[mad men]

Rick Sanchez, Don Draper, and BoJack Horseman are three examples of a popular male character trope: the intelligent, talented, toxic, disconnected, detached man who fails to connect with others and is consistently and wildly self destructive in his quest to fill an emotional void with anything but human connection.

The problem with this character archetype lies with the fans, insofar as a lot of people, a specific subset of men in particular, miss the entire point of the character.

They’re so easily sucked in by the flashy veneer of masculine bravado on the surface of these damaged characters that they fail to understand why the characters are presented this way: you do not want to be like them. You are not supposed to identify with them positively or see them as someone to emulate, you are not supposed to sincerely root for them to win most of the time, they are antiheros.

In spite of being the protagonist Rick, Don, and BoJack are almost never the “good guy” in any given scenario, they are almost always selfishly motivated, and explicitly harming innocent people for their own gain. The rare moments of redemption usually don’t last.

Idolizing and lionizing these characters as an ideal or something to aspire to entirely misses the concept of the characters, and worse, celebrates behavior that is explicitly shown to be toxic and harmful.

If you identify as “a Rick” then the entire concept of the show has gone completely over your head. The creators of all three shows position their characters clearly, and get more blatant with each season.

To be clear, seeing negative traits in yourself and identifying with the struggle to improve them, or wanting these characters to change and grow is not what we’re referring to here, but rather the explicit support for and celebration of these characters as they are. This isn’t even a critique of the characters themselves. All of whom are well written, interesting, and complex, but rather it’s a critique of how we see and interpret these characters. This archetype applies to many characters like Sherlock, House, and Archer, and is also mirrored in family members like Beth to Rick or Mycroft to Sherlock. Liking these characters is fine. Enjoying them ia fine, but acknowledge what they are.