Man-ic Pix-ie Dream Girl (MPDG): /ˈma-nik ˈpik-sē ˈdrēm ˈgər(-ə)l/ noun
FULL DEFINITION OF MPDG
:a stock female character in films and novels
:a (psychotically) bubbly, delightful creature, silly and impulsive to the point of insanity, ecstatic to the point of mania
:high on life and always beautiful
:unabashedly quirky, child-like, flirty, flighty; absolutely desirable, completely adorable, invariably eccentric and utterly irresistible
:used as a love interest for haunted, soulful male archetypes, teaches him to open up to life’s infinite joys and mysteries in pursuit of his happiness
:often laced with some sort of untouchable, unattainable quality, as if she were not quite real
:does not end up in a lasting romantic relationship with the main character, though the man’s outlook on life is undeniably changed for the better having known her
:is not displayed to have any inner life or dreams and goals of her own
:does not seem to exist off-page or off-screen when he is not there with her
:has no reason, in fact, to exist except to cheer those miserable men
:is not given a history before him, a life without him, a future after him
:was put in that film, in that novel, on this earth, solely to give said young men a contact high-on-life feeling, sweeping in when he needs her the most, like a soft, joyful breeze and disappearing again once her work is done
ORIGINS OF MPDG
The term was originally coined by a film critic named Nathan Rabin in 2005, after watching Kirsten
Dunst in Elizabethtown, the movie that no one liked but everyone saw because it had Orlando Bloom in it.
empty, lost, fleeting, floating, alone, gone, imaginary
self-actualization, fulfillment, contentment, joy, real, complete, dreams of your own, but still the girl who
actually gets to keep him in the end
EXAMPLES OF MANIC PIXIE DREAM GRILS
• Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
• That girl in insert-a-John-Green-novel-here, even when he claims to write against the trope
• Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer
• Zooey Deschanel in Gigantic
• Zooey Deschanel
• Natalie Portman in Garden State
FURTHER READING: IDIOMS AND PHRASES RELATED TO MPDG
You, you, you, you idiot. You stereotype, you cliché, you stupid girl. Who are you now? If you are by definition full of purpose only for a man’s happiness and he is gone, what is left inside of you now?
No more mopey Eeyore, no more broken ghost, no more lost boys. Take away the brooding male character and what’s left for an MPDG to live for? What use is wearing flowing skirts and feathers in your hair, strumming instruments with strings, speaking in rhymes and dancing in the rain if there is no man there to marvel at your free-spiritedness? How can you even exist outside of male fantasy? One time he approached you with a half-formed heart and you begged to give him yours. When that heavy heart is gone and so is he what is left to hold you to this Earth?
A girl is a whispered thing, floating between walls and minds, finding solidity only in her relationships with men. When she grows up, will girl be her own? But by then even her name, woman, will have a man in it.
The creator of the term regrets coining it. Can’t women in stories be more like women in reality? he asks, and all the flesh-and-bone girls who saw in this ink-and-paper spirit a glimpse of themselves raise a glass and say:
Here’s to hoping they aren’t already.
Samantha Edmonds is the author of the fiction chapbook Pretty to Think So, forthcoming from Selcouth Station Press in 2019. Her fiction has appeared in such journals as Mississippi Review, Black Warrior Review, Pleiades, The Pinch, Indiana Review, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency, among others. Her nonfiction has been published or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Literary Hub, Ploughshares, VICE, Bustle, and more. She serves as the Fiction Editor for Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts and the Community Outreach Director for Sundress Academy for the Arts. She currently lives in Knoxville, where she's an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Tennessee.