Jayne Cobb vs. Capt. Tightpants

My son, Will, gave me the Firefly series set and then let me watch Serenity on his Netflix. Yeah, I know, I’m behind the times. However, needless to say, I was smitten. I’m so irritated they cut the series. I can’t imagine a network being that clueless about what they had. Anyway, someone has created a bot on Twitter that responds with a Jayne quote when you say both Firefly and Serenity, which I find amusing to no end. I think I broke it though, I said it this morning. He popped back up later so I guess he was just in his bunk.

Dan Krokos and I had a discussion about Jayne versus Mal. He asked, “Why do you like Jayne. He was the least intelligent and most likely to screw things up.”

I explained to him the Jayne Cobb character has a bot and it’s just fun to screw with, but it brought up an interesting question. Why do women find this character so fascinating?

I think it goes back to some primal instinct. Subconsciously, I think women are attracted to men they think can protect them. On a more conscious level, it boils down to a man with confidence. There’s a difference between cocky and arrogant and confident.

Atherton Wing, for instance, in the Shindig episode. He’s handsome, rich, powerful and, according to Inara, he has a lot of stamina. He’s also completely wrapped up in himself, which is singularly unappealing.

Mal is good looking, full of confidence, intelligent, a real fighter and has a certain sense of honor that is a dangerous combination. If he felt bound to you, he would never leave you behind. He might even stick his neck out for someone he didn’t know. In Shindig he shows how much he dislikes the slave traders. There’s that sense of honor again. And, purely on physical aspects, he’s probably good in bed. He doesn’t have to brag about his prowess or try to impress anyone, he just knows and women will pick up on that.

His drawbacks are a certain lack of respect for women while at the same time he would be the kind to come running to their rescue. For instance in the Shindig episode when he tells Kaylee her having that dress she loves would be like a sheep walking on its hind legs. You expect that out of Jayne because he has no couth. It hurts when it comes from someone you admire as Kaylee does Mal.

Then we come to Jayne. He’s undeniably attractive. He’s powerful. The beard just adds to the dangerous look about him, but there is a certain little boy aspect about him. Seeing him in Mama Cobb’s hat is one of the best quirks in the show. Mama loves him and he’s still her little boy and he loves her. He’s thrilled to wear the cap that a lesser man would cringe about wearing. Every woman melts at that little boy hidden away in the tough guy body. On the down side, he doesn’t have much honor and he’s certainly not overly intelligent. Every now and then, though, he has some interesting insights on life.

Jayne would probably eventually fall in love and settle down, but the woman who entered into a relationship with him thinking she is going to be the one to tame him would most likely just get her heart broken. It wouldn’t happen on purpose, Jayne doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone or to build his ego up by making women fall in love with him and then dumping them. It would just be some odd happenstance meeting and the chemistry would click.
So, why on earth would a sane woman be attracted to him? One reason. Great sex. While a lot of men and women write checks with their mouths their bodies can’t cash. Jayne would be the man a woman would bed and not worry about him wanting to hang around and fall in love. Yeah, there are times women just want to enjoy a man with no strings attached.

My pirate in FAR RIDER is similar to Capt. Mal Reynolds. His main difference is he carries a very large grudge against his father and he will do anything to destroy him. I suppose maybe they aren’t so different. Mal hates the Alliance, but he hasn’t made it quite as personal as Capt. Trelaine.

Erokath, one of my villains is a demon who has regained his human form. He’s a stone-cold killer, but he doesn’t particularly enjoy physical torture. He just calmly kills people who get in his way. He’s also a predator and loves playing mind games. Other than that, he loves sex and good food and has little use for incompetent, shallow people. He values intelligence in a person if only to make the mind games more interesting.

