87 thoughts on “Top 5 Manchildren in Historical Costume Movies

  1. And this is why, as males goes, I went for the cat variety.
    I’m not delusional, so I know who’s boss in the house (hint: Meow) but he doesn’t interfere with my sewing (he “helps”) and does not care what I’m watching on TV.
    He huffs a bit when I rant about pin shortage and back lacing, but it doesn’t go further.

  2. Fabulous post and nodding my head in agreement like one of those plastic dogs! Newline Archer! What a tiresome weasel! As much as I loved the gorgeous bustle dresses, I kept wanting to throw things at the TV as I watched ‘The Age of Innocence’. Look, you’re incredibly wealthy and privileged. Either run off to South America and start a button shop (or similar) with your Great Love or just stop moaning!
    And yes, Henry VIII needs such a slap. And the chip on his shoulder couldn’t be any larger. Also a man with no compunction in throwing loyal servants (like Cromwell) to the wolves.

    1. Oh, I wanted to smack Henry in The Tudors from early on, when his secretary got thrown in the tower by Wolsey before going mad from the experience. Then the secretary Pace was never. mentioned. again, even thought the real guy survived the ordeal. (Ok, Pace was played by the delightful Matt Ryan, and I’m still not over what happened to Constantine)

      1. Oh God Yes. To give Robert Devereaux what little credit he deserves a chaplain finally made him realize what a total loser and waste of oxygen he’d been all his life and the really terrible things he’d done to women who loved him and he accepted he totally deserved to die.

      1. Oh I dunno. Dwight and Henshaw seem ok. Season 3 is less-aggravating than Season 2, but I still refer to this show as “pretty people doing stupid things.”

    1. I love the scene when he asks the women in his household “You think you can do better?” and they all just stop and look at him.

    2. Every time Francis does anything ridiculous and whiny (which is pretty much everything), I say out loud, “JEsus, Francis!” SPOILER: This includes not learning how to swim.

  3. I love your post. Poor wittle men. Can’t think, can’t self-actualise, can’t realise that their partner/spouse is an intelligent woman with a spine. May Welling May be sweet but she’s got a spine and is more intelligent than Elena Olenska. And is tons better (okay I’m for both Katherine of Aragon & Anne Boleyn) than their exes.

    And adding Essex is sheer genius.

    But I want to add Frank Randall book version.

  4. I was so pumped for the new poldark because it was a cool looking historical drama but I hadn’t read the books or seen the earlier version and after getting halfway through the season, I was like “wait, is this just gonna be about him mooning over the ex while married to the red head???” And so I looked up the plot and was like, yup that’s all it is for the whole dang series, except he also rapes the ex? And yet he is supposed to be a sympathetic character? I honestly don’t get it.

      1. Does he ever play a non man child? I recently finished watching the UK version of “being human” in which he plays a vampire abstaining from blood. His story arc is pretty interesting for a while and then it just goes super downhill super fast and by the end I kept repeating to myself that he really needed to die like “damn I don’t want to stop looking at you bc you’re super hot but dude your stupid ass needs to die”. This show is not really historical at all I know. But I do want to nominate practically every male vampire in a movie or tv show EVER. Manbabies the lot of em

  5. I vote for stupid & creepy Mr. Rochester. Moody, manipulative, hung up on Jane’s plain appearance until he’s blind and needy. He’s a sexually harassing employer who locked his wife in the attic. What a romantic prize!

    1. LOL re Rochester, in his defense he did love Jane from the first time he saw her and mostly only mentioned her size and fairy-like appearance (which he liked). On the negative, add his lying to Jane about wife and trying to MARRY her! And toying with Blanche Ingram merely to make Jane jealous! Ok, Blanche is a prime bitch but She didn’t deserve that! Also, add St.John Rivers. Jane should marry him basically because he wants a servant to take to India! Never could stand that asshole.

        1. Super repressed religious zealot manchild who denies himself his chance at actual happiness with a woman who is in love with him, even!

    2. Oh, gawd–THANK YOU. I’ve never understood why people talk about this novel as a great romance. Jane, honey, you let those bed curtains burn. His wife is more sane than she looks.

    3. I had to read Jane Eyre for English class in eighth grade, and I all I remember is thinking “wow, Blanche Ingram really dodged a bullet, there”

  6. Add in all male characters from Turn, because that’s seriously what drives the entire show: man-child-y-ness and fuck-boy-er-y. I was trying to come up with a list, but no it’s literally all of them 😂

    1. Historically speaking, I think Benedict Arnold really was a man child. There is no greater act of whining than to throw an entire country (that you lost your leg for!) under the bus because they didnt give you money and adulation- and then years later cheat on the smart and beautiful woman who helped you do it.

