March 26, 2021

Fashion died circa 2010, as a cultural production (more signs of a Dark Age)

I started going through some old designer things of mine during the past week. Both because it's the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, when people want to dress to get noticed as they emerge from their shells, and to do some spring cleaning / inventory. Not to mention wanting to take part of the 2000s revival -- and not by looking y2k, but the just as ubiquitous "edgy" "chic" of the time.

It just made me realize how, like so many other cultural domains, fashion died off during the 2010s and is basically non-existent during the 2020s. That does not mean people have stopped wearing clothes, taking part in trends, displaying themselves to others, etc. Just like it's not as though people have stopped telling and listening to narratives (high or low in status).

However, the cultural production of fashion has ceased to exist, and it's entirely an audience without a team of creatives making stuff for them. Who are the designers of the 2010s and '20s? No one who was not already a somebody from fashion's heyday of roughly the 1980s through the 2000s. Who are the models -- and supermodels? What are the must-have perfumes and colognes? Who are the photographers? Who are the editors and other curators and directors? What are their outlets? Who are the critics and commentators? Where does the audience actually congregate to browse and buy their stuff? Where else in the culture is fashion the focus -- movies about it, TV shows about it, songs about it?

None of those things exists right now, and looking back, have not existed since about the same 2010 cut-off point for the current and perhaps indefinite cultural Dark Age. And yet the culture was all but saturated in fashion during the 2000s.

More on the specifics below, but first let's complete the overview.

The 2008 financial crisis and recession dealt a decisive blow -- though not in terms of the drying up of funding for some domain like fashion. The central bank printed up $4.5 trillion under Obama, and trillions more under Trump, handing it out to the clueless rich to gamble on or fund their pet projects, and bail out those who lost on their investments earlier.

That removes a tiresome explanation from the list -- that after the Great Recession, luxury became taboo, became unaffordable, etc. No it didn't -- luxury purchasing soared under Obama, as the rich were bailed out by the central bank. Look at how many upscale supermarkets there are, upscale coffee shops, upscale movie theaters, upscale everything.

It's not for want of funding, nor tapped-out consumers, that the would-be culture creators have stagnated. It's something larger, like the disappearance of institutional trust and cohesion, as the 2008 crisis was not just any old recession, but left the elites with the sense that the whole societal project was over, and now it's only a matter of sucking dry whatever is left rather than creating entirely new things.

During societal disintegration, there's not enough camaraderie left to fuel collaborative efforts like cultural production. Society disintegrates from the top, as the elites war against each other for status, and cultural production is an entirely elite affair. Folk culture evolves slowly over time, but the deliberate crafting of narratives, images, and so on, for an audience, belongs to the elites. And the masses like it that way -- they scoff at bad art because "my kid could have made that". They look up to the cultural creatives as a group gifted with some degree of talent and resources, so let's see what you've made out of it -- wow us, knock us over, don't make us make it ourselves.

That suggests that the Dark Age may last for quite awhile, since the American (and broader Anglosphere) elites are only going to get weaker as the Anglo empire has reached its peak of territorial expansion, material exploitation, and downstream effects like cultural influence. Now the only question is how wide the Dark Age will cover -- will it cover pop music too, with every new hit song being some channeling of a style made before 2010? Or are songs less demanding than movies or fashion, so that they will be relatively spared by the Dark Age? Time will tell.

Food seems safest, as it doesn't require lots of collaboration or creativity (in the sense of making something distinctive and original). Food is about familiar faves, whether your own or from another culture, not about conceiving and implementing a truly new creation.

* * *

It shouldn't have to be said, but all of this is objective analysis of a state of affairs, not subjective appraisal of whether you like it or not.

Perhaps the easiest way to detect the death of fashion is from other cultural domains that treated it as their subject (a still-alive subject, not a history, documentary, etc.). During the 2000s, there were multiple hit reality TV shows, running several seasons each, that were about fashion and style -- What Not to Wear, How Do I Look?, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Project Runway, Blow Out, Shear Genius, and America's Next Top Model. Designer Isaac Mizrahi had his own talk show. There were iconic movies such as Zoolander and The Devil Wears Prada (adapted from a hit novel of the same decade).

Songs about the industry appeared earlier in the heyday, circa 1980 -- "The Model" by Kraftwerk, "Fashion" by David Bowie, "Girls on Film" by Duran Duran, and two songs from the '90s called "Supermodel" (one by RuPaul, and another by Jill Sobule for the Clueless soundtrack).

