When a girl is just starting out in the world, she often tends to have the sensibility of a concussed spaniel when it comes to guys. There’s something exciting about the distancing, fuck-you attitude of the stereotypical bad boy—which is usually augmented by some degree of raw sexiness (otherwise he’s merely an idiot). So he’s already got a record and a kid or two— whatever. You’re a magical, golden PYT, the One who can tame this stallion. Anyone who doesn’t agree with you is just jealous and bitter.

So after a few trainwrecks like this, you do some growing up. Even if the bad-boy type still has a twinkle of base allure at this point, you’re experienced enough now to know that he’s just not worth the drama, abuse and general BS. So what, then, might toast the taco of such an evolved woman?

May I suggest a personal favorite: The Grumpy Hero. Under a crust of sarcastic (but often humorous) world-weariness that you can now relate to, there beats a battered heart of gold. That’s his redemption, and it makes all the difference.

Here are a few random examples to illustrate what I mean:

Mal Reynolds: If you haven’t beheld the truncated glory that is Firefly, get yourself acquainted with a quickness. One of the many reasons to do so is Captain Malcolm Reynolds—a burned-out veteran-turned- pirate who has exactly zero love for the Establishment, but will go to the wall for anyone on his crew.

Dr. McCoy: Okay, sometimes a Grumpy Hero can overdo the crankiness, I grant you. But this doctor’s first concern is for his shipmates, and mere rank or danger to himself doesn’t faze him in his ministrations. DeForest Kelley (the first and best McCoy) wore a pinkie ring; Google the story on that, if that’s your thing. It’s a d’awww.

Hellboy: Bear down—I’m about to say something extra-non-PC: Some people just look fuckin’ cool when they smoke. Hellboy is one of them. Hey, it’s not like it’s gonna kill him. Besides, a good cigar goes well with beer after a day of kicking in para-dimensional heads and making sardonic remarks. On the other hand (inside joke there), he loves cats and has a tender touch with babies… the big red galoot.

Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln: Tommy Lee Jones (accompanied by an unfortunate wig) fights the good fight in Civil War-era Congress. He doesn’t go about it in a gentle or even gentlemanly manner, but his heart’s in the right place—for a reason I won’t divulge here. Honorable Mention: Agent K. What a tightass, amirite? Yet he takes Agent J under his wing, more than once. Argh, the feels…

Alan Shore: I haven’t watched Boston Legal in forever, but seeing James Spader joyously disappear into his role in Lincoln brought my love for this quirky misanthrope back to the surface. Shore is unethical, kinda slimy… and will brilliantly defend good people who otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance in our so-called justice system. Besides, you can’t not smile whenever he and Denny Crane put heads together. Good times!

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Mona Treme sees a lot of evidence that [insert deity’s name here] has a sense of humor, and not just in the mirror.