solid no- Mumford, Almost Famous, The Good Girl, The New Guy, All The Real Girls, Elf, Eulogy, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Winter Passing, Surf’s Up, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Tin Man, The Happening, Your Highness
borderline no- Manic, Abandon, Big Trouble, Failure to Launch, Bridge to Terabithia, Our Idiot Brother
borderline yes- The Good Life, The Go-Getter, (500) Days of Summer, New Girl
yes- Weeds, Gigantic, Yes Man
So I know that my vlog has been a bit free form up till now and for the most part I intend to keep it that way, but alongside my usual “whatever I feel like talking about whenever I feel like talking about it” videos I’m going to start a more structured project called Spelunking into Pixie Dream Girl Mania. In these videos I’m going to undertake an in depth exploration of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope as it appears in Zooey Deschanel’s oevere.
Why Zooey Deschanel? Well there have been some blog posts within my radar range that have been talking about Zooey and issues related to the manic pixie dream girl trope in her career. In a lot of the conversations people seemed to be taking for granted that Zooey had appeared in “A LOT” of roles that are based on the trope. In a thread on Shakesville KT5000 (who is also responsible for the awesome project title by the way) asked “Has ZD really played a LOT of MPDG roles, in the sense that one could accuse her of disproportionally capitalizing on doing the same thing over and over?” This question sparked my interest and I set out to attempt to answer it with statistics. The statistics that I came up with are approximate, but I’m going to present them in this video as a starting point.
I went through Zooey’s filmography as listed on Wikipedia and using wikipedia plot summaries and articles from TVTropes attempted to categorize each of her roles. I excluded roles that I could not find sufficient information to make a determination on leaving me with 27 roles out of the 43 listed. For these 27 roles I answered the question “Is the character a manic pixie dream girl?” with one of four possible responses: yes, no, borderline yes, or borderline no. It is important to note that I was going off of my general sense of what constitutes a MPDG character and not judging against a prepared rubric of traits. This is a methodological flaw that I will be addressing in my follow up video. I came up with 3 solid and 4 borderline yes’s and 14 solid and 6 borderline no’s. This comes up to approximately 11-26% Manic Pixie Dream Girls roles and 52-74% non MPDG roles. For these percentages the higher is based on both the solid and borderline together while the lower is based on only the solid classifications. My classifications of her roles are listed by title in the video notes.
While these numbers provide a fairly rough and approximate picture of the frequency with which Zooey has played Manic Pixie Dream Girl characters, they do show that far fewer of her roles use the trope than might be expected given her reputation in pop culture. Still, this is only a rough statistical analysis based largely on summaries as I haven’t seen many of Zooey’s appearances myself. For a complete picture I plan to outline a methodology and then go through her filmography scoring each role for level of manic pixie dream girl-ishness. The next video in this series will outline my planned methodology. and be followed be individual reviews of her roles.
This is Dream, signing off.