than the average baby vampire.

          And if you hated Matt so much, why did you never say that before the whole Forewood ordeal?
          At least I cannot remember that you did. And you didn’t hold back with your opinion about the other characters.

          I guess because I really only started doing in depth character analyses on an ongoing basis with the emergence of Forwood. Before the Got Forwood recaps, I did isolated mixtapes about characters, but that was it. I guess my dislike of Matt was shown in his omission from the blog – while most other characters or ships have been covered in Vampire Diaries Sensory Overload and Mixtape Mondays, Matt as an individual and Matt/Caro have never really struck my fancy as a topic of choice. I mean, I just realised I haven’t even bothered to do a Matt’s Best Looks post, which I’ve done for every other major male character, and I like Zach Roerig’s looks!

          I think that I have made my derision for Matt clear from day one of Got Forwood, which is really the only time, aside from this GBW post, that he has even made an appearance. So, you can rest assured that my antipathy has been shown the first time he reared his head on this blog 😉

          Forwood is not an ORDEAL, by the way. Sheesh! Like other ships that I may like or dislike, they are a necessary ingredient to the storyline we have been shown so far. Even Matt/Caro served its purpose IMO. I mean, without Matt/Caro, there wouldn’t be the dilemma of a girl caught between two best friends, or the highly sophisticated metaphor of Caroline torn between her human side (represented by Matt) and supernatural side (represented by Tyler). So, while I didn’t enjoy the means of the Matt/Caro pairing much, the end may just justify them yet!

          I don’t think I am any quicker to judge Matt than you are inclined to judge Forwood. It’s not a case of right or wrong, it is a matter of subjective preferences. You have to give me credit for at least backing up my opinions. Fandom can get very vicious with this show without rhyme or reason provided – at least I revel in my hatred with some explanation backing it up!

          I don’t think that the simple fact that their characterization in the show is different than that in the books is a good argument because so far the writers have come up with all sorts of crazy stuff (remember the human Salvatores, the disappearance of the Damon crow, the weird history behind the fake curse, Elijah’s and Pearl’s stupidity despite their advanced age, the absence of the witches as a believable power or their current deus ex machina role, not to mention how Klaus could speak Aztec even before Columbus’ landing in the Americas or that no vampire ever noticed that there were various versions of the curse legend, etc.).

          I think you are equally wrong to believe Forwood possibly exists only because of the books for the reasons you outline here. Obviously the writers have deviated dramatically from the books, and I highly doubt that they wouldn’t feel limited by the books in terms of the ships they pursue. Tyler and Caroline in their TV conceptions yieleded the best dramatic potential for these two characters and the plans the writers had for them as individuals, so they were paired up. Simple as that. It is just an added bonus that book lovers can get a kick out of a book pairing being together.

          “so Tyler/Caro establishing a bond against all odds of being warring species,”
          Oh come on, neither of them has actually been exposed to the politics of either group. Mystic Falls practically exists in one giant bubble in that regard. None of the characters that started as human at the start of the series has actually “seen the world”. And nobody can say that Tyler did, he was only gone for less than a month, not nearly enough time. So you cannot call that “against all odds”.

          Well, being part of warring species even for a brief time caused Caroline to be tortured simply for being a vamp, Tyler and Caro to be part of a bloody standoff that almost resulted in Caro’s death, and their relationship to be damaged quite badly by lack of trust and understanding. All of this happened in a short space of time, and despite the intensity of it Tyler/Caro have emerged as friends.

          Plus, Caroline has been introduced enough to supernatural politics since being turned that she knew about the supposedly genuine sun/moon curse and that werewolf bites are fatal to vampires, which were two major pieces of information that have impacted the politics of the interrelationships between these two different species. Tyler had a month of intensive time away with Jules to learn more about her werewolf code of honour etc.

          Another thing that I didn’t like was how fast Jeremy got from one relationship to the other. Ok it would be believable if they had shown him as actually emotionally scarred or will so in Season 3 (but I doubt it to be honest, the show focuses too much on the main three), but so far he looks fine which is one of the most unbelievable features of the show, together with Caroline getting along seemingly so well with Damon (would you act the same way in her shoes, if I were her I would either avoid him at all costs or walk around with a stake ready at all times). In addition Jeremy should have acted angrier about being a constant punching bag and what about Bonny? Did she forget who was responsible for her grandmother’s death?
          And why the fuck did they kill Rose? So that Delena can come along? Well, probably yes.

          This will make me sound awful, but I am glad that the shows’ characters appear to get over the end of most of their relationships and even significant deaths quite easily. These characters go through so much trauma that if their reactions were accurate to real world standards, it wouldn’t be The Vampire Diaries but season after season filled with doom, gloom and grieving. If I have to suspend my disbelief on this account to trade off for my characters being ripe for new ships and forward moving rather than locked in a paralysis of grief, so be it. As long as the characters who have died are honoured by the moment the die carrying a feeling of gravity and impact, I’m am generally satisfied. I think you have to just accept certain parts of shows like this, or otherwise you won’t enjoy what is so great about them.

          Plus, if Damon’s century and a half long obsession with Katherine has taught us anything, hanging onto pain for a prolonged period of time can be highly self-destructive.