  7. Re your comments on Bingley in P&P, I would add if he has a spine, it’s a wet noodle. And Yes, Fitzwilliam Darcy has to give him written permission to go to the bathroom and wipe afterwards.

  8. About Bingley, he didn’t leave because Darcy and his sisters “talked shit” about Jane, he left because they convinced him she didn’t care about him, and he was also unaware that Jane came to London since his sisters and Darcy never told him.

    Bingley should have had checked for himself, but I don’t think it’s fair to put him in the same category as Henry VIII when the only thing he’s guilty of is backing off when he thought his advances were unwanted. He was only 22 after all, it’s understandable that he made some mistakes when it came to love and that he trusted his friend (who he had no idea had any ulterior motives, I believe he wouldn’t have trusted Darcy about Jane if he knew Darcy planned for him to marry Georgiana).

  9. So true! All of it – and I I’ve wanted to reach through the screen and CHOKE Poledark since the first episode (I didn’t see the earlier series).

  10. “Folded like a moist towelette” is the funniest thing I’ve read all day. SO MANY LOLZ in this post.

  11. OMG. Yes.

    Especially to the first one, but the rest all irritate me in varying degrees (actually, Ross Poldark the most. Like, dude, Demelza is the best thing in your century. GET OVER the pasty-faced drip from your past!).

    1. If I were Demelza, I’d leave Ross, move in with Caroline while Dwight was at sea & start carving out a life for myself unencumbered by Ross the Twit or is he a berk? Besides Caroline might need help with the loveable adorable wonderful Horace.

      Also add George Warleggen to the manchild list.

  12. And, re. Bingley, Darcy says in his epic letter to Elizabeth, ‘I had often seen him in love before’. So if Bingley has a bit of a history of this, he doesn’t get taken too seriously by his friends and family.

  13. Philip from “My Cousin Rachel”.

    However, to be completely honest, du Maurier did write the story after two heartbreaking/tortuous lesbian relationships she had had and so she remarked that she threw the women’s personalities together and created Rachel – the way the book ends is
    du Maurier’s act of emotional closure towards them.

    So I guess I could add “Maxim” from “Rebecca” to the list then.

  14. THIS!!I honestly thought I was a bit of an oddball hating Poldark and finding these men spineless and irritating. VINDICATION!!! Not QUITE a historical movie but my top “needs a pen in the eye” guy is wimpy writer guy from Moulin Rouge. He falls in love with a woman because she is hot to look at, idolises her, fails to notice the obvious signs of her illness, lets his own possessive jealousy override the greater good of the community when she is trying to save them all, jeopardises HER safety, then humiliates her in front of the whole theatre. And even then, she forgives him and reaches out, and he folds, still misses that she is dying, and then when she does he tortures himself forever over it just to be absolutely sure noone wins. I HATE HIM. I wish Satine had just given him a slap and said, “Go play in the road, dear, I’m busy” and be done with it.

    1. But Santine was Marguerite from LA Dame aux Camillias. I always thought the tenor in the opera/Alfred or whatever his name was a jerk. Hey were living on the money the ill Marguerite earned as a courtesan. He didn’t notice her illness either.

  15. You name Newland Archer and I raise you an Ethan Frome. I don’t know if there are any movie adaptations, but he dithers in his romantic life in a similar way to NA.

    1. My high school literature teacher: “What did you think about X aspect of Ethan Frome?”
      Me: “I can’t even”
      Teacher: “Why?”
      Me: “I HATE THIS BOOK”

  16. I feel there is a case to be made for Heathcliff. To be fair, I am also in the camp that views Wuthering Heights not as a romance, but as a dark character study of two sociopaths.
    Can you be a man-child and a sociopath?

    1. I think you can, and Heathcliff’s big problem is that he remains an abused, angry, emotionally needy child for life.

  17. I have always thought Wuthering Heights was dark and dangerous, but not in the good way. Two selfish people, the mother of all obsessions, unresolved sexual tension that could power Yorkshire. All that longing, unfulfilled desire and wasted emotion. Even when I was reading this at school I was seething and muttering, “just shag each other and get it over with”. And then she dies, no release of emotion, no touching, kissing NOTHING, just Heathcliffe being utterly vile to everybody for the rest of his life. That book would have been a whole shorter and happier if they had got it on and run away.
    And DON’T get me started on Edward and Wallis. It has always seemed patently obvious to me that he trapped her, she was pragmatic, she had a good time, got lots of lovely presents and was realistic about being replaced with a younger woman………..until he made it impossible for her to do what she intended to do all along…………leave.
    Both whiney, manipulative, bullying, self-pitying wussy men

    1. yes! Ugh, I couldn’t even get through this book–there was not one single character with any redeeming values, especially the men. It should have been titled “Unlikable Assholes”, instead.

