On September 22, 2014, Emma Watson gave a speech at the UN introducing the HeForShe campaign. The Plot Bunnies love Emma, we support feminists of all genders, we want equal rights for human beings everywhere, and we know better than to get bogged down in internet comments on the YouTube link. Gross. Everyone has the right to be complete, whole, respected individuals and we should all try every day to make sure that happens around us. You can be a part of supporting fellow human beings in your local neighborhood and your online community. Do it. Educate yourself, learn more, get excited, get mad, share stories, but remember these tips:
- Wheaton’s Law: Don’t Be a Dick
- When This Happens…
One of the strongest parts of the HeForShe campaign is supporting men who fight for equal rights too. In our struggle to encourage women, we can’t forget or make light of the issues men face. Men are also fighting stereotypes. They are expected to be sexual too. They have body image pressures too. They’re held to an impossible to obtain ideal image of the perfect specimen too. In many of those cases, it also means that men are expected to have their emotional side locked down.
Well, here’s to feels! Because that’s what makes drama! Every character, regardless of gender identification, sexual orientation, race, class, age, or animation style, should have emotional depth. To honor some of our favourite male characters, who are interesting, fully developed human entities on the screen or page, this month we’re writing She for He!
Here are some of our favourite male characters and why.
The men of Brooklyn Nine-Nine – It’s just smart comedy!
Detective Charles Boyle
What a man! He’s nervous, awkward, and clumsy. But he’s also a great friend to Jake. Charles has a fascination with food that serves not only as a source of fun jokes at his expense, but also leads to his relationship with an older woman who shares his passions. Despite being the least obvious hero type, Charles is the character who wins a Medal of Valor for saving a fellow detective’s life. Charles is a well-rounded character that wears his heart on his sleeve and you can’t help but love him. Literally, as Gina discovers. Twice.
Detective Jake Peralta
Jake might be the guy who goofs off at work and is the first to crack wise in the bull pen, but he also has the most arrests and wins the season one challenge to solve more crimes than Santiago. Through his bet with her, Jake comes to realize his feelings for Amy and confesses them before the season break. Jake fights authority and loves the idea of the classic cop, a cliché they toy with in “Old School” when Stacy Keach guest stars as a crime reporter. Jake faces those traditional, oddly romantic notions of what a successful cop used to be and updates the image. Now it’s not about a tough man who busts bad guys and drinks with his buddies, modern police work is about committed professionals, men and women, who respect each other and the law.
Detective Sergeant Terry Jeffords
Terry Crews brings to life one of my favourite characters EVER. This man is a fantastic, caring father of twin baby girls, he can bench press a mid-sized car, and he’s a beautiful artist who cares about his team. He is all of those things and more. Through the first season, Terry deals with his break down and fear of being back in the field. He’s an emotional and physical man. He’s also hilarious. Some of my favourite jokes of each episode come from Terry’s story and the physical comedy. He was trying to assemble a doll house and I lost it with giggles. When Captain Holt was trying to get Terry to finally get some sleep, he said, “Who cares what he thinks? You’re a police sergeant. You’re a grown man. Now take your nap” and I coughed milk out my nose.
Captain Raymond Holt
One of the most amazing characters on TV right now, Captain Holt is black, gay, married, and honest about the difficulties he faced, and currently faces, to become a high ranking member of the NYPD. Holt is robotic and difficult to read, but he cares about his team and the citizens of New York. We even get to meet his husband and learn a bit about their life away from the police department. Holt is an excellent leader but he’s honest about the mistakes he’s made. I love the Holt flash backs, they’re funny and insightful. Holt is a testament to creating a strong, commanding, gay character with excellent work life balance.
On The Mindy Project
Danny Castellano – Handsome M.D.
He’s a cantankerous old man in the body of a sexy, young-ish doctor. Asides from the fact that he’s yummy enough to eat, he’s one of the most loyal, sincere, and wise characters on the show. He makes a great antithesis to Mindy’s quirkiness, and SPOILERS that’s why they make such a great couple. He’s made an incredible transition from the office asshole that nobody truly liked to the office grump that everybody relies on for help and comfort. He’s probably the only person on this show who is exactly who he is 100% of the time. Maybe except for that time he pretended he was Jewish so he could ‘seduce’ a rabbi into giving him patients. But asides from that, he’s a genuine man, and that’s what makes him so amazing.