          Besides, I would say that the actors do a good job of showing that many of their characters carry the weight of the world. Elena, for example, always appears to be slightly sad and subdued. After the initial tears and overt grief of a loss, a lot of people just go through the motions and get through the day – but it’s not like fun, laughter and new relationships come to a screeching halt; life goes on. I think the characters do this, but their underlying pain is always evident. Given the serialised time format used so far, I don’t mind the characters coming to terms with things more quickly than would be the case in real life, because I don’t want the show to be mired in gloom.

          I guess the other way to look at it is that perhaps the characters are becoming desensitised to grief? They experience so much trauma on a daily basis that they would have to develop thicker skins and adapt to stay sane. Some people have even posited interesting theories that Elena is suffering a form of Stockholm Syndrome, and that is why she remains with the Salvatores in spite of them having hurt members of her family and Elena herself. Personally, I think you just have to accept the show for what it is or go absolutely crazy – I think there is a point where you can go to deep with the realities this show should be living up to. I would far prefer to focus on character dynamics between living characters and determine whether their motivations seem in character or not.

          “Having said that, I think Caroline and Tyler are the two main secondary characters where they actually did that part RIGHT.”
          Just don’t see it. There is nothing there on a personal level that keeps the two together; they were really just thrown at each other by circumstance. Without it they would barely share the same room.

          See my argument above for how I consider EVERY relationship between two people to be the result of them coming together through circumstance, whether it be growing up together or sharing an intense experience in a short space of time that binds them together in a unique way.

          And your point that without these circumstances they wouldn’t even share a room is probably right. Without going through the intense experiences of season two, they likely never would have established a bond deeper than that of distant acquiantances, as previously typified their relationship. I just happen to disagree with you in that I believe that people can go through intense experiences and be joined forever – I don’t think time is necessarily the only indicator of the quality of a close relationship.

          We will see what the show will bring. And since we’re at it, did you consider making some articles about what we would wish to see in season 3 and what not? I would say one article for each. What do you think?

          Oh, they are in the pipeline for sure. I am just deciding on the timing of their release especially as I am sure new spoilers will be forthcoming in upcoming weeks. I might put together a wishlist based on what we currently know, and then a spoiler and speculation post. I like your idea of reviewing what we wish to see and what we do not want to see in season three, though I suspect my list will be quite different to yours! Number one is I want less love triangles, because I think they are one of the more contrived forms of conflict and drama. I would prefer to have solid couples struggling through internal and external issues. Related to this is my desire to have Matt FAR, FAR AWAY from Caro, and for Forwood to get together and the focus to shift to the perspective of their mothers, their friends etc who might not want them to be together.

          Ps. You might have seen the screencaps I made for Julie. Interested?

          Ohh, I haven’t seen them. Where can I check them out?

          • André

            Well I see we both have been fast then. 😀

            First things first, I contacted you per E-Mail regarding the screencaps, with a few samples attached to the mail. And in case you read this first, the caps are in Julie’s last Teen Wolf recap.

            The way I understand it is that these woobies annoy you basically not because of their own personalities but rather due to a lack of presentation on the writer’s part.
            And actually I am leaning towards a neutral stance regarding Matt, there wasn’t enough shown of him for a useful picture for me to base an opinion on. I simply don’t get the stance so many other people seem to have. I cannot hate/be annoyed/like/love a character I know so little about.
            Maybe it will change in season 3. Or at least I hope so, seriously the writers must give us more about the supporting cast, the whole main triangle is starting to get really annoying actually.

            And well, you know my stance towards morality. The vamps are simply not distinct enough from baseline humans to deserve another standard. And frankly, while Damon’s actions make “sense” to me as well, it has nothing to do with his status as a vampire.

            Well, I already said what I would have done to make the werewolves more interesting. However, what is your info based on that Matt will have a bigger role in season 3? Do you have a link? And the question is: which character will have a smaller one?
            As sad as it is, I think Tyler and Caroline have only been given so much screentime in season 2 because of the arc to make Klaus the ubervillain and to let us watchers think that they will be sacrificed. I know you might hate me for this, but maybe that would have been better for at least one of them to die than the current “solution”, from a storytelling point I mean.

            Maybe Caroline’s contradictions have more to do with a lack of consistency on the writer’s part. Since she is “only” a supporting character that would be possible. You and I both noticed out of character presentations regarding other characters.
            Hard to tell of course, but I haven’t yet dismissed the possibility of several character developments being the results of flaws on the writer’s part.
            And given the representation of Tyler so far, I highly doubt that your argument that he represents her supernatural side has merit. If that is what the writers actually intended they … well you know what they did with the werewolves, not really good starting material. In addition Tyler’s supernatural aspect is a direct threat to Caroline.

            “Tyler and Caroline in their TV conceptions yielded the best dramatic potential for these two characters and the plans the writers had for them as individuals, so they were paired up.”
            Again, don’t get it at all. What potential?

