In 2007, A.V. Club writer Nathan Rabin noticed a specific type of female character that was appearing in films, one he dubbed "the Manic Pixie Dream Girl." The examples included Kirsten Dunst's character in Elizabethtown and Natalie Portman in Garden State, as well as other flighty, whimsical women who help loosen up the (mostly male) protagonist.
But the MPDG has become, and persisted, as a problem, which Jezebel astutely critiques: "It was such a satisfying term because it encapsulated exactly what was so annoying about those characters — that they were not super well-written or real enough, but some kind of figment of the imagination of a grown man in need of a pick-me-up of quirky youth injections into his limp excuse for a life. But the problem is that the term started getting applied to every kind of female character who was even remotely unique." Today, the MPDG, it turns out, isn't much of a character at all‚ which may be why women have so much trouble seeing them as three-dimensional entities.
So, in 2013, we say: Let's ditch the Manic Pixie. Instead, let's focus on the new archetypes of leading ladies of which we're starting to see. They are nuanced, complex, imperfect — and relatable. They have all the off-beat charm of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but when the guy characters are off-screen, they still exist without the male gaze . And they are a force to be reckoned with in and of themselves. So, how many of them are you?
Designed by Isabelle Rancier