Character Profiling: Aimee Finicky

Disclaimer:  This character profiling focuses on the movie version of The Spectacular Now’s Aimee Finicky. Though I plan to read the book, this discuss dives into the movie’s depiction of this character.  This post may contain spoilers. 

What is Character Profiling?

Every week, I will  profile some character in pop culture (either through films, books or TV shows) that deserves some further exploration for their dynamic nature. I shall also explain why this character breaks pop culture modes, creates their own archetype or works within their genre to change it.  Basically this is a weekly look at some of my favorite characters, and why I like them.

This week’s character is The Spectacular Now‘s Aimee Finicky. 

Aimee Finicky ( Shailene Woodley)from The Spectacular Now  demonstrates how socially awkward teenage girl need to be portrayed by the media.  Movies and television shows often characterize these types of girls as eccentric, pixie-like hipsters.  The clearest example of this is Jessica Day ( Zooey Deschanel) from The New Girl. 

Aimee represents the geek girl in their truest form: a bit awkward but still firmly aware of reality and social norms.  Unlike commonly shown, this character does not repeatedly tell viewers she’s ‘quirky’ just to signify the difference between her and other girls. Instead,  her unique nature subtly comes across through her love of comics, lack of romantic history and her consistent use of the word ‘awesome.’ Her lack of social ineptness pairs realistically with her other traits of passivity, low self-esteem and a need for social acceptance.

Another profound thing about the character of Aimee Finicky is that  other girls are not characterized negatively to make her seem exceptional. Aimee  does not war against other females, especially the popular or bitchy ones, because there is no threat to identities.  The Spectacular Now depicts the popular girl (Brie Larson‘s Cassidy) in a way that is almost as intriguing and outstanding as its portrayal of Aimee.  Both characters can co-exist in this world without backstabbing, degrading or fighting each other to prove their superiority. They may not be friends, but they are also not enemies.

Like most humans, Aimee has admirable traits and loathsome ones. Some of her good traits include general likability and a caring nature. Her negative  ones include being a pushover and revolving her life around a guy.  In the scene after the almost accident, where Sutter yell at her, Aimee causes viewer to cringe. After he nearly kills her, she weakly stands by crying and apologizes to him.  You want Aimee to scold  him, say a few sassy comments, even leave him, but you know that is not her character. And any other characteristic at this moment is not true to her nature.

She does go through a transformation, but it’s not the simple put on makeup and a tight dress one.   It’s both to her interior and exterior. Her relationship with Sutter gives her confidence but it does not magically cure every issue. Aimee isn’t the perfect girl who knows what to say and when.  She doesn’t just magically become that girl because she’s in love.  Like many, her process of self-discovery isn’t pretty or rapid. It’s slow and ugly.

Awkward teen girls have and always will be a part of the American movie and television culture. Nevertheless, writers often fail to truly understand these girls and how they should be portrayed. However,  writers, filmmakers and actresses should take notes on Shailene Woodley’s Aimee.  Aimee works not because she’s this flawless character, but because her failures are real and raw. She should become the new  archetype for these type of characters. Only then will they get it right.

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4 thoughts on “Character Profiling: Aimee Finicky

  1. i have a major problem with this depiction of the “good girl.” i think that though some people will see her as pathetic for letting sutter almost kill her and not saying a word, there are guys and girls out there that think this is normal. in the end of the movie, sutter shows up, seemingly to return into a relationship with her. she smiles at him, seemingly to say, ‘yes, please walk on me some more.’ this is detrimental. i know so many guys that actually LIKE this in a girl- when they are doormats, they are girlfriend material. when he is done walking all on her and dumps her, she still pathetically waits for him. i found the character arc of aimee finicky to be ziltch, and overall i think it is devastating to have yet another female lead have no motivation but for the male lead. the whole ‘going-to-college’ thing was a throwaway. in real life, if these kept dating, sutter would break her heart all over again.

    • I definitely agree there are a lot of problems with Aimee but that’s why I like her. Like most of the characters they are not the idea, but a cautionary tale of what people shouldn’t be. However, they are very realistic. Aimee is just like many girls. It’s definitely not a good thing but a real one. I think the reason Aimee is just second fiddle to Sutter is because the story is told from his perspective. It’s the story of Sutter and how Aimee relates to him. She is nothing in the story but who she is to him, because this is his story.

  2. I’m not a movieguy, I’m not a desperate forever alone guy, but seriously…if I EVER come across an Aimee Finicky-like girl in my life….I’m inmediately in love. I swear.

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