Even though most Hollywood players consider themselves socially progressive, meaning they support, inter alia, same-sex marriage, women’s rights, the Prius, your taxes paying for everyone else’s health care, the idea of minorities, and Christian/Christianity-bashing, they can often be downright Paleolithic when it comes to depicting romance onscreen. It’s astounding to me how often biological truth trickles through the ideology. Yes, there are still people trying and failing to make The Michael Cera into a romantic trope, but for the most part, when the writers of a film or television show are trying to put two characters together, they’re going to incorporate elements of Game, especially if the protagonist is a woman. Despite all of the social inculcating from kindergarten on that “boys and girls are equal,” NO ONE, not even Progressive Hollywood, truly believes that a woman is capable of falling in love with a submissive man. This is why you will see a lot of sitcoms with doofus, no-Game husbands and smart wives – but you won’t ever see a show about how a smart woman falls in love with a doofus, no-Game man. (If one manages to make it to the air, it will not last long.) If the marriage is already established, it is taken for granted that at some point in the past, the man had enough Game to get the woman to marry him, and it is equally taken for granted that he then deteriorated into a hapless beta schlub.
But when a show is trying to get two characters together, you can be sure that elements of Game will weave their way into the storyline. If the show has a “will they/won’t they” premise, the writers will give an alpha male character some super beta moments to prevent it from being utterly ridiculous that the female character hasn’t jumped him yet. (See: Bones.) If the male character is a beta underdog that we’re supposed to root for, he will be given occasional alpha moments to prick the female into alertness, then re-beta-ize him to make the female character forget her attraction. (See: Ross and Rachel on Friends.) Conversely, an alpha female will almost always show vulnerability to the male character before they get together. She will be TOUGH TOUGH TOUGH – and then share a feeling and/or cry in front of the male. A beta female, on the other hand, will become more sexy and beautiful and the male character will suddenly see her in a new light. (This is usually accomplished by sending the characters to a dance, wedding, or other fancy outing.)
So what kind of Game tricks does Hollywood pull out when they need a male character to alpha up? Well, the easiest, most obvious way is through looks: the heroine usually ends up with the best-looking guy. Granted, in Hollywood productions, everyone is attractive, even the unattractive people. Someone who is supposed to be average-looking in a TV show is still better-looking than an average-looking regular person. So looks aren’t usually so much a factor, unless the show is pitting a Hollywood average guy against a Hollywood handsome guy.
But even Hollywood average guys can get the girl with Game, and no greater tool can a Hollywood average guy wield than the Neg. Shorter than the rival? Doesn’t matter. Not as built? Doesn’t matter. Not as handsome? Doesn’t matter. A Hollywood average guy with masterful negging powers is pretty much guaranteed to get the girl at some point down the road, which brings me to my example.
The Body Politic was a twentysomething political drama pilot made for The CW for the 2009/10 television season – a sort of CW-ized West Wing for the TXT-generation. Featuring a very attractive cast of young actors (The CW’s specialty), it got positive reviews from just about every outlet that sampled it. Alas, it did not go to series, but a series of clips from the pilot did make it onto YouTube. I then tracked down the leaked presentation (the 30-minute version of the pilot; if the show had been picked up, the remaining scenes would have been produced).
In addition to establishing who all the characters were, the show spent quite a bit of time setting up a love triangle between Minka Kelly’s newbie Senatorial intern Frankie, Jason Dohring’s ambitious reporter Charlie, and Jay Hernandez’s war hero/staffer Ben. I usually find love triangles hit or miss because of the tendency to make them very lopsided, with the eventual victor so obviously a superior choice that the whole thing is a waste of time. This set-up, however, seemed kind of interesting because of the guys. Dohring and Hernandez provide a very good example of Hollywood average guy vs. Hollywood handsome guy. Hernandez, while a bit shorter than Dohring, has a stronger jawline, squarer face, and more athletic build. Introduced in military dress, he’s clearly supposed to be the alpha. Dohring, on the other hand, doesn’t look athletic at all, lacks a lantern jaw, and isn’t handsome. Physically beta. Yet I though it was pretty obvious that Frankie would eventually end up with Charlie (though not without a detour with Ben first), and all because Charlie drops some perfectly delivered negs on her in the first clip we see. And Frankie shit tests Charlie five times in a row. And is giving him the eyes. Check it out for yourself. Also worth noting is the AMOG battle between Charlie and Ben.
It would have been interesting to see how the show handled the progression of this love triangle. My guess is that Frankie would have followed her hypergamous impulses and fallen into Ben’s alpha arms, only to feel she had a stronger emotional connection to Charlie. But that’s all in the ether now, isn’t it?