The Bad Boy
What is the unassailable appeal of the Bad Boy? Is it his elusiveness? His edge? The fact that he cannot be “had” no matter what? Why are some of us drawn to the Bad Boy, and keep going back for more?
Does that mean the Bad Boy is bound to meet his match in a Bad Girl, or is he more likely to chase the Unattainable Woman, as he himself remains beyond reach?
I found myself restless and wordless last evening, searching for escape on cable. I stumbled across Season 3 of Showtime’s series, Californication, which I had never seen. I was hooked in minutes, polishing off all the episodes late last night, and in the predawn hours of morning.
My initial reaction was pure fascination: the characters are lovably weird, the ensemble cast incredible (David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Kathleen Turner), and the writing is original, clever, and deliciously daring.
Yet what struck me most was the impossibly entangled relationships of Duchovny’s character, Hank Moody. He’s the epitome of the rakish yet reprehensible ladies man, the winsome cad, the perpetual man-child, the self-destructing-before-your-eyes genius artist. He is the sexy train wreck who can’t get out of his own way. Nor can he keep it zipped, as women seduce him more often than the other way around.
The Bad Boy at his most dangerous
Duchovny as Hank Moody offers the Bad Boy at his most (tantalizingly) dangerous. And sexy. His good heart and talent enhance his charisma; the self-destructive bent and lack of self-control make reliability and trust virtually impossible. Passion? Boatloads. Adoration and appreciation for women? Without question, however transient.
Yet Californication’s fatally flawed hero still loves (and pursues) his here-again-gone-again smart and stunning wife (Natascha McElhone), as she remains at careful remove, keeping him hanging, mesmerized, and herself, moderately protected.
Bad Boy behaviors
The Bad Boy comes in variations: charming, indifferent, misogynistic, outrageous, arrogant. He may be troubled and substance-abusing (as in Californication), albeit endearing at times. He may flaunt disregard for convention, in classic Bad Boy rocker style (think explosive performer Iggy Pop). Any number of music, film, and sports stars fall into this category, and have for generations. He may be dangerous – genuinely so – prone to violence.
The Bad Boy promises treacherous territory for those who care for him, or expect too much. Unpredictability, brilliance, power, and potent sexuality form an intoxicating cocktail, frequently coupled with drugs and alcohol. But relationship? Doomed to a roller coaster ride, at best.
The combination of vulnerability and rebellion, in an appealing package, is a magnet for many women and perhaps the ultimate for some – an addictive pattern which is hard to break.
What about good guys?
Bad boys are exciting, but for all the disarming boyishness, the edgy unpredictability, the rugged red zone hotness, we have ample examples that they don’t do relationships. Not well, unless you want to share not only their bodies but their hearts, along with constant worry as destructive habits lead to increasingly damaging consequences.
I’ve had my own encounters with the Bad Boys, of the more benign (Hank Moody) sort. And found my way to desiring Good Guys (with a dash of edge) as I’ve matured.
- Do we all pass through a Bad Boy / Bad Girl stage, and then move on?
- Are you drawn to this type, over and over, slowly self-destructing in unsatisfying relationships?
- Is that what it takes to break the pattern – recognizing that you’re being pulled down – before seeing the quality of the Good Guy?
- Does the Bad Boy retain his devastating allure no matter what?