            And yes Caroline was tortured but it was only one episode. In addition you don’t learn something about a society in 1-2 months (the season didn’t go longer then 3). Just because they heard this and that doesn’t mean it was ingrained into them or anything. Had both of them lived for several years in it and possibly not known each other then I would believe it, but not with so little time passed and the background that they have more or less known each other for years. If that was what the writers intended in the show, they need a CAT scan.
            And characters don’t have to run around crying all the time but if they stay so stoic the presentation should be realistic. I can’t just overlook something crazy like that not when a show basically claims to be based on our world.
            And about Damon and his Katherine obsession, in my eyes it means he is an idiot, especially after he found out that she didn’t care he was still willing to just forgive her although it was obvious that she had rejected him.
            And in what way is the characters pain actually evident? Really where? Occasionally yes, but not often.
            It would be ok if the characters actually do become desensitized but such a thing doesn’t stand for itself, it would also mean that they become emotionally detached from their surroundings. A reason why I think Jeremy’s portrayal is inappropriate, he should either be more emotional or more cold. Seriously didn’t you wonder why his drug addiction didn’t start again? They started acceptable at the start of the season but seemingly lost it.

            “I don’t think time is necessarily the only indicator of the quality of a close relationship.”
            Me neither, but in this particular case the characters never showed much chemistry before so time is necessary. Yes a close friendship is possible but not some sort of love triangle/relationship. Not on Caroline’s part that is, that would be out of character if you ask me if she just “runs” into Tyler’s arms right now. Maybe after another season (which hopefully will cover more time than just 2-3 months), but not now.

            And I wouldn’t be so sure whether my list of things we want to see and don’t want to see would be so different from yours. The first thing you mentioned I don’t want to see either is the love triangle. We already had that and need a bit less “love” so to say. More friendships and of course new blood. As hard as it sounds, I am nearly there for letting Bonnie die, Jeremy becoming moody and sullen (at least one character has to), and replacing Bonnie with another caster (since apparently one is needed) or maybe taking the fox-spirits from the book and linking them to the origin of the vampires, since season 3 is supposedly in the hands of the Originals anyway.
            Maybe we can exchange our “want to” and “not want to” lists via E-Mail. I might be in Vienna for a week but I will probably still check my E-Mail and my deviantart account.

            Ps. Do you already have spoilers and the like for season 3?