These other cultural domains stopped referring to the fashion industry during the 2010s, because it had died, and they're not about to start referring to it again anytime soon, since it's not coming back from the dead.

The life of the cable TV channel the Style Network encapsulates the broader trend: it was spun off from E! in 1998, was re-branded away from fashion in 2008, ended operations altogether in 2013, and its successor the Esquire Network itself bit the dust in 2017, with no further replacements. There cannot be a viable TV network about a sector of culture that no longer exists, unless it's a historical channel.

The death of models has been discussed for at least a decade now. Here is an old post of mine looking at the generational aspects of its decline, whereby Gen X-ers were the most suited to being models, whether they were teenagers or 30-somethings, and across various time periods from the early '90s to the late 2000s. Millennials never took over. The last two supermodels were Gisele Bundchen and Alessandra Ambrosio, born in 1980 and '81.

Emily Ratajkowski is not a model, but someone who could've been a model if she'd been born 10 years earlier. She is that hot chick from the "Blurred Lines" music video, who has appeared in the zombie runway shows for zombie fashion brands, and zombie publications like the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

For awhile now, pop culture celebs have taken over for models -- actresses, singers, hot chicks from music videos, etc. They've so run out of ideas, they've reduced themselves to getting politicians like AOC on magazine covers, and resorted to generic libtard journos blabbing about her white capelet as though they were visually talented and specialized in fashion rather than politics.

The last widely popular, original designer movement was, for lack of a better term, "edgy minimalism" from the 2000s, with or without a "rocker" spin on it. I didn't pay much attention to women's fashion, but for men it was Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme, Ennio Capasa at his own Costume National, Neil Barrett, John Varvatos, Tom Ford, and a few others I may be forgetting. This was not only a movement within fashion, it cross-fertilized with the music domain to craft the personas of rock band members, and movies (not typical projects like dressing someone for an awards show, but re-inventing James Bond's look for the new Daniel Craig movies).

Related was the edgy, though less minimalist, look of the Affliction t-shirt craze, which also cross-fertilized to enhance the personas of MMA fighters and rock band members of the 2000s.

I mention this movement because it was the last to rely on straight men as the audience, not just a narrow niche of gays. Of course, gays did not kill fashion -- rather, once fashion was already dead, gays colonized the ruins and used it as a way to signal to each other that they're gay while out cruising. Wearing a skinny black tie in 2005 didn't mean you were gay -- it meant you were into rock bands like Franz Ferdinand and the Bravery.

Even more appealing to the dreaded toxic masculinity of straight white men was American Apparel during its late 2000s heyday. You could wear that stuff and not look gay -- you were taking part in the '80s revival. You looked like you were part of the hipster sub-culture, not a gay cruising sub-culture. Then there was the girls' clothing -- I don't know what guy wasn't thanking God for those shorts back in 2008. Not to mention the endless models and the porny-polaroid look of their ads. Name anything as iconic since then...

Relating to porno chic, as well as the still existing role of "model", there was the heyday of the website Suicide Girls in the second half of the 2000s. They were not influencers, it was not a social media site, not a porn site, and although not connected to a specific designer or design house, the site did rely on the alt style of the pin-up models for their branding (when you could just search a million porn sites for naked girls of no particular cultural identity). Girls could look at the site for style inspiration, if they were into the alt / goth / punk sub-cultures.

I touched on the importance of thriving scenes having both male and female, and primarily heterosexual members, in the post on the death of sub-cultures.

* * *

Finally, there is the matter of what is going on today, and how is it qualitatively different?

Quite simply, there is no team of cultural creatives producing fashion anymore. No more designers, models, hair and make-up stylists, photographers, layout editors, publishers, public events or spectacles, stores (IRL or online), and cross-fertilization with other cultural domains. Other than that, it's the same!

What this means is there's nobody within the elites who are making fashion, so it's up to the masses to carry out those various functions themselves. But they have no specialized training, and most of them lack the basic visual skills necessary. The outcome is what you would expect if you asked readers to write their own books, or drivers to design and make their own cars.

The abdication of their role as culture creators is just one more aspect of the elites screwing over the masses these days. Some creative types would love to make it happen still, but by and large the tone is callous and dismissive -- the glory days are never coming back, and letting everyone fend for themselves is rationalized as liberating, democratic, and DIY, when it's really disempowering, elitist, and no-one-does-it-at-all because it's not within their abilities.

