Is this the end of nice characters?

I read a book recently, Maggie’s Man, by Alicia Scott, an early pen name of Lisa Gardner, who is one of my favourite authors by the way. I can’t pretend it was the book of the century, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I went on to post a review on Goodreads (because now I know how important reviews are for writers) and I peeked at the others reviews while I was there. What I found didn’t surprise me, as much as it saddened me.
You see, the heroine of Maggie’s Man loves her cats, she loves people, she does her bit for charity… And most readers hated her. Why? Because she was a nice girl.

And nowadays, nice equals boring, irritating and dumb.

Here are some of the comments I read:

“She’s slow, dim witted and I’m pretty sure that her mama dropped her on her head multiple times as a baby! I got maybe 2 chapters into this book, maybe 3, before I gave up on her and her stupid. And yes, it is necessary to re-iterate how STUPID she is as many time’s as possible!”
“Dumb,dumb,dumb -both the book and the characters.”
“Unfortunately I didn’t connect well with Maggie – she was far, far too good.”
“What I can’t stand is that retro heroine sounds like a whiny dishrag.”

This isn’t the first time I hear of nice characters receiving so much hate, and I think it’s sad that the women readers seem to be on the forefront of this wave. I could give you tons of characters names from television, books and movies that a lot of people can’t stand, yet their only flaw is too be…well, too good.

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The rise of the bad ass, both male and female, has overwhelmed our society. Bad boys and bad girls are coooool, I’ll let you know. So cool that even the good guy has to show a darker side, and his opponent, the villain, is now the one who receives all the adoration and adulation from fans.

The sensitive heroes and feminine heroines of yesteryear are long gone. Men need to be ultra dominant and embrace their Alpha side and women need to be, well, Alphas too.

It’s a tough world we live in. Only the strongest will survive and it seems it is reflected in our tastes of those characters who take what they want, when they want, without a care of repercussions. They make us dream. They make us wish that we, too, could do what they’re doing.

Yet in contrast, people in real life prefer surrounding themselves with the good people, don’t they? The ones who listen patiently to your sad stories at 5am. The ones who hug you when you feel low. The ones who encourage you when you’re in doubt. The ones who will leave the last cookie to you. Strangely, those people are not boring, or irritating or dumb.

I do miss the old movies and TV series where everyone got along and lived in a fluffy pink world, and where the villains weren’t put on a pedestal. They don’t make them anymore. Such a shame.

Nice guys/girls always lose. It’s never been truer.

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Is this the end of nice characters?

  1. I don’t really like the whole hype and focus on “strong” character and “bad” boys and girls. And in love triangles it always seems to be the nice guy who loses. I prefer realistic characters, that’s what’s most important to me. I want to like the characters and feel like they could be real people. I think normal people do make mistakes, they don’t always stand up for what they believe in or fight for what they want and that’s okay.
    Although I also enjoy a good story with an alpha male now and then, I especially love the books with realistic characters and all their flaws and characteristics.
    On the topic of villains, I love it when an author can write a villain well, make us understand why they are the villain and what they are fighting for. I am a big fan of shades of grey in a book and I like seeing what makes the villain tick as well.

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    1. Love triangles! You’re right, the nice guy always ends up losing the girl to his bad boy rival. I also agree on villains who aren’t *totally* bad. Realistic characters speak to me the most too, rather the boring, all-perfect man/woman.

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  2. I’ve mulled on this post for days, and still I have nothing intelligent to say! 😀 But one of my favourite authors cautioned other authors about making their characters too good. He said readers can believe any depth of depravity in a villain, but goodness quickly becomes too much.

    I’m thinking it may be connected to the whistleblower phenomenon. On the surface, we love a whistleblower. They’re a hero. But people close to the whistleblower tend to hate them, because their heroism casts everyone else in a bad light. Maybe that’s what’s at play here? If a character comes off as too good, readers feel bad about themselves and turn it around by blaming the character.

    I could also draw political conclusions, but I’m not gonna, because I want your blog to stay sweet! 🙂

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