6 Attempts To Deconstruct The Manic Pixie Dream Girl

She's not your miracle and she doesn't 'complete you'.

You know the character, she sweeps into the life of the repressed sadsack hero in a whirlwind of rainbow coloured hair and life affirming minor law breaking and her quirky attitude helps the mopey leading man to discover that life really is worth living. Yes, we're talking about that mainstay of offbeat indie romcoms, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. While the term may have been coined by critic Nathan Rabin (who has since had a complex relationship with his own concept) in reaction to Kirsten Dunst's needlessly whimsical turn as Orlando Bloom's lover-saviour in Cameron Crowe's dire Elizabethtown, the MPDG has been around a lot longer, pretty much as long as there have been quirky indie films. Hell, the likes of Goldie Hawn made a whole career out of playing these kind of male fantasy untethered free spirits. As Rabin noted, the problem with all these films is that the MPDG is just a fantasy figure whose quirks only exist to pull the male character out of shell, whose personal problems are entirely superficial, making her feel nothing like a real, three dimensional person, and who has no arc of her own but only serves to advance the male hero's arc. Wising up to this, an increasing number of films are being made that present as conventional MPDG male projection fantasies and then begin to deconstruct the archetype into something more akin to a real person. With the latest attempt at rewriting the trope cropping up at the moment in Paper Towns, now seems the perfect to time to assess it and similar previous efforts.
Contributor
Contributor

Loves ghost stories, mysteries and giant ape movies. Thinks Netflix is overrated.