These days, fashion participants are just about exclusively female, with some token gays and trannies thrown in for wokeness points. Straight guys have no rock band members, MMA fighters, or cool actors to take their cues from, to aspire to, and to want to otherwise culturally affiliate themselves with.

They buy their items from online mega-marts like Amazon, AliExpress, Etsy, Ebay, etc., rather than a store focused on their particular group. And certainly no boutiques dedicated to just one brand. These online stores remove any sense of fashion being part of a physical, social scene that connects culturally similar people.

There are still teams of designers somewhere thinking up the items, and manufacturers making them. But most of it is recycling previous eras rather than trying to do something original. And its approach is more one of fan-service to a fandom, rather than creating something just to create it that way, and relying on customers to appreciate it and buy it.

Hot Topic is a textbook example of that 180-degree shift in approach -- during the 2000s, the customers took their cues from the merchandise that was curated within the stores, then during the 2010s it turned into a fulfillment center for your geek merch of choice, depending on which fandoms you belong to.

There are no models who work as models -- i.e., separate from the target audience of consumers. There is no specialized photography, no set dressing for an ad campaign, and really no ad campaigns at all. There are still images of the item by itself, not on a person, and you imagine what you'd look like with it on.

If you see it on a real-life person, it's probably from another member of the fandom, who has uploaded videos to TikTok or some other site. But the audience cannot put on its own show, so these are not models. It does keep alive the part of fashion where the "end-users" wear the items and display them for others to see -- which, however, was never part of the cultural elites' job. The consumers are still around, just not the culture makers.

Naturally the cameras, microphones, lights, set dressing, editing, etc., are pretty lo-fi since it's the teenagers using their own smartphones, not professional equipment used by trained technicians. So that's not an ad campaign, not even a guerrilla campaign. That all belongs to the part of fashion that happens after it's produced.

There is no over-arching vision for the end result, since there are no designers, tailors, manufacturers, etc. This leads to what is rationalized as eclectic tastes, but is really the consumers jumping from one trend to another based on their daily mood swings. It's not following a cohesive fashion movement, and it's not wearing the uniform of some sub-culture (you can never dress as The Other on a regular basis -- only for blackface value).

In fact, one popular trend on TikTok is the girl trying on 7 outfits from mostly unrelated styles, as the song lyrics say, "Wear this on Monday, wear this on Tuesday..." throughout the week, randomly bouncing from one style to the next.

Again, how can we expect the outcome to be any different? It's not their fault -- they're not the ones who are supposed to design, produce, market, sell, and brand the items, with links to other cultural domains like music or movies. They're just supposed to carry out the functions that the audience or end consumers do -- buy stuff, wear it, display it, etc., which they are in fact carrying out.

By the time things have devolved into individual consumers being tasked with those roles, rather than the cultural creatives doing what they're supposed to, fashion as such is dead. People trying on different looks for others to see, is not fashion as a cultural domain, any more than people telling stories to each other constitutes narrative art.

With no creative, original impulse left at the elite level, perhaps these flailings at the mass level will lead them to fossilize into new folk dress styles. They are not to be altered, and nothing new needs to be created, because that has already been done long in the past, by people we may not remember. Minor details may cycle, like hemlines or degree of color saturation, but the fundamental look will be set in stone.

In the meantime, though, we are living in an era of profound uncertainty and anxiety, as the elites have abandoned the common people and left them to their own devices.

March 21, 2021

No more songs about sub-cultures, nor crushes / relationships within them

Another striking fact of today's society, in addition to the death of sub-cultures circa 2010, is the absence of other cultural "content" about sub-cultures -- naturally, if the thing they would be commenting on no longer exists.

This hit home when I was thinking of writing new lyrics to adapt older sub-cultural anthems to today's landscape. But why should I have to do that in the first place? Don't the songwriters and performers already feel inspired to compose anthems about today's exciting sub-cultures? Well, not if there are no such things to sing about.

I'm not going to catalog the entire history of examples, but just to provide some from the not-too-distant past, the early 2000s had a few about the skater / punk scene of the time. "The Anthem" by Good Charlotte and "Fatlip" by Sum 41 were both about rejecting mainstream culture and joining a sub-culture. Note the difference with today's pseudo-sub-cultures -- they were actual social groups that people joined and participated in, not just a personal aesthetic and an individually curated playlist. Check out the music videos to see that the members were just as female as male.