            • Spidey Sense

              Thanks for the amazing screen caps! The one of Steven R McQueen in particular was insanely hot. Methinks I need to finish working on the massive mixtape post I’ve been developing for him soon.
              The way I understand it is that these woobies annoy you basically not because of their own personalities but rather due to a lack of presentation on the writer’s part.
              I don’t hate all woobies, in fact, I madly, passionate enjoy the heck out of some of them (Logan, Damon), but Good Boy Woobies seem to be the type most prone to failure of authorial intent, and as you astutely pointed out, that is probably what gets me hating them. I was reflecting on my disdain for Matt, and realized that there are actually a whole bunch of moments throughout the series where I quite like him. Maybe I’ll make a post about the aspects of Matty Donovan I DO like and want to see more of. One scene I liked is Matt helping the Gilberts half-carry Jenna into the house after she stabbed herself under compulsion. HERE, finally, was a hand to God moment where he was being completely decent and loveable and taken for granted a little perhaps by Elena that he would be there. In fact, I was surprised there were no Salvatores in sight during this scene, since their absence left me feeling a little disappointed. THIS was a moment where I was seeing the Matt that the writers want me so desperately to see.
              And actually I am leaning towards a neutral stance regarding Matt, there wasn’t enough shown of him for a useful picture for me to base an opinion on. I simply don’t get the stance so many other people seem to have. I cannot hate/be annoyed/like/love a character I know so little about.
Maybe it will change in season 3. Or at least I hope so, seriously the writers must give us more about the supporting cast, the whole main triangle is starting to get really annoying actually.
              I guess you’re neutral about Matt because you don’t seem to be a particularly big Caroline fan. As someone who deeply cares about this character, it’s natural that I would feel antipathy towards someone who treats her like a placeholder, even though I have enjoyed his interactions with Stefan and Tyler.
              And well, you know my stance towards morality. The vamps are simply not distinct enough from baseline humans to deserve another standard. And frankly, while Damon’s actions make “sense” to me as well, it has nothing to do with his status as a vampire.
              The morality of vampires on this show is a really interesting issue, and one that deserves an entire blog post. I guess my feeling in short is that vamps on this show should not be judged by the exact same standards of humans, but it is made difficult to know which standards they SHOULD adhere to considering there doesn’t appear to be the structure in vampire society as there is on True Blood, which has kingdoms, queendoms, the magister (well, until he bit the dust last season) and so on. Having said that, if vamps are inclined to integrate into human society more than they intend to stay with their own kind or keep a low profile, I think they should be subject to more of their community’s mores and codes. With greater rights come greater responsibilities. So, the more that Stefan and Damon become fixtures in the Mystic Falls community (being part of bachelor auctions, acting as figureheads for the town council etc), the more I feel that they should be bound by human rules. However, the reality is that I don’t think this will ever be absolutely achieved, because some vamps (especially Damon) might crave their old humanity but feel vampires are superior or at least higher on the food chain. From a dramatic conflict standpoint, I am glad that vampires don’t blend wholly into human society.
              Besides, morality is subjective. Damon and Stefan would consider John’s decision to unleash a device designed to disable vamps as immoral to their kind, just as much as John considers vampires to be monsters. I think you’re just coming at the show purely from a human stance, whereas I think it makes sense to consider the perspectives of vamps, werewolves and humans as separate entities.
              Well, I already said what I would have done to make the werewolves more interesting. However, what is your info based on that Matt will have a bigger role in season 3? Do you have a link? And the question is: which character will have a smaller one?
As sad as it is, I think Tyler and Caroline have only been given so much screentime in season 2 because of the arc to make Klaus the ubervillain and to let us watchers think that they will be sacrificed. I know you might hate me for this, but maybe that would have been better for at least one of them to die than the current “solution”, from a storytelling point I mean.
              I’ll do a round up of links when I do my season three wishlist, but the main thing with Matt is that the return of Vicki is meant to yield some fairly intense brother/sister scenes. Tyler/Caroline where given such a focus in season two because they personalized the vamp/werewolf conflict with characters we already knew and were invested in – I think it was more that than the sacrifice thing being the main issue. Because, we were led for much of the season to believe there was a sun/moon curse to be broken, and their individual arcs and relationship was coloured more by this falsehood than the ultimate truth. I mean, Tyler didn’t even know who Klaus was until he was locked up with Caroline, ready to be sacrificed!
              I don’t think any of the regulars need to have a smaller role, so long as the number of guest stars is kept to a minimum.
              By the way, I don’t hate you for your opinion about Tyler/Caro dying – I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. But do I think you are a lost lamb needing guidance in the awesomeness that is Tyler/Caro? Absolutely 😉
              Having one of them die would have indeed been a high impact ending, and held more weight than Aunt Jenna dying. Luckily, the exec producers realized that the gold they struck with the Tyler/Caro pairing was far more important than a shock death for either one of them.
              We actually had a big conversation about this at TWoP, where many of us feel that shock deaths are a contrived way to heighten drama, like love triangles are. I mean, look at Buffy. Aside from Jenny Calendar and Anya, no major characters actually died (Angel doesn’t count cos he came back). Yet, I always felt tension and the jeopardy of these characters. I find it far more thrilling for creative scenarios of danger to be developed and equally creative solutions and emotional trade offs being made for them to survive, than to have them die. I think killing off too many beloved characters cheapens a show, because I would far prefer to continue following the storyline of an interesting character than have a slew of new characters I don’t really care about come in to afford us replenishments for deaths.
              Maybe Caroline’s contradictions have more to do with a lack of consistency on the writer’s part. Since she is “only” a supporting character that would be possible. You and I both noticed out of character presentations regarding other characters.
Hard to tell of course, but I haven’t yet dismissed the possibility of several character developments being the results of flaws on the writer’s part.
And given the representation of Tyler so far, I highly doubt that your argument that he represents her supernatural side has merit. If that is what the writers actually intended they … well you know what they did with the werewolves, not really good starting material. In addition Tyler’s supernatural aspect is a direct threat to Caroline.
