We’ve brought back Asked & Answered for a special love-themed edition, brainstormed by Kerensa and Emma. To quote Kerensa, “we thought that February would be the perfect month for this as it is the so-called month of love (and all that crap),” and the editors agreed!
So for each Friday in February (and one Friday in March), they’ve concocted a TV question related to love, sex, and romance for our writers to answer. The answers will be enlightening and embarrassing in equal measure. We hope you enjoy, and feel free to reply to the question with your own answer in the comments!
This week’s question is: Who was your first TV crush? Was there anyone that you had a crush on but were too young to realize what it was?
Jessica: Oh gosh, this is embarrassing but Bob from Reboot. I was a PBS kid so the male figures I watched tended to be paternal, friendly figures. It wasn’t until my family moved beyond rabbit ears that my taste broadened. I really liked Reboot, it’s colors, it’s early computer animation being used to give it it’s own angular look rather than badly ape what 2D animation can do. And I crushed hard on hero Bob with his blue skin and silver hair. I guess it has something to do with liking characters who get things done, and more importantly do so without whining. I am utterly without the gene to put up with brooding heroes in leather dusters. Meaning that when a second iteration of the series came round, with Bob now sporting an eyepatch, five o’clock shadow, and look-at-my-stunning-cheekbones scar I was out. Reboot‘s cheerfulness was a feature, not a bug.
Whitney: As anyone who was a pre-teen from the late 90’s heading into the new millennium would know, most (if not all) of the crush worthy characters could be found on Nickelodeon and The Disney family of networks. With lineups that boasted the likes of Lizzie McGuire‘s Ethan with his perfect hair, the introduction of Drake Bell to our TV sets on The Amanda Show, and a pre-issues Shia as the most adorable pain in the ass little brother around on Even Stevens there was little to complain about when it came to tween eye candy. And those were just what the series had to offer! Disney Channel Original Movies were basically crack to 10 year old kids who didn’t yet know to what extent attractiveness came into play in casting decisions (looking at you Erik Von Detten and Ryan Merriman).
But amidst all of these perfect looking heartthrobs and heartbreakers was ABC’s TGIF lineup and what is most assuredly my first TV crush. Cornelius A. Matthews (yeah I know his full name, judge away haters) from Boy Meets World was never the most popular kid in his own show, never even close to the best looking, and definitely not the picture of faultlessness some sitcom writers attempted to make their central teens out to be a decade and a half ago. But he also wasn’t Minkus. Now, I’m not perfect and I won’t pretend to be. I would be lying if I said there weren’t points when Shawn or Eric didn’t catch my pre-teen eye, shaggy hair, low IQ’s and all. At the end of the day I always thought it would be awesome to be the one Cory was freaking out about liking or being handcuffed to at a locker, incidentally. As the gang traversed high school and college Cory only got cuter and I only got more jealous of Topanga. Probably somewhere around Season 3’s “I Was A Teenage Spy” did I transition from thinking Cory was just my favorite character to actually having a crush on him. Even after being off the air for more than a decade I’ll still carve out time to marathon a season or two to spend time with one of my favorite group of friends in TV history. I guess it’s true what they say: you’ll never forget your first TV love.
Cameron: At first, I thought this was going to be Fiona from So Weird — the show was still on the air when I hit puberty (I was an early bloomer) and, well, Cara DeLizia is not unattractive.
But that’s not true at all. Even before I had discovered this thing called “feelings,” I was on the same wavelength as another spunky young girl in one of ABC’s TGIF sitcoms: Topanga Lawrence from Boy Meets World. It’s kinda hard to describe how this happened, mostly because I was 7 and therefore poorly schooled in the art of describing my emotions, but I always felt I could relate to Topanga more than any of the boys. This persisted well into the show’s college years, with Angela and Rachel in the mix and Cory & Topanga officially becoming a married couple.
I didn’t really put together that it was because she was like me at that age — type-A, highly neurotic about school and how other people perceived me, long blonde hair (wait, not that one) — until later, when Hermione and Paris Gellar and Dr. Elliot Reed and Shoshanna came along. So I guess my first TV crush was about finding out that I had a “type” long before I even knew what the hell a “type” was.
Emma: If you could see what my teenage bedroom looked like you would see that I had many TV crushes with posters of Pacey Witter, Angel and Fox Mulder adorning my walls. So a cocky teenage boy, a 242 year old vampire and a jaded FBI agent but really the character that I first had a crush on and was sadly missing from my bedroom wall was Dr. John Carter (Noah Wyle) from ER. I was 12 when I first saw this show and while there had been other characters that I was probably attracted to (Zack Morris I’m looking at you), it was Carter that made me realize that I wanted boys to be more than just friends. You see I was always a bit of a tomboy growing up so the thought of romance was totally unappealing, that is until I fell down the cliché hole of the hot young doctor. Carter is still a great character but is a tad too boyish for my tastes now, so when I re-watch old episodes the crush has switched to Clooney.
