'Tis the season for Christmas movies, and this year, there is no shortage of lovey-dovey films set in the snow. The roster includes Last Christmas starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, Netflix's The Knight Before Christmas with Vanessa Hudgens, and Lifetime channel's A Storybook Christmas. And while the majority of lighthearted holiday-themed romantic comedies do showcase ideal romances between ideal characters, Tom Webster (Henry Golding), Sir Cole Christopher Frederick Lyons (Josh Whitehouse), and Taylor Haldway (Jake Epstein) present the image of the "ideal man" as they embody characters that can only be described as Manic Pixie Dream Boys.
The role of the bubbly, quirky, and adventurous Manic Pixie Dream Girl has been around for quite some time—from Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly to Zooey Deschanel's Summer Finn. (Nathan Rabin first coined the term in 2007 as he described Kirsten Dunst's Elizabethtown character Claire Colburn.) These female characters have been assigned the task of helping their movies' male leads change for the better. Well, this Christmas, the tables have turned and holiday filmmakers have given us all the gift of the MPDB(oy).
And while women don't need men to magically swoop in like fairy godmothers to "help" them on their path to self-discovery, it's refreshing to see a type of masculinity that supports women and pushes them to follow their dreams and ambitions. The MPDBs in Last Christmas, The Knight Before Christmas, and A Storybook Christmas aren't around to try to transform their female leads but are there to cheer them on and provide a different perspective that allows these women to unlock something within themselves.
First, there's the charming Tom Webster, who seems to turn up everywhere Kate (Emilia) goes. He volunteers at a local homeless shelter, loves to skip and dance in the streets of London, and knows of secret gardens and secret entrances to ice-skating rinks. It's easy to see how his "look up" philosophy in life affects Kate's attitude and existential outlook. But as Last Christmas emphasizes, the intention is not to have Kate dependent on Tom. Although he ghosts her (like, literally), she still thrives independently after having learned what she needed to learn from Tom.
Sir Cole Christopher Frederick Lyons brings his medieval knight chivalry into the 21st century when he magically gets sent forward in time. He doesn't actively impose his ideas on science teacher Brooke (Vanessa), who has grown pessimistic when it comes to love, magic, and destiny. Instead, his strangeness and romantic point of view lets her regain her own sense of romance and whimsy that she's chosen to lock away for so long.
And then there's Taylor Haldway—the unexpected male nanny who also moonlights as a children's book author. His role, of course, is to help busy events planner Celeste Everette (Ali Liebert) by watching her niece Finley (Habree Larratt). His spontaneous "fun uncle" nature, imagination, and creativity wins Finley over. And while at first, Celeste resists him by insisting on following her organized, color-coded, scheduled method of running things, she eventually opens her mind to his madness and finds a balance for herself. She comes to the conclusion, as she says in the trailer, that "sometimes we need to be ready to jump in and do things we never thought were possible."
Unlike the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which shows the problematic idea that women exist to help lame men transform themselves, these three MPDBs instead show how to contribute to the conversation without discrediting their leading ladies. They allow the female characters' individual agencies to shine and merely provide gentle guidance, allyship, and support—all things a woman needs out of a relationship, whether it be a brief fling or cuffing-season long-term commitment. And while Tom, Sir Cole, and Taylor are all impossibly perfect and clearly fictional, a girl can dream and add "Manic Pixie Dream Boy" to her Christmas wish list.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.