              I think you are totally, brutally wrong about Caroline’s contradictions reflecting character inconsistency – she is one of the most consistent characters of the lot. I was more trying to convey that she has certain qualities (e.g. heightened insecurity) that can manifest themselves in different ways (jealousy issues versus ability to empathise with other people in their greatest moments of fear and doubt deeply). Just because you are one thing doesn’t mean you can’t be another. I find character consistency is more related to unlikely character reactions. For example, I didn’t like how Bonnie suddenly changed her stance on Damon without any gradual character growth or transition to show why her opinion had changed – the writers left us to make deductions about what had happened offscreen. At least with Tyler and Caro, you are shown why they have evolved. Tyler’s transformation and disappointment at failing Caro caused him to mature in a short space of time and realize what really counts. Caro’s control freakiness actually empowered her as a vampire, and her experiences with Stefan mentoring her right after her change all contributed to the believability that 1) she would feel confident enough to guide Tyler through the uncertainty in the lead up to his transformation 2) have the desire to pay forward what she had received.
              “Tyler and Caroline in their TV conceptions yielded the best dramatic potential for these two characters and the plans the writers had for them as individuals, so they were paired up.”
Again, don’t get it at all. What potential?
              See 12_12_12’s post on this.
              And yes Caroline was tortured but it was only one episode.
              Would you really tell someone tortured in real life for hours on end in the painful way Caroline was, “oh, you were only tortured for one day (one episode), big f’ing deal”??? brady and Jules had clearly tortured vamps before (they had a cage AND tools specifically designed to maximize the pain), so yeah, I think her torture would have been more awful than you are implying it was.
              In addition you don’t learn something about a society in 1-2 months (the season didn’t go longer then 3).
              You may not learn EVERYTHING, but you would learn SOMETHING, and would probably be given the Cliffs Notes version (i.e. told the important parts). Some of the somethings we learned – there was a sun/moon curse that could be broken on either side to benefit that creature (of course, this turned out to be false, but the creatures didn’t know this at the time), a were bite kills a vampire, werewolve can learn how to sniff out vampires, were/vamps have a history of animosity, werewolves have a pack mentality that lends itself to a group code of loyalty where they are willing to die for each other whereas vampires don’t necessarily feel connected (even if makers – Damon didn’t really give a damn about Caro, although he now has a grudging respect for her I think) and only come together if their a friendship, romantic or familial bonds… I could go on for hours. If I’ve picked this up in 22 or 23 episodes of a show, imagine how much the characters would presumably have picked up off screen,
              And characters don’t have to run around crying all the time but if they stay so stoic the presentation should be realistic.
              People react to grief in different ways and show it in different ways – I think it is wrong to say that stoicism is not a socially acceptable way of displaying grief. I am not one for big public emotional overtures, and I think it makes sense for many of these characters not to be either.
              I can’t just overlook something crazy like that not when a show basically claims to be based on our world.
And about Damon and his Katherine obsession, in my eyes it means he is an idiot, especially after he found out that she didn’t care he was still willing to just forgive her although it was obvious that she had rejected him.
              Umm, I think Damon is well aware he was an idiot with Katherine, and has essentially acknowledged this out loud on several occasions (e.g. telling Alaric that Alaric’s decision to stop looking for Isobel only after two years rather than 145 was actually healthy).
              And in what way is the characters pain actually evident? Really where? Occasionally yes, but not often.
              How many Elena!cries scenes have we had? I’ve said earlier, the pain is evident IMO in the way the characters carry themselves with a world weariness, so that even during lighter moments you can feel their pain. Plus, things like Damon’s snarkiness and glibness are often a defence mechanism against pain. Just because the characters don’t show pain in stereotypical ways like sobbing over and over, doesn’t mean they don’t feel it.
              It would be ok if the characters actually do become desensitized but such a thing doesn’t stand for itself, it would also mean that they become emotionally detached from their surroundings. A reason why I think Jeremy’s portrayal is inappropriate, he should either be more emotional or more cold. Seriously didn’t you wonder why his drug addiction didn’t start again? They started acceptable at the start of the season but seemingly lost it.
              I agree that Jeremy’s arc was wasted this season, and would have preferred his friendship with Tyler explored more than a relationship with Bonnie. His characterization suffered, and I have no argument for that fact. It is possible that he didn’t become emotionally desensitized so much as things like his savior complex for Bonnie (e.g he went into the tomb Katherine was in) was activated. Again, trauma shows itself in various ways.
              Even his desire for a relationship with Bonnie could be fanwanked as evidence of his trauma. Maybe he clings so desperately onto romantic relationships because they are the only thing that give him joy in this fucked up world, and he doen’t intend to dishonor his former girlfriends’ memory, but doesn’t want to be alone and so pursues new relationships even shortly after their death.
              “I don’t think time is necessarily the only indicator of the quality of a close relationship.”
Me neither, but in this particular case the characters never showed much chemistry before so time is necessary.
              I beg to differ. In Haunted in season one, Tyler/Caro share a crack ship scene where they are at a costume party and share conspiratorial glee about how they are going to get drunk and find someone hot to make out with. I saw sparks aplenty there. Again this is all subjective. The chemistry was always there, they just didn’t have the emotional closeness to back it up.
              Yes a close friendship is possible but not some sort of love triangle/relationship. ask me if she just “runs” into Tyler’s arms right now. Maybe after another season (which hopefully will cover more time than just 2-3 months), but not now.
              Well, aside from one kiss that was partly an impulse decision in the heat of the moment after the emotional experience of Tyler’s first transformation, all Tyler/Caro have shared so far IS a close friendship. Similarly, Elena/Damon are still officially friends despite her giving him a (she thought) goodbye kiss. Hopefully, there is a slow burn for both ships next season, although I think it is obvious by now that both Tyler and Damon are well aware of their feelings for the girls. As always, I believe that INTENSE experiences can change the quality of a relationship you share with someone, even in a short space of time. Also, there is the possibility of a time jump at the start of next season.
              Not on Caroline’s part that is, that would be out of character if you
              And I wouldn’t be so sure whether my list of things we want to see and don’t want to see would be so different from yours. The first thing you mentioned I don’t want to see either is the love triangle. We already had that and need a bit less “love” so to say. More friendships and of course new blood. As hard as it sounds, I am nearly there for letting Bonnie die, Jeremy becoming moody and sullen (at least one character has to), and replacing Bonnie with another caster (since apparently one is needed) or maybe taking the fox-spirits from the book and linking them to the origin of the vampires, since season 3 is supposedly in the hands of the Originals anyway.
Maybe we can exchange our “want to” and “not want to” lists via E-Mail. I might be in Vienna for a week but I will probably still check my E-Mail and my deviantart account.
              Heh. I think it would be more fun for you to comment at the end of my wishlist so that we can all see what everyone’s wishlist is.
              Ps. Do you already have spoilers and the like for season 3?
              A few, yes. Just want to wait a bit longer before writing a speculation post based on these spoilers.