As for the emo / scene kids of the late 2000s and after, I don't recall many popular songs about them. However, Fall Out Boy did release an anti-anthem "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" on their 2007 album, which tried to deflate the in-group-iness of the scene by saying it was no such thing, it's over, it's boring, or whatever. But whether it's self-effacing or a rowdy celebration, it's still a meta-commentary on the sub-culture that it comes from.

During the 2010s, the only songs about something resembling a sub-culture are danceclub anthems, i.e. about the experience of regularly going out to party in clubs. "Tik Tok" by Kesha, "All Night" by Icona Pop, "Take My Hand" and "Famous" by Charli XCX, "New Romantics" by Taylor Swift, "Habits" by Tove Lo, etc. And yet these are not about a social group whose members have enduring bonds and an awareness of belonging to a larger group than just themselves and their narrow friend circle. Rather, they're all about the individual, or at most their friends, going out to clubs to have fun. We don't have labels for the people they're singing about (a la emo, goth, punk, skater, prep, jock, etc.) because they're not genuine sub-cultures -- just people who have similar leisure and lifestyle inclinations.

By the 2020s, things have sunk into such a Dark Age that even the party club "scene" will not inspire anthems. It'll be more about online "communities" like Alt TikTok, Twitch streamers' fandoms, fitness Instagram, heaven forbid weird Twitter, etc. -- and perhaps there will be no more anthems about today's pseudo-sub-cultures at all (other than ones that random anons like me write on the internet, never to be performed, recorded, or widely distributed).

* * *

Aside from overall anthems about sub-cultures, there were also songs about the prospect of forming a romantic relationship within the sub-culture. Any thriving cultural community, whether a church or a music scene, has to be compatible with the other large domains of social life, like dating, mating, and family formation. If joining a sub-culture means you'll get no dates, no attention, no sex, no marriage, and no kids -- it's DOA.

Note how inverted this logic is with the pseudo-sub-cultures of the online world -- there are all sorts of them that not only attract people with poor romantic and sexual prospects, but degrade the prospects of anyone who comes into their orbit. Some of them are even meta about that whole predicament, like the incels.

Contemporary songs about crushing on a sub-cultural girl? Not that I'm aware of. Again I'd have to write my own by adapting earlier examples.

Relating to the gender skew of pseudo-sub-cultures, I just could not put myself in the place of a young guy today, who would be singing about some girl he's following on Alt TikTok. Straight guys have dropped out of sub-cultures altogether, while there are still a fair number of young girls trying to make them happen. If there are no straight guys in the scene, of course there will be no guys singing about the girls in the scene.

In fact, I felt like to make it honest to today's climate, the voice would have to be a girl singing about her crush on another girl in their pseudo-sub-culture. If girls are the only ones showing up, and they have romantic desires, that's going to find an outlet somehow -- and with no guys around, that means each other.

(The more autistic-leaning male brain channels those desires into video games and porn, plus male sexuality is not plastic like female sexuality is, so "gay out of curiosi-tay" is not an option.)

I'm sure there are straight guys out there who are pining away for the girls they scroll through on Tik Tok, or the IRL examples they see on the rare occasion that they leave the house. As the girls' Tik Tok videos show, they dress up and record these videos everywhere, including the most banal gathering spot like the nearest Walmart. So it's not as though the guys couldn't also get dressed up, go to the Walmart, and flirt or at least talk to and hang out with the alt girls who reliably show up.

That's why I have trouble writing a song from their perspective -- they're not going to talk to, or otherwise interact with, those girls IRL. And that would reduce the song to how he's going to work up the courage to DM a girl on the internet, maybe text her, and in his wildest dreams, receive some of her nudes. I'd like to bring the perspective back to IRL, not online, and these guys just do not exist in the real world anymore.

What examples do I have in mind? Just to name a few...

"Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys

"Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" by the Ramones (not overtly about a crush, but feels implied)

"He's the Greatest Dancer" by Sister Sledge (it's specifically about the disco sub-culture, not merely being a good dancer)

"Punk Rock Girl" by the Dead Milkmen

"Sheena's in a Goth Gang" by the Cramps

"Sk8er Boi" by Avril Lavigne

"The Rock Show" by Blink-182

"Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus

"Riot Girl" by Good Charlotte (deep cut, not big hit)

"Girl All the Bad Guys Want" by Bowling for Soup

Before going further, I just want to point out the inversion of meaning that has taken place with "Sk8er Boi," whose opening lines have provided a meme format for the past several years. "He was a boy, she was a girl -- can I make it any more obvious?" In the meme, "boy vs. girl" is taken to mean members of opposite groups, akin to "Democrat vs. Republican," and the meme is about unlikely opposites attracting.

