I spend a lot of time looking at the women of TV and they way various female characters have influenced and inspire me. But that’s not the only way TV can impact or reveal our beliefs and desires for ourselves. We can also learn about what we look for in a partner by the characters we develop fictional crushes on. We can start to recognize patterns (either physical or personality-based) and it can help us refine or better understand what it is we like. It’s a topic that satisfies my introspective nature as well as lets me focus on characters who I like because they make me happy.
My two current fictional crushes are Jack Hodgins from Bones and Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation. They have a lot in common, so I thought I would discuss them together and explain what makes me so drawn to them.
One of the traits that most defines both Hodgins and Ben is their passion and excitement for things. Nothing in this world, other than Angela and their son, will ever make Hodgins happier than a rare bug found at a crime scene or a new experiment he gets to try. His love for bugs runs so deep that only was he not grossed out by the fact that he was acting as a host for them after a bug laid eggs in his neck, but he was genuinely honored to have that privilege. It wasn’t a physically comfortable process but he recognized that it was necessary for the bugs and was happy and willing to be a part of it. He’s passionate about science and the work that they do about the Jeffersonian and it comes out in every scene he’s in.
Ben gets genuinely excited about numbers and solving problems with accounting. He’s also a huge, unapologetic nerd and he gets really excited about Batman, Game of Thrones, board games, Claymation and his Star Trek fanfiction. He embraces the things he loves and gets so much enjoyment out of them that you can’t help but love it.
Another defining, shared trait is that they are genuinely good guys who care deeply about the people around them. They would both do anything to help a friend and are very open with their friendship. Hodgins has taken many of the squinterns under his wing and helps them learn and succeed in the field. He always seems happy to be working with them and with Wendell in particular, their bond goes far beyond work.
Other than Leslie and Ann, the next most enduring friendship on Parks and Rec was between Ben and Chris and their friendship was nothing short of beautiful. For many years, all they had was each other and as they found Pawnee and new people to share their lives with, that bond was never diminished. Recently, Ben has also become the only person involved in the Parks and Rec department who genuinely likes Jerry’s company and considers him to be a friend and most importantly, isn’t afraid to admit it.
Finally, they are very much in love with their respective wives. They are in relationships full of mutual respect and admiration and are almost painfully cute in romantic moments. More than that, their relationships work because they just genuinely like the other person and spending time with them. Ben and Leslie’s saying “I love you and I like you” applies equally well for both them and Hodgins and Angela and that will always be my favorite type of relationship.
While it certainly doesn’t hurt that they are both played by attractive individuals (seriously, look at TJ Thyne’s beautiful eyes), that’s not what makes me love these two characters so much. I admire and am drawn to their passions, their love for their friends, and their relationships with their wives. Unsurprisingly, those are all traits shared by my actual fiance so I feel confident in saying that my real-life preferences strongly influence my on-screen preferences, at least as far as crushes go.
Who are some of your fictional crushes, past or present? What do you think they say about what you value in a romantic partner?