An Open Letter To James Van Der Beek
Dear James (May I call you ‘James’)?
You are an Asshole.
Let me explain. In the world of acting, there are types. The Heartthrob. The Villain. The Best Friend. The Gay Best Friend. The Smoking Hot Tomboy Who Doesn’t Know She’s Hot. The Bitch. The Femme Fatale.
I could go on.
You started off your career as The Heartthrob. I was a Junior in High School at the time. I remember my British Lit teacher, Mr. Westley talking about ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and how the relationship between Pacey and Ms. Jacobs was a very sensitive subject and while he thought it needed to be addressed, he also thought it was way too much for television to handle. I also remember being utterly confused as to why Joey Potter and my female classmates liked you. Sure, you had broad shoulders and a strong jaw, but the hair? The clothes? The time it took Dawson to realize Joey was a fox? Sorry. I just didn’t see it.
However, I did see Angus.
As someone who was bullied, I gravitate towards its depictions in media. To me, Angus is the male version of Welcome To The Doll House. Rick Sanford’s treatment of Angus Bethune, all perfectly placed emotional bark with little to no physical bite? That’s how a real bully rolls. And you nailed it.
Varsity Blues almost won me over. Almost. Amy Smart as Jules Harbor going back and forth between loving and not being able to trust Mox? Only a real Asshole could inspire that must confusion in a woman.
The Rules of Attraction sealed it. I completely bought Sean Bateman as a privileged brat and a serial killer’s kid brother. Eating “Lauren’s” love notes while masturbating? Screwing her roommate after a semester-long build up? You were every Frat Boy I fantasied about reforming in spite of his obvious indifference to me.
By then I was totally and firmly a Van Der Geek. Every time you guest starred on a TV series, I squealed like the redhead who sat in front me in Mr. Westley’s class. I heard your callous, condescending voice and melted like a stick of butter on a hot day. My favorite guest role of all has to be as Robin’s ex, Simon, on “How I Met Your Mother”. The obnoxious ego in the face of a receding hairline and expanding gut? It was so ridiculous, it was almost endearing.
I started watching “Don’t Trust The B— in Apt. 23” because Krysten Ritter won me over as ex-junkie Jane Margolis on “Breaking Bad”. Once I realized you were a regular on the show and not just a guest star, I became a rabid fan.
The cockyness. The ego. The complete disregard for other people’s feelings. Each episode brought new depths to your shallowness. Not only did it showcase you as an Asshole, it illustrated every has-been celebrity cliché in a refreshing and surprisingly dark way. You were so confident and obsessed with fame – I actually rooted for your ‘comeback’. Your “Dancing With The Stars” routine was AMAZING! I so desperately want a pair of Beek Jeans that I am considering making my own from scratch or embellishing a pair from The Gap (their pockets lack embroidery – they’re a blank slate.)
By now you are wondering if my father is an alcoholic or beat me. Why else would I be so thrilled by a person who pretends to be an uncaring egomaniac. It’s simple really. The reason Women are attracted to Assholes is each and every one of us thinks she is special and unique and can make an Asshole change his ways. Film, Television and Literature add a twinkle in his eye when he tortures, kills or detonates a nuclear warhead, which hints at sex that is so intense, I may not survive. (This is what makes Bond Villains so popular. That and their awesome hideouts.)
You sir, have that twinkle.
Each time “Apt. 23“ featured a project ‘James Van Der Beek’ worked on, or almost worked on, it was so clever and fleshed out, I wish I lived in the parallel universe where those projects exist. (You as Scott Smith, with full on 70’s pornstache? I curse the team behind Milk for not casting you and chastise your team for not turning you on to Botoxed Arm Pits sooner. Every Midwestern Bride-to-Be knows about Botoxed Arm Pits.) All this being said, the reason ‘James Van Der Beek’ worked as a character was Luther. Their relationship routinely reminded me of “Entourage“ Ari Gold and Lloyd at their best – a work based relationship with the love and compassion of a marriage and the unshakeable loyalty of an army unit.
When I heard “Don’t Trust The B— In Apt.23” was cancelled, I wept. When will I see you again? I need you James. I need to see you as a serial killer or lawyer or soulless businessman. Call Mark Park Gosselaar and tell him Nathan needs to come back to “Franklin and Bash” as a lawyer or expert witness or other recurring character on a legal procedural. The world needs to see you shine as the Asshole you are.
The fact that Hulu is streaming the entire run of “Don’t Trust The B— In Apt. 23”, including unaired episodes, is a small comfort. I’ll be monitoring your IMDB page and reviewing guest appearances on procedurals until your return.