Chicago native and pop culture writer (AV Club, The Dissolve) Nathan Rabin recently achieved the unique accomplishment of having a phrase he coined, "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," appear in the Oxford English Dictionary.
“Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” or MPDG, was Rabin’s description of a series of certain female film characters (most notably Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown, Natalie Portman in Garden State and Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer). Their sole purposes seemed to be to delight their depressed boyfriends into a state of joy.
For better or worse, MPDG has defined much of Rabin’s career, leading to BJ Novak citing in his One More Thing a fictionalized Rabin’s MPDG-like commentary. Mindy Kaling took a different perspective by discussing “manic pixie dream guys.” John Green found it an urgent enough discussion to deny that his Paper Towns character is an MPDG.
Read and view them for yourselves to see how you feel about MPDGs. Afterward, though, I highly recommend Ursula K. LeGuin’s gender-bending The Left Hand of Darkness to inspire a truly exciting discussion of femininity.