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Why Women Nowadays Are Attracted To Manic Pixie Dream Boys — But We're Not Sure They Even Exist

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In 2005, film critic Nathan Rabin assigned a definition to a type of character that seemed to be everywhere in early-aughts indie films — the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. 

This girl is unlike any other girl. She’s just so different, so cool. She has a free spirit, one she shares with the male main character, who, through her existence, learns how to love again, and thus, fully understands the ephemeral nature of existence.

According to Rabin’s own analysis, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s sole purpose on screen was to “teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” 

The trope of Manic Pixie Dream Girl is well-worn territory, a term that’s existed in the pop-culture zeitgeist for almost 20 years. Now, a slightly altered iteration of this type is emerging, as many women are praising the existence of the Manic Pixie Dream Boy.

Now, more than ever, women are attracted to Manic Pixie Dream Boys, but it’s unclear if they really exist.

Maybe you can picture the type. He’s a guy with long-ish hair and willowy limbs. His eyes could be any color, as long as they reflect the depths of secrets he holds inside himself. Maybe he smokes cigarettes as he drinks black coffee, vinyl spinning in the background.

He’s beautiful and he’s artistic and he's sensitive. He really gets you, like no one else has before.

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If Hollywood offers a reflection of what American society values at any given moment, it’s clear that the rise of Manic Pixie Dream Boys as the newest form of heartthrob has arrived. Yet it’s possible that this type of guy is a fabrication, a projected and idealized version of what women want.

A woman named Mel Jayne titled a TikTok post, “Timothée Chalamet Is Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Boy,” which dives into the roots of this phenomenon.

Jayne used Chalamet’s romance with Kylie Jenner as a jumping-off point for her conversation, saying, “There is this prevailing narrative about Timothée Chalamet, that he’s this Manic Pixie Dream Boy, an intellectual, an artiste… and that he is ‘above her’ in some kind of way.”



She credited Greta Gerwig, Hollywood, and Chalamet’s PR team for convincing women across the world that the 27-year-old actor is somehow Not Like The Other Guys. Jayne took the opposite stance, exclaiming, “The reality is, I think he’s just some guy.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being just some guy,” she clarified. “But at the end of the day, he’s a young, hot, Nepo baby, dating another young, hot Nepo baby.”

Jayne refuted the idea that Chalamet is anything but a strong-jawed, A-list actor, who dates a particular type of woman, noting, “He’s not gonna date an independent bookstore owner or a beat poet or fall in love with Sue Anne, the girl next door, whose main hobbies are doing oil paintings of sunflowers and volunteering at the nursing home.”

“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this,” she finished. “But you know I’m right, anyway.”

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Another woman on TikTok named Verity Ellis (@thedatingconnoisserxo) made a stitch video with Jayne’s post, excavating the concept of Manic Pixie Dream Boys even further. She named Chalamet as a “pioneer of the pack,” then listed off other male celebrities who fit the definition of Manic Pixie Dream Boy, including Harry Styles, Machine Gun Kelly, and Matty Healy. 

She characterized Manic Pixie Dream Boys as “aloof, mysterious, out of the ordinary creatives who typically appear to look like tortured souls, and they’re just irresistible.”



She maintained that there is something different about these men, in that they blur the lines of a more typical masculinity by taking elements of femininity and making them their own. Think: Harry Styles wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue, his painted nails and the pearls strung around his neck.

According to the interpretation of Ellis, “They really push the boundaries of what it looks like in society to be masculine, they’re not your regular, like, 6 foot, 6 pack, ‘alpha male’ types… there’s just something about them.”

You’ll know you’ve seen a Manic Pixie Dream Boy in the wild, she maintained, “because you’ll be like, ‘Is it just me, or does anyone else find him attractive?’ And that’s when you’ll know you’ve come across a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, because you’ll be questioning.”

“So many girls do it with Harry Styles,” she explained further, noting that women ask each other if they find Styles attractive, or if they’re “just weird” for thinking he’s so very dreamy. 

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“He’s like, dancing around in women’s clothes, do you find him attractive?” She imagined one woman asking another, and offered the answer, “You’re not weird. He is attractive. This is a type.”

“They are attractive,” she reiterated. “They know what they’re doing.”

That’s the thing about Manic Pixie Dream Boys — they know exactly what they’re doing. Maybe they are just so sensitive, but they also know they’re sensitive, and they know that women want that, so they’ll use their emotional depth as an entry point into women’s worlds.

At the crux of their being, Manic Pixie Dream Boys differ from Manic Pixie Dream Girls, because they’re still the main characters of their worlds.

The women fawning over them exist just off to the side. They’re the accessory, the ones telling the guys how great they are.

In a 2014 essay for Salon, Rabin revealed that he felt a “queasy disbelief” for the way his term Manic Pixie Dream Girl stuck in pop-culture. He wrote that it’s an archetype “that taps into a particular male fantasy: of being saved from depression and ennui by a fantasy woman who sweeps in like a glittery breeze to save you from yourself, then disappears once her work is done.”

“It makes women seem less like autonomous, independent entities than appealing props to help mopey, sad white men self-actualize,” he concluded.  

Manic Pixie Dream Boys don’t fall victim to the same fate as their female counterparts. They don’t have to disappear at the end. They still get to own the story.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.