It's Valentine's Day, and that means love is in the air (for some of us, anyway). It's also a perfect time to pay tribute to the fictional men who've made my heart melt this TV season, for one reason or another, or oftentimes several. These are ten guys who, if they were real, would have no problem getting my phone number.
Warning: there are spoilers for certain series. Each show is listed in each character's heading. If you're waiting for the DVD's, I'd advise skipping those particular sections.
Before I get too mushy, here's the criteria for making my list:
1) They had to be from a show that is currently airing. If I did a list of all the TV characters I've ever loved, we'd be here a lot longer.
2) I wasn't allowed to play favorites. Characters were ranked on their own merits, and not because I liked one show over another. There are a lot of characters I enjoy watching, but if I wouldn't go out with them, they're not here.
3) This is a list of my personal character crushes, not an all-encompassing one. So please, don't send me mail saying that I forgot your favorite show or character. We're talking about my preferences here, not the best ever.
Got that? Then let's go over my top ten television dream dates, starting with...
10. Justin Patrick (Michael Trucco), USA's Fairly Legal
I just met him about a month ago, but I have to say that Justin has gotten on my good side already. This Assistant District Attorney is handsome, successful and driven. When he says something, I understand where he's coming from, and I'm sure that we'd have some really interesting dinner conversation. Plus, I love San Francisco, so he wouldn't have to twist my arm to get me to come see him.
The problem is that I don't know him all that well just yet. Not to mention that we'd never work out long-term, seeing as he's still sleeping with (and quite obviously in love with) his ex-wife. I'm sure we'd have a nice night, and I'd probably make a good friend out of the deal, but Justin's dream date prospects aren't that great.
9. Joey Quinn (Desmond Harrington), Showtime's Dexter
I'm sure his inclusion on this list will surprise a few people, but I've always had a soft spot for Quinn, because I've always known there was more going on with him than met the eye. He's really not as bad as he looks, and when it comes down to it, his heart is in the right place. This last season proved that he's capable of real love, and that he certainly deserves it after all he's been through. I certainly wouldn't mind being the one to comfort him.
Yet sleeping with the daughter of a serial killer and being the onetime target of an Internal Affairs investigation is a fair amount of baggage to bring to a relationship. Not to mention that although Stan Liddy is now dead thanks to Dexter Morgan, he sort of proves that Quinn knows the kind of people that I wouldn't want to be anywhere near. I think it's best to leave Quinn and all his problems to Deb, and I certainly wish them all the best.
8. Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin), CBS' Hawaii Five-O
This former Navy SEAL is handsome, and everyone knows it; that's why episodes seem to find every excuse possible to have him take his shirt off. Yet it's not just looks that have me interested. Steve is also smart enough to lead his own task force, funnier than he's given credit for (remember that airhorn?), and has no shortage of compassion for those in need. He's also devoted to his family, which makes me think he'd be a good choice to settle down with someday.
At the same time, he's got the albatross of his parents' deaths hanging over his head, and it's clear that he's going to be chasing answers about them and the contents of his father's toolbox for awhile to come. His phone always has this pesky habit of ringing at the least opportune time, suggesting that it'd be hard to get him to myself for an extended period of time. Not to mention that the people he gets close to either end up dead, or shipped out for their own protection. I've got a crush, but I'm thinking he just wouldn't have room for me in his life.
7. James Steel (Ben Daniels), BBC America's Law & Order: UK
I have a particular affection for lawyers, since I nearly became one. There's no better lawyer on TV than Senior Crown Prosecutor James Steel, who can tear people to shreds in the courtroom without batting an eyelash, and not look less manly just because he's wearing a wig while doing it. Outside of court, however, we've been treated to a guy who's warm, surprisingly funny, and who has high moral standards. Not to mention that I'd listen to him read the phone book.
My problem with putting him higher on this list isn't that he's devoted to his work; I've been there and no doubt I'd probably find it all fascinating. I don't even really mind that he's separated from his wife and that he's got a family. The real problem is that I know he's the smartest guy in the room, and definitely a lot smarter than me. That would probably get annoying after awhile. Not to mention that I'd be afraid of getting into even the slightest disagreement with him because he'd win all the time. It wouldn't even be close. I'd love to work alongside James, and I'd enjoy spending time with him, but I would probably always feel like he had me outclassed.
6. Michael (Shane West), The CW's Nikita
The guy who sounds like Batman has a lot going for him. He's ridiculously good-looking without even trying, and he's obviously well-dressed. He's second-in-command of Division, so there's no doubt that he's got a stable job that he's good at. If what we've seen in "Free" is any indication, the secret spy org takes very good care of its agents, so I'm sure he's living comfortably. Michael's shown himself to be smarter than he gets credit for, surprisingly sweet, funny when there's room for humor, and loyal to a fault. I'd never have to worry about him cheating on me, and I know that if anyone even looked at me funny, he could break them into small pieces. Michael really needs a hug, and I'd be glad to give it to him. What's not to love?
Well, as we established in "The Last Seduction," dinner conversation can be a bit awkward, even if it's for good reason. We know that Michael spends an awful lot of time in Division, so I might need to pry him away from his keyboard. But that's all stuff I can get used to. The one reason why he's not higher up on this list is that he belongs with Nikita. I'm sure he'd be a great boyfriend for awhile, but he'd eventually break up with me, and I'm looking for a guy that I can hold onto. I'd totally stay friends with him after he dumped me, though. I like him that much.
5. Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), FX's Justified
Like Michael, Raylan has a certain amount of spark that comes with knowing he's the toughest guy in the room. I'm pretty sure no one would mess with me if he was anywhere in the vicinity. He also has that Southern charm; I don't doubt that he's the gentleman that holds the doors and pulls out the chairs. Honestly, I just find the guy constantly fascinating. There'd be no shortage of stories for him to tell, and he's never short of a witty rejoinder, plus he's another one who could make reading the phone book sound interesting. Life with him would never be boring. He was married once, so I know he's the type to settle down. He also gets bonus points for once being seen in a Florida Gators T-shirt, as I'm a Gator girl myself.
Unfortunately, Raylan also has this habit of shooting people; I don't have a problem with that, but it'd make me worry about all the problems that come with it. He's already infamous with at least one mob boss. He's also stuck with his father, whom I'm liable to punch in the face, and I'd be having to fight for him with his ex-wife Winona, despite the fact that she's remarried. That's just a bit more drama than I'm willing to deal with on a daily basis. I love him, but I don't love everything that comes with him, and I'm not the kind of woman that would try and change him. While I don't doubt we'd work, all the outside issues would eventually sink this relationship.
4. Jesse Porter (Coby Bell), USA's Burn Notice
Oh, Jesse. I get you. I really do. I didn't want to like this guy when he joined Team Michael Westen, but he wore me down and now I've got an unabashed soft spot for the former counterintelligence agent. I understand the way he looks at the world, and I empathize with the way he feels about all the stuff he's been through. Not only could Jesse and I have great conversations about the spy game, but it's also been shown that he knows how to have fun when he gets the opportunity (such as a trip to the Bahamas). He may have a temper, but he's also possessed of a tender side, devoted to his late mother and also forming a friendship with Madeline Westen.
Jesse is the best of both worlds to me: he's capable when it's crunch time, yet off the clock he can be just as fun and engaging as the rest of his new teammates. He's shown brains and brawn. He'd be a great boyfriend on so many levels, and I think he'd make me very happy. The big question mark with him is what kind of a future we'd have together. Now that Michael is off in D.C., what is Jesse going to do with himself? Is he likewise going to try and get his old job back? Or something else? I'd want to be with him for the long haul, and that means having a clue what I'm getting involved with. I don't know, and I don't think he does, either.
3. Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber), BBC America's Law & Order: UK
It doesn't surprise me that Matt Devlin gets hit on in "Hounded." I'm actually wondering why my favorite Detective-Sergeant isn't flirted with more often, but I'm okay with that, because it means less competition for me. Matt is handsome in an adorable way, able to affect a melt-worthy expression when he needs to, yet also capable of a well-timed smirk or eyeroll that never fails to make me laugh. He's well-dressed and I just feel the need to ruffle his hair on occasion. He's that cute. We know from "Sacrifice" that he reads a lot, so we'd probably have a lot to talk about. Matt's loyal to everyone in his life - he's the person who's there most for Alesha after she's raped - and his set of beliefs about the way the world works are similar to my own.
Handsome, funny, devoted and hard-working, Matt really is the entire package. And he wouldn't have to convince me to move to London, as I've already entertained that idea a few times over the years. I think he'd easily get me wrapped around his finger, as if I'm not already there.
2. Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), FOX's Human Target
Chance is that guy I've had a crush on for years and years, and we're friends and we've hung out, but I've never had the guts to say anything about it. I've been a fan of his character since I was reading comic books as a kid; it's just a wonderful stroke of fate that he happens to be played by one of my favorite actors. Chance has always amazed me, because he's good at so many things, whether it's speaking fluent Japanese ("Pilot") or holding his own in a boxing ring ("Corner Man"), but he seems oblivious to all of them. He makes everything look easy, but he never gets an ego about it; he's able to do it all with a great sense of humor and a smile that I really can't resist.
There's that whole thing about him being a former assassin and all the baggage that comes with it, but Chance has seemed to be making strides toward putting that behind him with every episode. (Now if people would stop breaking into his place, I'd feel much better about visiting.) We've seen from his brief past with Katherine Walters that he loves strongly, and we know how devoted he is to those close to him. Chance would treat me right, make me laugh, and he'd probably teach me a bunch of stuff along the way. I'd happily settle down with him; I'd just have to get used to worrying over whatever he got himself into every week.
1. Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer), USA's White Collar
The top spot on this countdown goes to a con man, but that doesn't bother me one bit. It's easy to see why women swoon over Neal every week; he's got it all when it comes to what we want. He's gorgeous, brainy, never short of something witty to say, effortlessly charming, and is just dangerous enough to be exciting. If he's got one flaw, it's that he loves too much, and really, is that anything to complain about? If he's half as devoted to me as he was to Kate Moreau, I'd be a very happy woman, especially since it's been proven that he's an unabashed romantic that doesn't mind thinking about sharing forever with someone.
Of course, he is an ex-con with a bit of a reputation, but we haven't seen anything that he (with the help of Peter Burke and the FBI) can't handle yet. And that whole ankle bracelet thing might limit potential dates, but Neal's shown that he's just as happy staying in as he is going out. Not to mention he's a man of obvious class and style, treating women with respect while knowing style, culture and art well enough to easily fit in with high society. If I was lucky enough to catch Neal's attention, you'd better believe that I'd marry him someday; he's pretty darn close to perfect.
All of these fictional men are special in my book. I might not be able to date them, but at least I can curl up on my couch each week and appreciate each of them for what they are: great characters played by wonderful actors and written for by talented writers. The people who bring them to life each week are doing something very right, because each of these characters has found a special place in my heart, and it's finding and spending time with characters I love that makes watching television such a joy.