All The TV 'Bad Boys' We Had A Crush On Were So Messed Up All Along

Hollywood is just starting to catch on.
PHOTO: John Francis

Chuck Bass walked so Nate Jacobs could run. I've been thinking a lot about how baby sociopaths have taken over our high school dramas: from Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi) on Euphoria to Campbell (Toby Wallace) on The Society to Bryce on 13 Reasons Why (RIP, asshole). It seems like suddenly the guys you can't take home to mom—or are dating to piss off dad—have become much darker than the bad-boys-with-a-heart-of-gold we all desperately wanted to date after watching Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, or whatever series brings back those feelings of nostalgia. But are they really?

When you think about it, the bad boys that Hollywood has been shoving down our throats since James Dean invented the squinting-while-wearing-a-leather-jacket look have actually always been this bad.

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Chuck Bass is perhaps the easiest example. I'll admit right here, right now that I was a part of the Chuck+Blaire 4ever section of the fandom. But it's not my fault. The fantasy Hollywood sells us that we can change undesirable behaviors in our partners is practically crack to shippers and stans.

But, um, maybe rape shouldn't be a redeemable quality. One of the first times we meet Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), he sexually assaults Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) in the kitchen of the Palace Hotel bar. In that same episode, he attempts to rape 14-year-old Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen). Somehow, his love for Blaire (Leighton Meester) erased all that from our collective memory.

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If you think Chuck is an extreme example—I mean, what's really the difference between him and the entitled rapist Bryce Walker from 13 Reasons Why?—let's talk Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) from Veronica Mars. He's literally introduced as Neptune High's "obligatory psychotic jackass," and for good reason. The son of an A-list—albeit abusive—actor, Logan rebelled by lashing out at poorer students, vandalizing property, and forcing homeless men to fight each other for money. Not to mention, he was also at the party where Veronica (Kristen Bell) was drugged and raped. While he didn't end up being the one who plied her full of GHB and alcohol, he did nothing to stop it. Her assumption that it was him wasn't unwarranted—and that's a serious problem.

In fact, Logan wasn't supposed to last long on the series, but Jason and Kristin's chemistry was so intriguing to the writers that he became the primary love interest. The LoVe ship was born, but his violence wasn't dealt with until this year's reboot where he revealed he'd been in therapy (which, it should be noted, was a turn-off for Veronica).

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I could go on and on. Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) from Gilmore Girls struggled with severe anger issues, had no respect for women, and never learned how to apologize. More recently, even our beloved Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) has gone from a weirdo who loves his beanie too much to a weirdo who carries around a switch-blade to cut off other peoples' tattoos. I'm not saying he's as bad as Nate Jacobs and Campbell, who both abuse their girlfriends and feel just over zero percent sorry about it, but there's an unhealthy pattern that can't be ignored.

So why has Hollywood changed it's tune about these guys, choosing to go hard on soft boys (who can still be problematic for a slew of other reasons) instead? Maybe it's because angry white boys are actually a huge threat to our safety IRL. "Millennial misogynists" are radicalizing, spreading, and bringing guns into schools (and churches and mosques). According to the International Center for Research on Women, men behind large-scale murders are prone to violence against women, a trait they share with more than a couple of the "heartthrobs" in this post, and many that escaped mention.

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Think I'm reading too much into this? One of the pivotal moments of The Society on Netflix season one involves Campbell terrorizing his fellow students with a gun in the cafeteria. Surprise, surprise, he spends much of his free time physically and emotionally abusing his girlfriend Elle (Olivia DeJonge). When Nate from Euphoria isn't engaged in his toxic, violent relationship with his gf Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie), he's off beating townsfolk to a bloody pulp, lashing out at practically everyone, and threatening women he doesn't know with knives. It's not that the sexy hot-heads of the '90s and aughts weren't capable of that level of psychopathy, we just didn't always want to admit it.

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There's no longer room to romanticize the bad boy. Like Blaire Waldorf, Rory Gilmore, and now Maddy have learned the hard way, you can't "fix" them and the consequences of trying are too high.


This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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