I dated a Ranger when I was in high school. He was my best friend’s older brother and had just returned from Viet Nam when I met him. He was damned good looking, respectful, intelligent, soft-spoken and had a powerful, but quiet self confidence. There was also a little boy aspect to him that melted me. We spent a lot of time just talking. He refused to talk about the war, but we could visit about anything else and have an interesting conversation. He also had that chemistry that draws women in like bait. Basically, he had everything most women want. There aren’t a lot of men who have the whole ball of wax. He’d be an interesting character because there would be so many aspects he would open completely and yet other dark corners that would stay forever closed.

So, what about you? What attracts you to someone?


  1. If we’re looking at our characters, I think the hero in Sisterhood (Kevin) would be my favorite. He’s loyal, he’s strong. He’s unpredictable to a point, and yet very predictable if crossed. He’ll defend our heroine with all of his might…but he is a bit of a klutz. He’s tender and sensitive and takes the time to really know her. He may not be the best looking — although he’s not bad — but he’s safe {for her} and intelligent.

  2. See, that’s what I like. I like characters who aren’t one dimensional. I like layers. Even Jayne Cobb for as snaky as he can be at times has his tender moments.

    How is Sisterhood coming? I really need to go back and take a look at FR with that character lesson.

    How are you doing?

  3. Love Jayne dearly–but not as a love interest. Strike one: I do like an intelligent guy, and I don’t see Jayne as wanting to learn anything new, or improve himself.

    The death knell for me was the episode where he sold out for some money. At the same time, I think this is precisely what makes a story of interest–when the characters have strengths and flaws. A character without flaws is unrealistic and boring.

    So, I’d just have to use Jayne for a bit ’till I wore him out… (HAHA)

    Mal, on the other hand is extremely appealing because he is a man who has convictions and who would risk his life for them. Oh, and being freakin’ hot helps out.

  4. Stephanie, I agree completely. My stomach kind of lurched when he sold out Simon and River. Then in Jaynetown we find out he’s done it before.

    Jayne would be one purpose.

    The whole thing about the series is Whedon was brave enough to give characters aspects that were really unappealing. They weren’t one dimensional characters at all.

    Mal is smoking hot, but he really is married to his ship. He loves Inara, but will he ever really commit to her?

  5. Julie,

    Beanie says to tell you that Joss Whedon does not like happy endings and will not let anyone have one. Like (do your best biker chick voice here), in the ending of Buffy, they nuke her hometown. I am seriously dictating what Beanie is saying. Joss (he and Beanie are on a first-name basis) said this in an interview.

    Beanie also says that Mal can’t have Inara because then there would be no conflict, and we can’t a story with no conflict. DANG!!!! Are we raising a little writer or WHAT???

  6. What’s even more frightening is you are raising a little Joss who won’t do happy endings. Someone told me in the comic book series Jayne gets killed. I obviously won’t be reading that.

    It’s so funny Beanie is taking the mechanics of writing so seriously.

    Having said that, no one is worse about killing people off than G.R.R. Martin. Ugh.

  7. I’ve never seen the TV show you’re talking about (sorry, I don’t watch much TV) but I looooove what you said here:

    “On a more conscious level, it boils down to a man with confidence. There’s a difference between cocky and arrogant and confident.”

    1,000 times AMEN to that! I can find myself attracted to nearly any man who has genuine confidence. It’s the simplest thing.


  8. While I do appreciate an easy-on-the-eyes physical package, what really draws me is a good smartass attitude. There’s just something about the snark that appeals to me. Make me laugh & I’ll drool at your feet. 😉

  9. The thing I’ve learned to like best about Nathan Fillion (the actor that plays Mal) is that there is a lot of him in Mal – and in Richard Castle, his new character on the tv show “Castle”. There are even moments when Mal creeps in to Castle – and you see just how much of Nathan is in both.
    Charm, intelligence, humor, confidence and winsom-ness – without desperation. Desperation is so unappealing.

  10. I can find myself attracted to nearly any man who has genuine confidence. It’s the simplest thing.

    Exactly, Tawna. There’s a big difference between talking a big game and just knowing you can do it.

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