What makes the perfect male lead? This is a controversial topic, particularly in the young adult blogosphere. Some guys are not desirable enough. Some are too desirable, too perfect, too idealized. What, exactly, are the rules of attraction?
Everyone will have a different answer to this question, because everyone is attracted to different things. I can only attempt to explain my rules of attraction, by analyzing my favourite couples, and discovering what it is I like most in male characters.
The first thing that comes to mind is vulnerability. I love, love, love vulnerable guys. For example, I don't watch The Vampire Diaries, but I always check in on it just to see Jeremy and Bonnie's relationship. I love Jeremy because he is so nervous, so unsure, so vulnerable. When he finally kisses Bonnie, he waits to see her reaction. When she smiles at him, he looks so shocked and relieved. I eat that right up. Just like the next week, when he asked Bonnie if she liked the kiss. So cute. Melts me to the ground.
I wrote a post a while back about how I didn't like "bad boy" characters, and I think this why. Bad boys are always so confident. They make the protagonist come to them, not the other way around. Jess made Rory practically beg him. He wasn't vulnerable, most of the time. I'm not attracted to confidence like that. So, for me, vulnerability is the first ingredient.
I also like boys who are unique. I cannot stand generic guys. To me, there is almost nothing worse than a male lead that has blond hair and blue eyes. He's just too perfect. In that way, I agree with the people who complain about idealized guys. They're boring. Too easy. Too bland.
In Hellcats, I barely pay attention to Dan. He's just so stock, so stereotypical. Like Evan on Greek. Or Carter on Make It or Break It. Or Nate from Gossip Girl. Or Finn from Glee. They are too generic, too easy to like. They're not memorable. I like a guy who is unique, who has faults. I would much rather have an interesting guy that a perfect one.
Chuck, for instance, isn't perfect. My god, he can be an awful, awful person, selling Blair for a hotel. But, at least, he's different. He doesn't look like everyone else, and he doesn't act like them either. He's his own character. Or, of course, Cappie. He's immature and irresponsible, but he's also hilarious, and loyal, and passionate. He's always Cappie, always unique. He doesn't always do the right thing, but at least he's not afraid to break the mould.
In terms of stereotypical guys, I have already rejected the bad boy and the perfect guy. I also detest the jock, no matter how nice they try to make him, and the male slut, no matter how many times he may pledge to love the main character. The biggest stereotype I buy into is the geeky/nerdy guy. I always fall for him. First, because they are usually very vulnerable characters. They aren't very popular, and they usually don't get the girl. And I love them for that.
I also love them for their intelligence and their awkwardness, two things I can relate to. I love Michael for his brilliance, but also for how long he waits for Mia. I love the end of the second book, when he has such a hard time telling Mia he likes her dress. Just like I love Dexter in This Lullaby because he's always so clumsy, with so much nervous energy. I'm always pulling for the nerd, because I can understand him, relate to him. I think we all can, at some point or another.
Another quality I always fall for is earnestness. I adore a guy who can love his girl full forced, not caring about showing too much emotion or revealing too much. Not crying, by any means (though a guy can cry anytime he wants, with no judgement from me), but real, genuine love.
The best example I can think of is Damon from Make It or Break It, specifically, the end of the first season, when he sings the song for Emily and does the radio interview. He admits to the whole world that he loves her. And he's not ashamed, not embarrassed. He's truthful, earnest. No wonder I am salivating waiting for the new season of MIOBI to come on!
I'm usually not into huge romantic gestures. I like the last scene of Anna and the French Kiss, rather than the get together scene. It's less dramatic sure, but it's also so much more real.
I guess that's all I'm really looking for. A vulnerable guy, with faults and self-doubts, just like everyone else. A unique guy, who'd actually be interesting to talk to, fun to be around. A smart, awkward guy, who I can relate to. An earnest, truly romantic man I can fall for. In short, someone who's real, for better or for worse.
I don't think I ever found a character that meets all those requirements. Seely Booth is close. Michael Moscovitz is close.
But the real question is: Will I ever find a man like them in real life?