But that's entirely backwards from the original song, in which there is an unlikely pairing -- the skater boy and a popular ballet girl -- but the girl dumps him under peer pressure from her own in-group. The singer is a new girl who is from the same sub-culture as the skater boy, and they are the ones who live happily ever after -- not those from opposing groups. The singer downright disses the other girl from outside their sub-culture. It's a "Rah Rah, Team Us!" anthem, not a celebration of unlikely opposites attracting.

As with the anthems about the sub-culture overall, I don't recall any popular crush songs from the late 2000s and after about emo girls, scene queens, MySpace cuties, etc. I'm thinking of adapting "Punk Rock Girl" into "Mall Goth Girl," though.

Also in line with the overall anthems, there seems to be a peak in the early 2000s. That's not my selective memory, since I was never heavily into that music at the time, or since. Why that might be, is a separate post.

There is one major genre from the late 2000s that fits the pattern, however -- rap songs about crushing on a stripper / go-go dancer, and by implication the kind of girls who were into that club culture and had similar dance moves, style, appearance, musical tastes, and hang-out spots. "Low" by Flo Rida (with the most extensive sub-cultural details), "I Wanna Love You" and "Smack That" by Akon, "Bartender" and "I'm 'n Luv (wit a Stripper)" by T-Pain, "Cyclone" by Baby Bash, etc.

"Dear Maria, Count Me In" by All Time Low doesn't count, despite being about a stripper and being released in the late 2000s. It's not about crushing on her, but trying to make her a big star, and not about the members of the wider sub-culture of nightclubs.

I don't know of any big examples from the 2010s, including quasi-examples from the "club party" scene-but-not-a-sub-culture. Because there were no enduring social bonds there, no one individual would crush on another one, and pine for them over time, hoping to someday work up the nerve to approach them and get to know them.

Apparently, not even the regulars who work there, like the bartenders or the hired dancers, could convince the 2010s club-goers to crush on familiar members of their non-sub-culture. If you're not going to a club as part of a sub-culture, then the bartenders and dancers are not familiar fellow members of the sub-culture, but servants meant to wait on you while you do your leisure / lifestyle activity (which they are not, being at work). Or at best mild background entertainment (not the main reason you went there -- they're not like a band you pay to see perform live).

Which brings us back to the current year. We'll see how well I can adapt the older models, but anons should not have to. And yet, that's where we are -- in a new Dark Age.

March 10, 2021

Maligning Manic Pixie Dream Girls during refractory phase of excitement cycle: Ms. Grundy from Riverdale

Earlier posts have looked at the role that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl plays during two of the three phases of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle.

The type first appears during the restless warm-up phase in order to coax wary men out of their shells, nursing them back to social-emotional health after everyone had been isolating themselves during a refractory state in the vulnerable phase. When they were hyper-sensitive to stimuli, they cocooned. Now that it's time to come out, some need some coaxing. Enter the MPDG for a certain type of guy (sad sack, unlucky in love, and so on).

After that role is done, by the time the manic phase begins everyone is already out of their shells. So now, having nursed others to health, the former MPDG goes on a search for her own fulfillment. It's crucially not an endless self-absorbed journey -- it's a well earned vacation after having given so much of themselves over to others during the previous warm-up phase.

Other examples I missed in that post are Julia Roberts' characters in Runaway Bride (1999) and Eat Pray Love (2010). She had previously played a major MPDG role during a warm-up phase (Pretty Woman from 1990). But in the manic phases of the late '90s and early 2010s, her roles were more about finding love and fulfillment for herself.

At any rate, what happens to the type when the manic phase is over, and energy levels crash into a refractory state during the vulnerable phase? The last thing guys in that phase would want is a chipper extravert trying to coax them out of their shells. Their hyper-sensitive state leads them to push the type away, and even malign or demonize them, just to make sure she doesn't get close.

In the comments to the second post, I mentioned the example of Lost in Translation from the vulnerable phase of the early 2000s. There's a character who would've been a straightforward MPDG in the early '90s (she seems to be patterned on SanDeE* from L.A. Story, with the talk about cleansing the toxins out of your body). Only in the vulnerable phase, she's portrayed as an intrusive, talky, annoying airhead, who ScarJo's character tries to shut up with a curt "No" when asked a question by her.

