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'Manhattan Love Story' Adds Another Member to the Manic Pixie Douche Bro Trope

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 1, 2014 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 1, 2014 |


manhattan-love-story-teaser-abc.jpg

There’s nothing about ABC’s new sitcom Manhattan Love Story worth recommending, other than the fact that there’s something kind of interesting about Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love), who plays the female lead. She’s attractive in an otherworldly kind of way, and while the former America’s Top Model contestant is not a very good actress, she has an interesting screen presence. There’s a compelling nervousness about her that makes it hard to look away, but it’s not nearly enough to make the sitcom watchable.

The show, as encapsulated in the title, is a love story set in New York between Dana (Tipton) and Peter (Jake McDorman), and the gimmick here is that we can hear their interior thoughts. Like Mel Gibson in What Women Want, it’s an ability we quickly wish we didn’t have, because those interior thoughts usually amount to superficial observations about handbags or boobs. Scintillating stuff, although it’s so nice to know that what’s going on inside the characters’ minds is every bit as insipid as what they say aloud.

It’s a dumb show, and not really worthy of further commentary.

But the lead, Jake McDorman, did suggest another addition into the Manic Pixie Douche Bro category of men, which I like to trace back to Logan in Gilmore Girls: Sensitive, artistic, fratty, and a harmlessly chauvinistic (mostly).

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I actually kind of like this character trope. Some of my favorite characters have been Manic Pixie Douche Bros.

JD in Scrubs

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Shawn in Psych

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Dave in Happy Endings

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Schmidt in New Girl

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Adam Pally in The Mindy Project

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Logan in Veronica Mars

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It’s a fine line, though, and I’m not sure how else to characterize it except to say that the line between amusing and obnoxious casual sexism is a very fine one, indeed, and — despite the tear he sheds at the end of the episode — Jake McDorman doesn’t toe it as well as he should in Manhattan Love Story. He veers a little too far toward the sexist characters in Mixology and Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men, and understandably, the already thin conceit collapses under the weight of a poorly drawn character.

Given the disappointing ratings, and the unlikelihood that it can go anywhere with the gimmick, if you haven’t caught the pilot yet, Manhattan Love Story is probably best left unexplored.




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