  18. Mark Anthony in anything about Cleopatra – he’s always a useless drunk and a massive load. Cleo is the one who gets shit done. Besides, I’ve always preferred Caesar anyway.

    1. Oh absolutely. But Cleopatra had to do her best with the material she had to work with.
      Here’s classicist Peter Green’s take on Antony (in his excellent book, Alexander to Actium): “emotional vacillations, intellectual shallowness, and coarse excesses…a self-indulgent Roman, with his bull neck, Herculean vulgarities, and fits of mindless introspection.” Green suggests that Antony must have driven Cleopatra nearly insane. When I mentioned this opinion in a lecture, one of my students said earnestly, “But some women really like macho men!” The class got a good laugh out of that. Yes, if you were organizing a frat party, Antony would be your man…invading Armenia (a hare-brained stunt to begin with), eh, not so much.

  19. And also, because I’m obsessed with anything history prior to 1930:

    The whole bally thing about Out of Africa and more to the point – Denys Finch-Hatton,
    is that the real story is far more entertaining than the fictitious one.

    Denys was a crazy playboy – in fact his whole regular crowd were known as the orgiastic “Muthaiga Country Club”. Not only did sleazy friend Hemingway remark on his exploits in his writing, but so did his lover – absolutely fantastic woman of the 20th century, Mail Courier/BUSH PILOT and Champion Horse Trainer, Beryl Markham.

    Therefore in short, I think in RL it was his forte to string several along in succession. But yes, Robert Redford’s portrayal – easy on the eyes but MAN CHILD.

    1. Henry did not have syphllis. That’s a Victorian era myth. Catherine of Aragon died of cancer, Jane Seymour childbed fever and Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were beheaded. Henry’s fertility is still cause for speculation but syphills was ruled out a long time ago

    2. I always wondered whether there was a problem carried on the Tudor Y chromosomes. With the exception Henry himself, his brother Arthur was sickly and died young, and all his male offspring—including Henry Fitzroy and Edward VI—had serious health problems. Henry’s daughters and sisters seemed to have fared much better.

      Of course back then, no one knew about X and Y chromosomes and the father’s role in determining the sex of the offspring.

      1. There’s actually a book / glorified / expanded college thesis I read not long ago, speculating on Henry having the Kell antigen, specifically McLeod syndrome, and arguing that’s why he later underwent such a dramatic personality change (from a good natured young man to a bitter, murderous tyrant). It was a fascinating hypothesis, but undermined by Katharine of Aragon carrying their son to full term after losing their first child in a miscarraige. (Usually, after the first negative Kell pregnancy, every subsequent pregnancy miscarries.)

        Since almost every woman at court had multiple miscarriages / lost children, I’d rather think it had more to do with poor health / bad midwifing / their dreadful diet / the lifestyle than any kind of syndrome.

  20. can I add Mr Selfridges to the list? really loves his wife and kids and thus shags every pretty lady he lays eyes on. When the wife seems to be going a bit in the same direction, but not really because she has a spine, he loses his shit.
    Not to mention all the whining he does when his family becomes victim of his own misbehaviour and gambling.

    1. OMG he is terrible! One of the reasons I’ve only written briefly about the TV series is that, while I really enjoyed the storylines about the characters working in the dept. store, I could.not.stand the plots revolving around Selfridge himself. Such a wanker.

    1. Oh yes. And what that role did to poor Leslie Howard’s reputation!

      Ashley in the book on the other hand, seems to have PTSD later though which explains a lot and doesn’t really come up in the movie.

  21. Okay. Since we are adding literary manchildren we hate from movies, let me add my most hated: Michael Henchard from the Mayor of Casterbridge, who SELLS his wife and young child to an unknown fellow drunk in a bar just because he’s tired of her. Fortunately the new guy is much nicer than Henchard and she has a decent life (daughter dies, she has a new one she names the same) until she thinks he’s dead. At which time she returns to Henchard (she’s an idiot). He thinks daughter is his and treats her ok until wife dies; he finds out the truth and then treats her like shit. And this is a novel everyone raves about because it shows REMORSE. Yeah, remorse that you wasted time reading or watching it.

    1. Edmund comes to his sense, though. Eventually. Tom is TOTAL idiot. And let’s not forget Henry Crawford, Biggest Manchild of ALLLLLLL.

  22. I’d seriously add Vanity Fair‘s George Osborne near the top of the list, and I’m still waiting for a dramatization that is true to Thackeray—including a blonde Becky.

  23. Out of Africa was recent on the telly again. I hadn’t seen it in forever, and I was utterly shocked by what a nonsensical, whiny, undeserving dude Denys was. Slappability index at the max.

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