Morgan Tookers – The Weird Nurse R.N.
At first glance, Morgan is probably not someone you want drawing your blood, let alone be in the same room as you. However, within the first ten minutes of being in the office, he proved himself just as capable as any other person by resetting Mindy’s broken nose while everybody screamed and recoiled in horror. That’s just the beginning of Morgan’s steadfast loyalty and the kindness he expresses to everybody he comes into contact with. While you may think that he’s just the comedy relief (in a lot of cases, he is), he also plays a vital role in the lives of the people around him. Whether it’s building a bunk bed for you when he clearly should be working, or grinding your birth control up into your coffee so you don’t forget it – yes, he’s weird and he has way too many dogs, but Morgan is the bestest friend anyone could ever have.
Jeremy Reed – British M.D.
Oh, Jer-Bear. Our adorably insecure, womanizing doctor of the British influence. While Jeremy has been around since the very beginning, he’s arguably one of the least developed characters on the show. Though he’s technically the practice’s managing partner, he often fails to rein in his more rambunctious fellows – whether it’s because of inability to assert authority due to his pushover personality, or his tendency to not really give a fuck about what other people feel. However, his character has made small steps in Season 2 towards being much more multi-dimensional with his eating disorder and daddy issues. I believe in you, Jeremy!
Peter Prentice – Bro M.D.
To be honest, I didn’t think Peter was going to last one episode, let alone become a series regular. When you first meet him, it’s an assault on all senses – he was an immature frat-boy who seemed to be stuck in time. However, like Morgan, he soon proved himself to be a very capable OBGYN with exceptional bedside manner. What’s best is that he’s perceived as the office tool, so he works twice as hard to be recognized and be respected for his value. And beneath all that cockiness and bro-sterior? Just a regular guy who had his heart broken and is struggling to recover. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, he’s much smarter than he looks, and also quite stupid at times. That’s why we love him.
Captain Jack Harkness – Doctor Who and Torchwood
I love Captain Jack Harkness and that’s not only because he’s played by John Barrowman, who is one of the most beautiful men alive. Seriously, the sun shines a little brighter every time that man smiles, because the sun is jealous of his radiant hotness. You could say the Cap starts with an advantage here. That’s not all though. Captain Jack Harkness comes from the future. He starts off as a simple soldier but becomes an immortal possibly destined to be the most ancient being alive. The Cap is hot, heroic, funny, and… bisexual! Openly bisexual characters always get a kudo from me. Yay for not erasing a character’s bisexuality! The fact that the Captain is a guy adds a layer of awesome to it, since bisexual men tend to have more problems coming out than bisexual women. Here, not only is the Cap bisexual, but nobody makes a really big deal out of it. He can walk up to The Doctor and Rose and just make out with both of them without causing a riot (at least, not an angry one). His bisexuality is a part of his personality but it’s not what defines him. What defines him is that he is one of the most awesome characters in the new Doctor Who, so awesome that he got his own spin-off series! Captain Jack Harkness gets to be narcissistic, flamboyant, he expresses his attraction to people with no shame, and he also rocks at saving the world. Deal.
The princess Zelda is in love with him for some reason and there are a lot of things going on around him. Link is the hero of Time, loved by many, feared by some, always brave, smart, with impeccable morals except when it comes to chickens. Still, he is pretty bland. Why? Because Link is the protagonist of a video game and like most video games protagonists, he is meant to be a vessel. Really, the gamer is the hero there. Link does get some kind of a personality in the comics and a very obnoxious, perverted persona in the animated series, but that’s not what makes me love this character at all.
I first encountered Link when I was around 10 years old and I am not ashamed of saying that he kind of set the bar for the kind of guys I like, physically speaking. Most male protagonists we see nowadays are either buff to the point of looking barely human, or ruggedly handsome brown-haired white guys vaguely trying to look like Nathan Fillion. Link has shiny blonde hair, fine features, and a more or less delicate build. I know this is kind of a cultural thing in Japan and that Nintendo is pretty good with making their men look a bit different in general, but Link was the first pretty guy I was exposed to that could also reduce giant boars to ashes. Powerful.
