Life, Writing

In Defense of Chuck Bartowski

Last weekend, I went out to dinner with some friends after an hour of kayaking. It just so happened that all the other girls had decided to head home, so dinner turned out to be me and five young single guys from my church. The most fun part of this was sitting in on “guy talk,” during which I might as well have been invisible while they contended that girls like this and girls like that, never bothering to ask me “So, do girls actually like hairy guys?”

I couldn’t help jumping in at last when the topic of “bad guys” came up. Why, they wondered, do girls like the dangerous, edgy guys? I had two answers for them–mystery, and the desire to repair.

The mystery part is usually assumed, I think. There’s a certain intrigue to the uncertainty of a darker personality–it’s fascinating. It draws us in. We want to explore and understand it. But I don’t often hear people mention the other aspect.

Women like to fix people.

It’s not entirely a bad thing. Women are created as helpers and nurturers. They’re designed to make their men and their children better. A large aspect of their driving purpose is to take care of people. It’s a beautiful thing. But like all good tendencies, it can go into overdrive and become a need for neediness–an addiction to the feeling of fixing someone.

Intrigue and power. It’s an intoxicating combination. It’s why so many women would take an Edward Cullen or a Mr. Rochester over a Chuck Bartowski or a Rory Williams. The idea that you could tame this wild, exciting, unpredictable man is thrilling to a girl. Bring on the challenge!

The fantasy, unfortunately, doesn’t mirror the reality. In real life, bloodthirsty hundred-year-old-vampires will always be bloodthirsty-hundred-year-old vampires. And bad-tempered verbally abusive men who court you while still married to someone else will probably remain bad-tempered verbally abusive men willing to pursue someone else while married. Heathcliff will still be a destructive psychopath. Mr. Darcy won’t stop being dark and proud and brooding. I don’t mean to say people can’t change. They can. And women do have great God-given power to do good in the lives of their men. But ultimately, a woman doesn’t change a man’s heart or his innate character. That’s between him and God.

Meet, instead, Chuck Bartowski. Chuck is a nice guy. He lives with his sister. He works at the fictional equivalent of a Best Buy. He respects the women around him. He does just so happen to be a spy, but he’s often not a very good one because he isn’t okay with people becoming collateral damage along the way. He’s not what you’d call dashing, or mysterious, or especially fascinating. He doesn’t really need to be fixed. He’s already a good guy with grounded principles. Not perfect. But a sweet, simple guy, trying his hardest to be good in a complicated world.

I know I, for one, would rather see more of this kind of love interest in the movies and shows I watch. I’d rather see more of Rory Williams, the everyman whose only real claim to greatness is his quiet faithfulness to those he loves.

You can keep your Edwards, your Heathcliffs, your James Bonds, and all your tortured heroes waiting for their one woman to come and be the beauty to their beast, the savior who can pull them from the mire of their own darkness.

I’ll take Chuck Bartowski any day.

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