• Liz

Shitty Romantic Leads in Movies and Television


I have problems with Penn Badgley looking down his nose at women for being attracted to his character from the show You on Netflix when we have been conditioned to romanticize shitty men through movies and television our entire lives. 


Let me give you a few examples of shit men that are portrayed in a positive light in movies and television...


  • Jim in The Office

  • Ross on Friends

  • Dan on Gossip Girl

  • Danny Zuko in Grease

  • Lewis in Revenge of the Nerds


Hannibal used to be my favorite, because he cut off his own hand instead of Clarice’s. You know, after drugging her, kidnapping her, and treating her like a doll. Only recently did I realize how problematic that was.


I’m sure you can all name a male character who you thought was amazing as a child, but grew up to realize he was problematic. We’re shown from an early age that gaslighting, lying, manipulation, and rape are all okay as long as it’s for love. 



If Penn's goal is trying to teach women not to be attracted to his character when it should be his goal to teach hollywood to stop making movies that portray shitty behavior as romantic I’ve got a new goal for him:

Don’t shame women for exhibiting behavior they’ve been conditioned to exhibit. 


Yeah, temporarily I thought Joe in You was attractive. But I also think Penn is kind of a dick for portraying such a character and then telling us we’re wrong when we’re attracted to him.


How about fixing the actual problem, the romanticization of shitty men in movies and television, instead of telling women not to be attracted to men like this, because the latter course eerily resembles the gaslighting I’ve seen from male “romantic” leads.


Love, Liz


If there are any shitty romantic leads I've left out leave them in the comments!

© 2016 by Liz Kelly Zook. 

Nashville, TN, United States