i think the most egregious example of the manic pixie dream girl trope was this play i but I just remembered seeing it, several years ago…
it was about this sad-sack guy driving across the country to try and reunite his old band for one last show
he’s accompanied by this girl who he was in the band with, back in the day… and he was in love with her then, and she’s cool & smart & funny & talks only to him for the entire play, even when the rest of the band joins him on the drive
& at the end of the play it turns out that she was a ghost the whole time, nobody else in the play could see or hear her, & the ‘last show’ he kept referring to is actually going to be her funeral wake bcs she died..
That her ghost had accompanied them on this trip bcs he was grieving & she wanted to help him let go of her…
which, you know, was a surprise & it was really emotional & legit the play was pretty good
But I just started thinking about it randomly…
And I keep being struck by the fact that the play only works if the entire audience is so used to the idea that a female character would literally only speak to the main male character for the entire length of a narrative.
Would only converse with him, interact with him, even when there were other people around.
That even as he talked about what he was doing next, she never discussed their future goals. She never touched any props or anyone other than him.
That nothing she did or said would genuinely have anything to do with herself as a person, except in the context of how he felt about her.
The entire play hinges on the audience not expecting anything hinky about a female character who acts like that,
& most of the audience bought it, hook, line, and sinker.
even I did. there was genuine feeling of surprise in the room
and I just…
A woman can literally be an incorporeal ghost & as long as she is emotionally supportive of a man we see her as a fully realistically person
if that isn’t a sad indictment of how female characters get treated idk what is, honestly
ETA: FOR THE LOVE OF HECK, THE POINT OF THIS POST IS NOT ‘CHARACTERS ARE SECRET GHOSTS SOMETIMES’, PLEASE STOP CITING THE SIXTH SENSE.
THE POINT OF THIS POST IS I CAN THINK OF MANY OTHER STORIES WHERE THE OSTENSIBLY FLESH-AND-BLOOD FEMALE ROMANTIC INTEREST OF THE HERO COULD HAVE BEEN REVEALED TO HAVE BEEN A INCORPOREAL GHOST AT THE END OF THE STORY.
AND THE REST OF THE NARRATIVE WOULD STILL WORK FINE, BECAUSE SHE WAS OTHERWISE THAT UTTERLY LACKING IN AN INTERIOR LIFE.