Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer. Natalie Portman in Garden State. Any quirky girl who wears Modcloth dresses and serenades pigeons with Carly Simon before cartwheeling into the distance. This is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a sexist trope coined in 2007 by Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club. The MPDG is whimsical and zany and helps the male main character along on his journey like a pastel Disney forest animal. Unfortunately, she’s one-dimensional and only exists in service to the dude’s self-discovery.
The internet chomped onto the Manic Pixie Dream Girl concept and didn’t let go. Something about it struck a chord (on the ole vintage ukelele, of course). On days when I’m not feeling badass and empowered and driven, it seems easy, tempting even, to find a floral thrift-store dress and be someone’s sidekick. After all, there’s nothing wrong with hula music, Mama Cass, or rollerskating through life (trust me, I would if I wouldn’t immediate break my neck). Needless to say, same for equal partnership where both people support and encourage each other. But letting a dude subsume your agency and identity out of fear and/or laziness is different; that’s what I don’t want to do.
So why is being a manic pixie dream girl sometimes so appealing?