That's it. I'm fed up. Done. I'm finished with the overlooked "good guy" character. The story needs to change. Why? Because it's tired. Worse still, it's a breeding ground for ill-thought and offensively misogynistic beliefs.
Let's recap. Geeky male character falls for girl. She's probably super hot, but she proceeds to date someone else. This someone else is probably also hot, but terrible. The poor and lovestruck, albeit masochistic geek must quietly and patiently suffer, frustratedly pining in the shadows and hoping to one day become the object of his love's misplaced affections. Maybe, (hold on to your seatbelt) in a rare moment of unexpected raw emotion they almost kiss. Of course, something inevitably stops the kiss, because the season finale isn't close. Oh, then she throws a curveball (if you can call something that we all see coming a curveball) and says something to effect of, "Oh *insert name of likewise two-dimensional character here*, you're like a brother to me!"
There it is. The "good guy" plot. It's like drowning in a sea of juvenile, poorly written angst. It's the Human Papillomavirus of plots. Consider the similarities. It's easily preventable (for real people, just get shot). It's everywhere. And it can occasionally have horrible side effects.
It comes in different packages too. The overlooked "good guy" character might have super powers like Barry Allen, Peter Parker, Clark Kent, etc. or he might also just be a regular old run of the mill geek like Leonard Hofstadter.
And before someone retorts, "It's everywhere because it's relatable". YES. It's relatable. That's not in question. Of course it's relatable. Everyone has had a crush on someone at one time or another that didn't feel the same way. That's the only reason the story works.
The problem is that an implicit narrative usually accompanies this craptastic plot and it's often unnoticed and usually misogynistic. It's the view that women are too dumb to know a "good guy" when they see one. For every "good guy" there is a "dumb girl".
He's a good guy. Everyone else can see it. Why can't she? She must be an idiot.
It's a problem that a majority of comic book related media doesn't pass the Bechdel Test, but this problem is magnified when the one and only female characters of supposed worth in the story is written with the sole purpose of frustrating the audience and balancing on that precipice between being attractively absent-minded and in need of living assistance.
"You go too far!", you say. "It's dramatic irony!", you say. Maybe, but remember that these are stories we grew up on and oftentimes the implicit narrative seeps into your psyche like women-hating asbestos, poisoning our minds one poorly written character at a time. Sooner or later everyone's psychological immune systems begins to feel fatigued. Then BAM! Suddenly, before you can say "strong female character", the people around you have all devolved into terrifyingly misogynistic rage-nerd-troll-monsters!
It's easier than you think. After all, if we are all the protagonists of our own stories. In real life, you're like the Superman character. Which means if someone doesn't have feelings for you, they must be the Lois Lane character. They must be an idiot! How can they not see your worth? You are a "good guy" damn it! Why can't they see the world as you do?!
I mean, she should be able to control and direct her emotions towards a more worthy target. Or else...you could control or direct your emotions towards a more worthy...NO! This one is on her! She's just like all those characters we've watched and read about since we were children. She is clearly just too herp-derped to see wisdom.
If you're starting to see the problem, good. If not, let's keep walking. The problem here is that most stories don't take this plot anywhere beyond what we've listed above. All too often the story gets stuck at "he's great and she doesn't see it (because she's dumb)". This sucks, but nobody thinks that way in real life...or wait...yes, yes they do,
First, let's ignore the bizarrely placed quotation marks around females (seriously, what does that even mean here?). If you are a straight male and you agree with this statement, you are misguided and participating in misogyny. If you are any other gender/orientation/etc and have found yourself saying things like this, you are misguided and have participated in douchebaggery.
You may think these are harsh words. "I'm not a misogynist!", you say with no small amount of frustration. "I'm a GOOD GUY!". As though every male on every dating website/app doesn't ALSO think that he is a "good guy". As if that is all it takes to make someone fall in love with you. Congratulations on being a good guy! Here is your woman! Voila!
But....but...you ARE a good guy! And you're different from all those other pretenders. You went to grad school or you have a nice car or everyone at work likes you. You don't steal or cheat at monopoly and you like things like cuddling and respecting your elders. In all likelihood, you are probably a totally acceptable human being who deserves love. So why can't you be the victim?
Well, there are hundreds potential reasons. First off, you are not the protagonist of your own comic book or television show. Life is just more complicated than that "good guy" turd pretending to be a plot. You know what? Maybe she does like you, but that's not enough. Maybe your feet smell like rotten cabbage and when she was young, her family was brutally murdered by rotten cabbages and now she bears a lifelong hatred for them and knows that if she can't love you without your shoes on, she probably shouldn't be with you. Now THAT'S a plot.
There could be any number of little or big reasons why love just isn't in the cards for you two and most of the reasons are things you'd never see in a comic. Although, when you think about it, Barry Allen's feet probably do smell. How can they not? I mean, he runs all the time. Or like, think about the inside of batman's suit. Superheroes must have to shower all the time.
Regardless, if you are using the term "good guy" when writing your misogynistic rage-nerd-troll-monster manifesto or when complaining about a woman, you are also implying that the object of your affection is a "dumb girl". You are participating in a simplistic and probably misogynistic action. You are (hopefully) better than that. Stop it.
Instead, let's agree to retire this plot or better yet, break it into a million pieces and make something better. Because, the world is full of imperfect people, not just smart male protagonists and their frustratingly dumb would-be lovers. What's more, let's not let this plot-hole exist in our stories, in ourselves or in those around us. Let's make our stories more complicated in the right ways. Because maybe there is someone out there who loves the smell of your rotten cabbage feet, but until you get over the fact that being a "good guy" is not enough, you'll probably never find them.