Still, as memorable as that character was, her screen time was brief. I've always been on the lookout for MPDG types in vulnerable-phase culture, but generally they're just not included at all. No need to think about them -- just imagining their interactions with you could painfully overload your senses during a refractory state.

However, while watching Riverdale season 1 (2017), I found the perfect example of how the type is treated during a vulnerable phase -- Ms. Grundy. At first she seems to check all the familiar boxes of the MPDG: cute, charmingly quirky appearance (glasses, hair in a bun, and an oversized blouse or cardigan), free-spirited, extraverted enough to make the first move, motivating her love interest to do the best he can in his ambitions, and reassuring a down-on-his-luck guy that he's love-worthy.

But there's a twist -- she's the high school music teacher, and her male love interest is one of her students, Archie, the protagonist of the series. He's currently playing football, but wants to pursue songwriting instead, and she coaches him musically and encourages him emotionally, so that he can eventually become the greatest musician he can be. And he'd been unlucky in love before because he was just a plain-looking freshman. She begins an affair with him during the summer before sophomore year, when he's growing into a random hot guy.

So the usual nurturing role that the MPDG plays is maligned by treating it as a predatory role. She's not an earthly guardian angel -- she's a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing. The two of them were at the location of the disappearance of another high school boy, which is the central mystery of the season. Ms. Grundy leans on Archie not to bring any information of his whereabouts that day to the sheriff, parents, or other adults, for fear that her affair will be discovered and cost her her job. So the type is shown as manipulative on top of predatory.

Even worse, it turns out that she's assumed a false identity and won't discuss her previous personal or work life. Deceitful as well!

The writers do give her a break on her way out: she only changed her name while fleeing an abusive husband, and she's allowed to leave town without being targeted by law enforcement as long as she doesn't come back. I'm not going to watch season 2, which the fans themselves say is much worse than season 1, but there she's murdered outright by the criminal threat that pervades the second season.

All in all, very negative treatment of the type. Not only should you not accept her interactions, you will be harmed and done-in by her supposedly good motives, so keep her out of the picture altogether.

In fact, the writers were destroying not one but three tropes of the free-wheeling late 2000s warm-up phase -- the MPDG, the hot woman high school teacher sleeping with a male student, and the cougar (this is distinct from the teacher role, since the teacher could be young, like 25, whereas Ms. Grundy is in her 30s).

As she's leaving the town, she's channeling two iconic characters from separate warm-up phases in the past, both on the theme of inappropriate age gaps -- the early '60s Kubrick version of Lolita (wearing red heart sunglasses), and perhaps without intending it, The Crush from the early '90s (the shallow focus, portrait lens, Pacific Northwest setting outdoors in daylight with a tree-lined quaint neighborhood in the background -- and a vintage car for good measure).

The only warm-up phase they did not malign was the late '70s -- maybe she could have watched Manhattan at the drive-in with Archie, and then when his dad or his friends are watching TV later on, that movie comes on and leaves a bitter taste in his mouth. Or maybe the soundtrack could have ironically played "Hot Child in the City" while she was loading her final things and driving off.

And in the interest of profiling the actresses who play MPDG roles -- either a proper role during the warm-up phase, or their successor roles in the other two phases -- Sarah Habel, who plays Ms. Grundy, fits the mold perfectly. Most importantly, she was born during a manic phase, indeed the same one as the other actresses who were proper MPDGs during the late 2000s heyday of the role -- born in the early '80s. Like the others, she imprinted on a zeitgeist of invincibility, risk-taking, and carefree resilience (and re-imprinted on such a zeitgeist during her second birth of adolescence at age 15, that time in the late '90s manic phase). That disposition is necessary for someone whose role is to coax others out of their shell and encourage them to pursue their ambitions without being paralyzed by the risks involved.

Physically, she has an hourglass waist-to-hip ratio, signaling the feminine nature required for a nursing role. Not that height is a good predictor of the role, but she happens to be a literal pixie at 5'2. I can't tell if she's a butt woman rather than a boob woman, like the norm for the type, but she is portrayed as a corporeal rather than cerebral person in the TV show -- she's not primarily a songwriter or composer, but a performer who has honed a kinesthetic craft (she's a Juilliard-trained cellist).

As of last year the vulnerable phase has been over, so we should see some proper MPDG roles coming soon. Sarah Habel has already proven she can play the part -- only this time, her acting would serve a sincere purpose in the TV show or movie, rather than to malign the character type.