              • Andre

                Ok, since this post would be really narrow, I say lets focus on the important things at hand.
                If you find my screencaps good, I might be able to provide more, currently I can provide them for episode 1,2 and 11 of season 2.

                I know what I definitely don’t want so see: the third season starting where the second ended and everything going on over less then two months. Not again, Elena has to get 18, and by the way I don’t want to see anything like “oh hello [relative we never speak or spoke about and now that your here we will pretend we know you so well]”
                I so hate that, that is soap opera all over.

                I will wait eagerly for your spoilers 🙂

                • Spidey Sense

                  Hi Andre,

                  Your offer of screencaps is very sweet, but honestly, when I do my recaps of episodes I like to take my own screen grabs because quite often there is a particular expression of movement I want to capture. Although, I AM doing a feature on Jeremy soon, so maybe you could send through some Steven R McQueen ones?

                  I don’t really want a time jump, or if we have to, it should only be minimal. I don’t want to be cheated out of early Forwood and Ripper!Stefan.

                  I think sometimes mate you just have to stop yourself from getting too bogged down in real world time and real world morality. I consider these aspects, of course, but if you fixate on them too much they’ll just diminish your ability to enjoy the show.

                  • Andre

                    Do you have any specific episodes in mind for the McQueen photos (other than the handorgasm-scene of course)?

                    I can get along with inhuman morality if it is portrayed accurately, but on this show the vamps are basically judged on human values, even by themselves, so no I cannot forget it.

                    The time has not only to do with the pacing of the show but more with the age of the actors. We all no they already don’t look like teenagers and you know what the problem is with playing a vampire. In addition it wouldn’t fit the portrayal of Klaus, the guy has waited for a thousand years and all of a sudden he can’t wait? In addition, is it just me or did he actually not come along as paranoid once he was there in his own body?

  • Sophie

    Talk about a long ass rant. But I loved every word!

    I hadn’t really thought about the existence of a GBW nor of a BBW, but then again that’s why I read your posts and those (equally enlightening) of others.

    I don’t have much to add, for you took your time to tell us why you think this and how much sense it does make.

    After my initial ‘oh my god Tyler is so perfect and this just proves that over and over. Jesus does she love Jess and Pacey too? Cherie is awesomesauce!’ I went to think of the concept of a GBW.

    Now, imo there are a lot of GBW and when you asked if we could think of another my mind immediately went to George, the character so many loved but whom I found annoying by the time they wrote him off. But you already mention him later on. By the way, there’s also such a thing as a GGW. A Good Girl Woobie. Example: Izzie. My love for her dialed down quite a bit in the end there. I bet there are more GGWs, but I can’t think of one right this second…

    And FYI, Alex Karev is amazing although I don’t get what is going on with his character in the last season(s).

    I thought about it more and came to the conclusion you gave us the three most obvious GBWs. Others are close to being a GBW but don’t really make the cut. Like, Mr. Big in SATC. You can tell me he’s the bad boy (although I just I see him as an ass) but the writers continually made his character out to be this good guy who only loved Carrie and who was the only guy that could make her happy. Carrie was always trying to be The Girl for him, but for Mr. Big there she was a Placeholder for Natasha/His carreer/Himself.
    He cheated on his wife with her, he made her feel inadequate etc. And maybe he ran to Paris to get her back because he loved her oh-so-much but in my eyes I just saw a man who didn’t want to lose the girl who had been pining over him for so long. I preferred her with Aidan, although many say Carrie couldn’t be herself around him. Also, in this scenario The Placeholder marries the GBW only to be left at the altar and when she does marry him, he stops caring and she seeks refuge in the arms of The Other Guy.

    Another might be Nate Archibald. I don’t hate him as much as I hate Matt and I don’t nearly like him as much as I love (love LOVE) Tyler.
    I do ship Serenate a bit, not diehard but I like them. But the writers see him as this cute, loyal guy who is THE guy for Blair Waldorf. She shouldn’t be with Chuck Bass (and now that we think of it, after season 2 she really shouldn’t have been but that’s just a matter of perception and who you like more -coughDANcough-) because Nate was the guy who was perfect for her.
    Rewind that, will you. Cute? Okay. But loyal? Didn’t he love The Girl aka Serena the entire time he was with Blair? Didn’t he have sex with said Girl while being with Blair, even asking her to be with him at a party his girlfriend was at? Later on, he even went for it and dated his dreamgirl. He briefly lost her and then went after Little J, another Placeholder, but as soon as Serena snapped her fingers he was back at her side. Therefor, Serena is The Girl and Blair/Jenny/Vanessa are The Placeholders who will never be enough.

    This was fun! There are probably more GBW out there, but these are the ones I could think of from the shows I watch.

    I also love your Misfits reviews btw, I haven’t commented on one I think, but I do read them all! 😉
    Hope you’re well!
    xo

    • Spidey Sense

      Hey Sophie!

      Let’s just say this rant has been building up for a long time – although I believe Zach Roerig to be awesomely cute, I truly haven’t disliked a character so intensely as I do Matt since Dawson Leery infected my screen. I suspect this is because I love the character of Caroline and feel ultra protective of her in some weird way – so I have little patience for someone who just treats her like second best all of the time.

