And the Savants Shall Save Us

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 CleaverBeav” 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.

EvansThe 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.

MurrayAnother “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.

david_hyde_pierceIn 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.

matthew-gray-gubler-460241lAnother 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.

jim_parsons_imageLast 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.


Gratuitous Hinds pic

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


9 thoughts on “And the Savants Shall Save Us

  1. Robin Helm

    I really like Spencer Reid. The other two – not so much. Reid is never a smart aleck. He usually seems rather surprised that everyone doesn’t know what he does. He also is in no way a ladies’ man, though I think many women would find him attractive. I like his hair better shorter.

    I still like the manly men. I want men to act like men.


    1. Susan Kaye Post author


      I like Reid. He’s everyone’s little brother. I do wonder how they will deal with his first love interest being killed in his presence. Let’s hope that doesn’t become a trigger and Criminal Minds becomes a twin of the show Dexter.


  2. C. Allyn Pierson

    I, too, prefer my men to be “guys” and am not attracted to men who look like they will never be able to grow a beard and will look like they are 16 even when they are 30. Yes, there are imperfections in “guys”, they often throw their dirty clothes on the floor and do other mildly annoying things, but you can trust them to back you up in a tight spot. If I am tied up on the railroad tracks and the train is coming I don’t want someone having a neurotic discussion with their left thumbnail over whether they should risk their life to try and save me…I want them to jump in, hack the ropes off with their pocketknife (or a sharp rock…or their teeth) and pull me off the tracks. Now that, my friends, is a GUY.
    Now, I must confess that I have my fair share of guy characteristics- I never played with dolls- my sister and I played with toy cars and made crayon roads for them to drive on- I’m not afraid of critters (I was always the designated vermin remover in my family) and I have been known to stomp on mice invading my house. But I am still not a guy and I like to have someone around who can open those jars that my hands aren’t strong enough to open and to help bring up the fake Xmas tree that is too heavy and awkward for me to handle.
    Another point is that you don’t have to be neurotic or psychologically twisted to be intelligent. My spouse is extremely intelligent about math, physics and other obscure science fields, as well as an excellent eye surgeon who has a very good bedside manner. In addition, he is a fanatical tennis player and is nationally ranked in the 55 and over age group. My eldest son is smarter than both his parents put together and would classify himself as a geek, but in high school he was on the tennis and swim teams (and went to state twice with the tennis team, debated, sang in choir, and was in all the plays and musicals. He majored in Honors Biology in college and minored in both Vocal Music and Theater and is now getting an MD and a PhD at one of the top medical schools in the country. He looks far more like Michelangelo’s David than he does Niles Crane (but he is not 17 feet tall…) My men are both intellectuals and brilliant scholars and yet they are also “guys”.

    I think it is great that TV is making it more acceptable to be a geek or not quite fit into the mold society tries to force the square pegs into, but at this point I am beginning to feel like they have gone so far over to the “geeks are great” side that they are just making different shaped holes for the square pegs to be forced into. That square peg will not fit into an octagonal hole any better than it did into the round one.


    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      I too kill my own vermin and insects, however I don’t wrestle the Christmas tree. I do have my standards. And I am not ashamed to use the “I’m a girl” opt-out card when I feel like it. Though, turning 55 this year puts me in the double card class and I can use sex or age to get out of stuff I don’t like.

      Thanks for stopping by, Carey.


      1. C. Allyn Pierson

        I turned 55 this year, too, but I have been using the age card for the past 5 years! I had light switch that broke a few weeks ago, leaving the fan running in a bathroom, so I took out the switch and disconnected it, got a new switch and replaced it…one more DIY task learned!


        1. Susan Kaye Post author

          I don’t mess with electricity, but I am a deconstruction genius. The age/female card is used with no regard to continuity and my husband understands this.


    2. Laura Hile

      I’m with you, Carey. I live with guys, a husband and grown sons who are never home — one college-age and two working-to-paying-off-college-loans, career-ladder-climbing graduates.

      I am the one who hunts down spiders, I am the one who fixes things that break. Even so, like you, I want a guy to be a guy. As much as I would like to have raised sensitive, artistic sons, they weren’t having any. Such an endeavor would be classed (by them) to be an “epic fail.” Ha, when my middle son (at four) encountered a Barbie doll, he pulled the head off and made it into a gun.



Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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