One of the reasons I love writing Frederick Wentworth is that he’s a “guy.” I love “guys.” My husband is a guy, my brother is a guy, my son is a guy. By “guy” I don’t mean a male of the species. To me a guy is pretty much what we saw on TV twenty-five or thirty years ago. We know that Ward Cleaver, father of “the Beav” was an office worker, but I’d say he was a “guy.” He mowed his own lawn, changed his own oil, and when June called he came to her rescue and killed the spider in the bathtub. And he did it knowing that either 1) she was really deathly afraid of spiders, or 2) she was perfectly capable of killing the little beggars herself but gave him a chance to be a little heroic.
The show Good Times is another example. James Evans is a guy, living in the projects of Chicago, just trying to make a living to keep body and soul together. Though he’s living on the dole, he’s still the man of the family and he’s shouldering the responsibility of a family. That’s a guy.
Another “guy” was Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He was played by Gavin MacCloed who later became Captain Stubing on The Love Boat. He’s a professional writer but he wasn’t afraid to wear those stretchy sweaters and wild polyester shirts.
Watching television these days, it’s all about savants. Merriam-Webster defines a savant as : a person of learning; especially : one with detailed knowledge in some specialized field (as of science or literature). They are everywhere. My favorite show, The Big Bang Theory is crawling with them.
This got me to thinking about the progression of the savant-ish character.
In the beginning we had Niles Crane, played by David Hyde Pierce, of Fraiser fame. In situation comedies the protagonist’s foil is usually someone who is the opposite in most every way. Fraiser turned this on it’s head by making Fraiser’s foil his brother who is, if possible more pedantic and anal than he. It makes for a great deal of fun.
Another savant, this one in a currently running drama, is Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds. Reid is played by Matthew Gray Gubler. Funny how his looks like David Hyde Pierce. Reid has an I. Q. of over 180, is socially inept, and has a schizoid mother quietly living her fantasy in his hometown of Las Vegas.
Last but never least is Dr. Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons, of The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon too has a huge I. Q., ego to match, a strange mother, and some OCD tics that make the denizens of the show Hoarders seem positively normal.
At some point Parsons needs to get a third name, but doesn’t he look remarkable like the other two? Perhaps Niles Crane had a wild past and after hooking up with another trope of fiction, the wildly intelligent but jaded prostitute, Reid and Cooper were born. Who knows. How come “guys” don’t all look alike? Are we sliding into a fad where slight, pale males are the most desirable mates? I hope not.
Anyway, the way fiction is going now it’s the savants that will save us. I’m sticking with the likes of Frederick Wentworth. Guys will win out in the long run.
Take care–Susan Kaye