      I have lots of feelings about Matt/Caro vs Tyler/Caro, obvs, so this post just kept getting longer and longer. It’s probably good for me to post something like this every now and then though – it shows that while I am shallow as a kiddie pool a lot of the time, I can be abyss deep too 😉

      It is SO much fun to apply the GBW trope to shows, isn’t it? Once I nutted out this theory, I realised just how many of my favourite shows had the dynamic of Good Boy Woobie vs awesome Bad Boy in some form or another. I think your take on Sex and the City is absolutely brilliant – Forwood unicorn fairydust for you! I am a diehard Aidan fan, and now you have highlighted why – because Big basically treats Carrie the way that Matt treats Caroline! Big is an interesting case because he was conceived as a bit of a bad boy, but then morphed into “one of those nice guys you can have fun” with, as Carrie put it, after the girls decided to be one another’s soul mates. GBWs really do seem to get some weird thrill out of keeping a girl locked in the pining stage. I wonder if part of the appeal for The Placeholders with the GBWs is that these boys are always unattainable in a way, even if they are dating them – emotionally unavailable even if physically present. I remember when Carrie got annoyed at Aidan for being “too available”, and his perfect answer, “I have a life, I’m just making room for you in it”. Seriously, why did she marry Big again? 😉 Seriously though, the lure of the unattainable should not be underestimated. Isn’t it funny how we can kill ourselves to please people we know are indifferent to us or dislike us (I think this can trigger a defense mechanism of overcompensating and seeking approval), whereas the people who accept us as exactly the way we are can be the ones who fade into the background.

      Aww, you’re a Pacey and Jess fan too? I already knew you had exceptional taste in TV boyfriends, but this just takes the cake My blogger pal Amy calls Pacey ultimate TV boyfriend, and he really has, Pacey has set the standard for other awesome Bad Boys to meet up with. If Tyler buys a wall for Caroline or defends her honour by sliding like a machinegun across a stupid boy’s car to knock some sense into him, I might just faint! The best part is, Bad Boys in this scenario hardly ever get the girl first, so you get to see them pining for her, and there is nothing I like better than a hot boy secretly in love with a girl he is friends with. Next season I’m hoping for snark and sweetness laden with enough sexual tension to make us want to strangle a mountain ox. Or something!

      Heh. Tyler is SO much better than Matt when it comes to Caro and insanely, infinitely hotter too. Sure, he was a dick in season one, but I think what strikes me most about worst actions is that they are almost always in hot blood – because he is confused, panicked and with little time to process what is happening to him. In contrast, Matt had more time to come to terms with things like Caroline being a monster – he spent enough time with her to be able to judge she was still her old self for all intents and purposes, yet was still conspiring with her mother to the end. Tyler’s hesitation came within hours of discovering that Caro had lied about Mason’s death, which is far more emotive.
      George from GA was such a qt initially, and I liked him more than the average GBW, so I was so mad when they woobified him and ruined all that was good about him. I love how you identified Izzie as a GGW! So true! I’ll have to try to think of some other GGWs now 😉 I haven’t watched Grey’s properly for ages so haven’t seen the downward spiral of Alex, but I suspect that all he would need to do is strip off his shirt and I would be on his side in a heartbeat.

      Thanks for the awesomesauce comment and your sweet words about my Misfits recaps. They are so much fun to write! Just imagine the epicness when I finally get to Simon/Alisha 😉

      X X C

      PS Hope all of your finals went well!

  • kjewls

    Just so you know, if there was a TV Trope book, written by you, I would absolutely be the first purchaser. The wide world of television relationships is such a treasure trove of awesomeness, sexiness, not to mention fodder for psychological analysis, that it’s a wonder there aren’t more people attempting to capitalize on it in a nonfiction format like this one. (So, if you do get published, be sure to pop me a shout out in your acknowledgements, OK? ;))

    As you know, I’m a staunch adherent to the religion of TV Bad Boys are Better. And you’ve really hit the nail on the head as to some of the reasons why this is the case. On one hand, I wouldn’t consider myself one of those girls who feels the need to “rescue” her man, and change him, as most pop culture analysts assume about us Bad Boy Lovers. However, I do like a TV boy with snark, spunk, and flaws galore.

    Unlike their Good Boy Counterparts, TV Bad Boys are unapologetic about who they are. They know their flaws, and accept them, even as they are attempting to be redeemed. This self-awareness tends to make TV Bad Boys more interesting, complex, multi-layered and real than the Boys Next Door Against who they are competing.

    They also, oddly enough, tend to be more emotional creatures. Because their experiences are real and raw, bad boys wear their hearts on their sleeves. They love deeper than their straight-laced good boy pals, and aren’t afraid to make mistakes, and lose their heads for love.

    For these reasons, TV Bad Boys tend to make much more passionate lovers. They almost universally have more chemistry with their female counterparts than their rivals, which makes them WAY more fun to watch and SHIP. After all, there is nothing like anger, rage, and barely repressed desire to make sexy bedroom times that much HOTTER and more erotic!

    Especially lately, on most TV shows, as you mentioned, Nice Guys do finish last. In the end, the Bad Boy will almost always redeem himself, and get the girl, whereas the well-intentioned but ultimately lackluster, good boy will be left in the dust with his petty judgments, criticisms, and lame sweater vests.