Steven – Steven Universe
Steven is pretty new to the TV scene and he’s already getting a lot of attention. Sure, at first he seems like he would be just another little boy living a fantastic life. We’ve seen it before, right? Well, yes and no. Steven Universe makes me incredibly happy because Steven’s family isn’t a typical one, yet he is not shown as a freak. He is simply a little boy raised by three awesome ladies. Steven is a sweet kid who likes food and music. His dream? Becoming a Crystal Gem like his mother. He even carries his mother’s gem, a rose quartz that he keeps in his navel. In a world where boys are taught to be almost afraid of the colour pink, this is pretty neat. The show is sweet and is part of that cluster of good kid’s shows that I’d like parents to actually show their kids. Steven Universe started just last year and probably doesn’t have quite the reputation yet, but I assure you that it is worth checking out. It has compelling stories, sweet music, and characters that may just show kids that you don’t have to be perfect to be awesome.
Tony Stark – Iron Man
If having a soft spot for charming assholes is wrong then I obviously don’t want to be right. Not sure when or how it started, exactly, but said assholes seem to be making the most interesting characters, like, 95% of time, and understandably so, seeing as how their character arcs are as intriguing and elaborate as you’d want them to be.
Now, imagine if Iron Man didn’t exist! He was kind of an ‘accident’, so to speak. Did you know that Stan Lee came up with him on a bet when he was challenge to create an unlikable character everyone would actually like? And here we go – 50+ years later and still winning the hearts of the audience. What makes him a good character is that he really is an asshole most of time, but it does not make him a bad person by definition. First of all, he’s an asshole who is not mean just for the sake of being mean. He is sassy and quite unbearable most of time, and I am not sure I’d want to deal with him in real life, to be honest. On top of that, he is full of himself and he never hesitates to call people on their BS, which, of course, is not something we usually enjoy. Yet, he has a very strong sense of morale and despite being a jerk, he really is a GOOD good guy, especially in the world where egotism is not a crime.
Duke Croker – Haven
As for Duke Croker from Haven, it is all the ‘shades of grey’ of his character that make him so intriguing. It’s safe to say that the ambiguity and occasional shift of his allegiances gave him a better character arc development in all 4 seasons of the show than those of all other characters combined. He is definitely not entirely good but he is never entirely bad either. As someone who is looking out for himself, Duke is someone the audience can relate to, especially in the situations when basic survival is at stake. Portrayed by Eric Balfour, Duke Crocker is full of charm and witty one-liners. His choices and decisions can be questionable at times but he never hesitates to put his life in danger to help his friends even though he will most likely be cringing and muttering under his breath about not wanting to do any of that in the process. Additional bonus? He lives on the boat! Who wouldn’t find that fascinating?
Flynn Rider – Tangled
And then there is, of course, Flynn-slash-Eugene who can hardly be called a one-dimensional character as well. Much like the previous two, he relies on his charm to wiggle out of any undesirable situation but all of his actions are still dictated by a certain set of values and principles, even though he keeps them at bay most of time, struggling to appear as egocentric on the outside as he can. He is a reluctant hero who is clearly not looking forward to helping the ‘damsel in distress’ but when he does so, he is set on doing his best to keep Rapunzel safe. It would probably be a bit of a stretch to call Flynn a new Robin Hood but he’s got enough sense to keep his stealing tendencies to the ‘rich’, leaving the ‘poor’ and their possessions alone. It doesn’t take him long to show his vulnerable side to Rapunzel, giving us a chance to sympathize and empathize with him. Above all, he’s an adventurer!
All in all, strong male characters – those that you can’t help but root for no matter what – are not as numerous as it may seem, which makes them particularly interesting and their development impressive. Sadly, too many promising characters fall victim to lazy writing. There’s still hope for the remaining ones.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed they’ll have a chance to become, wait for it… legendary.