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.