    There, is however, one exception to this that I’ve noticed in TV Land, and that is the Pining Nerd with the Heart of Gold. Whereas the Boy Next Door will almost always Lose to the Bad Boy, the Pining Nerd with the Heart of Gold has a pretty good track TV track record for beating both, at least, in the hearts and minds of the typically bad-girl loving fangirls.

    The most notable nerd who gets the girl in my mind is Seth Cohen. But there are others as well. Lucas from Pretty Little Liars is a pretty good example. And let’s not forget Ross from Friends, Chuck from the series Chuck, and Leonard fromt The Big Bang Theory. I’m sure there are many I am forgetting here.

    Thinking about this, I can’t help but wonder why we, as TV fangirls, we are so predisposed AGAINST GBW’s, but are all about the Pining Nerds that are, technically GBW’s in their own right. Is it because nerds are more pitiable? less judgmental? smarter and, therefore, more interesting?

    Hmmm . . .

    • Spidey Sense

      You know, the thing about Bad Boys is that writers walk such a tightrope with them, like I mentioned – the writers have to use a light touch and avoid all of those pitfalls, which can be tricky, but is ultimately worth it because the most compelling characters for me usually fall into the BB category.

      I think the main reason why I am drawn to Bad Boys on screen is that they tend to have a greater degree of self-awareness and self-mockery than Good Boys, because the writers think Good Boys are fine as is and don’t need to be redeemed or re-think their actions – I tend to root more for characters who are self-deprecating or who fight to be good against their nature. Take Dawson, for instance. A key character trait of his is idealism and a tendency to reject reality. His head is so much in the clouds that he even tries to storyboard his first kiss! Yet he rarely turns his mind inward to consider how he could change for the better.

      There is usually so much more scope for character growth for Bad Boys too, because short of turning bad and abandoning their Good Boy roots, there really aren’t as many interesting possible trajectories as there are for the Tyler, Damons and Paceys of this world.

      It’s interesting that a lot of Bad Boys have a sweet side when it comes to their ships that GBWs don’t show. Tyler’s “I get it” moment with Caroline had me swooning, yet within the same episode he asked in a really confrontational manner why she was even bothering to be there for him at all. I’m with you – it’s not that I want to change these BBs and redeem them through my love, I just think it is interesting to explore this sweet side that is already there but buried beneath baggage and angst.

      Also, wit and verbal sparring really gets me going too, so of course these BBs are going to win out – they are the masters of snark and just plain more fun than GBWs! whereas the well-intentioned but ultimately lackluster, good boy will be left in the dust with his petty judgments, criticisms, and lame sweater vests. This line was comedic genius and had me snorfling for about five minutes straight. You know how to go right to the heart of a girl’s hatred of Fitzy and Shue’s sweater vest addictions, don’t you? 😉 (thank God for Music Sex God and his Black Outfit of Lust, or else I might have lost my faith in humanity and the ability of vests to look hot!)

      You raise SUCH a good point about Pining Nerds With the Heart of Gold generally being the only nice guys who get the girl. I guess Seth Cohen has something in common with most BBs – his retaliatory zingers! Most Pining Nerds, Seth and Lucas included, capture our hearts in spite of their Hollywood Unattractive appearances and because of their witty wordplay. GBWs are usually just plain vanilla nice guys without a heaping dose of personality to liven them up like Pining Nerds. In fact, I would call Pining Nerds Bad-Boys-In-Geeks-Clothing, because they have the snarkery down pat, but just a less conventionally handsome exterior. So maybe that is the root of their appeal?

      Pining Nerds are also relatable and it is easy to live vicariously through them. GBWs are sometimes presented as too “perfect”, so they become That Guy like Matt ironically told Stefan he was – the guy who we are told has everything, so we stay away.

      Now, if only I can cajole you into penning a TV Trope book with me. How does a picture book of shirtless boys with the occasional snippet of text sound? 😉

  • imaginarymen

    “I remember everything” Never. Not. Swoonworthy!!

    UGH Jesse whatshisface is the reason I stopped watching GG!!

    Oh Van der Memes – how I love you so!!

    And I admire your Team Tyler Adoration. I don’t get it, but I admire it ;-0

    • Spidey Sense

      Hehe! My first thought, no joke, after posting this was, “OMG, Amy’s mind is going to be blown by the fact that I’ve managed to compare Pacey and Tyler… or possible spin on its axis ALA the Exorcist!” 😉

      I just realised that Pacey is the great TV boyfriend equaliser. We might all vary in how we feel for Tyler, Jess et al, but Ultimate TV Boyfriend just reigns supreme and renders all women helpless. I am yet to come acros that rare creature that prefers Dawson to Pacey. I couldn’t resist breaking out some Van der Memes for this post. Who am I to deny the world such comic genius? 😉

      You ain’t seen nothing yet with my Team Tyler Adoration. I am just gonna be out of control when Tyler and Caroline hook up properly, aren’t I! Together with Delena building up this season, I’ll hardly know what to do with all the hotness!

  • Tyler = Jess? Plus, some season three tips for TVD writers when it comes to Tyler/Caroline « myspideysenseistingling

    […] Dean Forester and Matt Donovan fit into the perfect ideal I think they could never have with them (click here for my rant about this trope that I sourced back to the days of Dawson Forehead […]

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