In terms of not knowing what a crush was I turn to the Australian soap Neighbours and the shipping dream of Scott and Charlene. They were played by real life couple (at the time) Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue and to a 5 year old me they were perfect. They sang together (Jason Donovan was the first live concert I went to) and wore matching denims (not quite as awesome as Britney and Justin’s) and I wanted to be Kylie, so therefore I wanted to marry Jason. Sadly they didn’t have a fairytale ending, but luckily by the time they split up I’d moved on to Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski.
Anthony: For men around my age (born in 1984), my response is probably cliche, but it’s true nonetheless – Ellen Hickle (Alison Fanelli), Big Pete’s best friend and confidant on Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Not only was Ellen adorable (That sweet, slightly off-kilter smile! That long, beautiful brown hair! Those deep, even browner eyes!), she was brilliant, funny, and generally much more in control than Pete was. More importantly, since she and Pete shared a (mostly) platonic friendship, Ellen taught me many lessons that informed how I interacted with women as a teenager – not all boy/girl relationships have to be romantic, relationships should be based on mutual interests instead of just physical attractiveness, and it’s okay to have a total crush on someone and still be just friends with them, because it sure beats not being friends with them.
Noel: Natalie Hurley from Sports Night arrived on my television in 1998, an it was love at first sight (sure, Sabrina Lloyd was on Sliders, but I barely remember her on Sliders even now). Natalie was driven to be taken seriously, even if her nerdy boyfriend was all doubting of her (man, Jeremy was a real drag when he wasn’t pontificating on why hunting for sport is horrible), but was still in need of support every now and then from him. “Hey,” I thought, “I’m nerdy and way less likely to not call her during my parents’ divorce, and I’d be really grateful for the big box of Good and Plenty (even though I don’t like Good and Plenty). We belong together.”
A runner-up would be smart and mature Jessie from The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. She provided a much needed corrective on Jonny’s annoying behavior, and more aggressively than Hadji would. Also: The show was pretty good, right? Or is that my nostalgia talking? I mean, QuestWorld was horrible, but still.
Cory: I have to give a shout-out to my girl Amy Jo Johnson for her role as Kimberly (aka the Pink Ranger) on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. I was only five or six when the show began and it certainly wasn’t a crush-crush, but what boy in their right mind didn’t have a little thing for Kimberly and her clearly-problematic exemplification of femininity. Pink! Skirts! Purity! The good news is that Johnson got progressively more attractive (or the makeup just got better, whatevs) as I started to realize what that actually meant. A little later on though, my attention turned to The O.C.‘s Samaire Armstrong. When you’re 15 and a little bit neurotic and emo, Anna Stern becomes the kind of girl you find yourself eyeing, even if Seth Cohen was more intrigued by the more traditionally attractive Summer. As Anna, Armstrong mixed quirk with intelligence and dry humor that I simply couldn’t–and basically still can’t–resist. I would have absolutely not let her leave for Pittsburgh.
Julie: I don’t remember ever not knowing what a crush was. I was born knowing. I was just that mature. So mature, in fact, that my first ever crush (sorry, not a TV crush) was on Boy George when I was five, because my cousin told me he was rich enough to buy me the Strawberry Shortcake castle I so desired. Obviously, I had my priorities in place even then. But the first real TV crush I remember having (OK, after Lion-O from The Thundercats and Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) was Mr. Davy Jones of a little band called The Monkees. I was in third grade and The Monkees were on Nickelodeon and I was all, “Who is this baby-faced, non-threatening, British guy with the cute smile?” I fell hard and fast for Davy Jones. Sometimes I wondered if maybe Peter Tork wasn’t just a tad bit cuter than I gave him credit for, and sometimes I wondered how my IRL crush, Jimmy, would react if he ever found out that I was mentally cheating on him (i.e. hanging out and singing and maybe holding hands IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, pervs). But I remained faithful to my first love Davy until, well, probably until I watched The Goonies again and got re-hung up on Brand.
Sabienna: Discounting Saved by the Bell‘s A.C. Slater on the grounds that a five-year-old can’t really have a crush (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), the first fictional man to make me go all weak in the knees was Mr. Remy LeBeau, a.k.a. Gambit, from the ’90s X-Men cartoon. Yes, my first love was animated, but he was also flirty, good with the quipping, and I think we can all agree that the card-throwing was ridiculously sexy. It was his pining for Rogue that won my heart though. The guy pined so good. He had this way of very earnestly calling Rogue “Cherie” that never failed to give me a serious case of what the Tumblr generation has wisely dubbed “the feels.”
Andy: My history of stomach-fluttering crushes hits most of the cliches for my age cohort, from Tiffani Amber Thiessen’s Kelly Kapowski to Jennifer Aniston during that serendipitous moment in time which saw the near-simultaneous advent of Friends, high school awkwardness, and regular access to the Internet. Still, no actress and character quite so perfectly captured my early affections as Melissa Joan Hart playing Clarissa Darling. I endorse everything Anthony wrote above, not only about 90s-era Nickelodeon (oh, hello Christine Taylor on Hey Dude, Rachel Blanchard on Are You Afraid of the Dark, and half the cast of Roundhouse), but also about the vitality of a rock solid friendship to any worthwhile romance. Your significant other should be someone you enjoy hanging out with, and Clarissa’s wit and vibrancy helped set my template for an ideal hang-out partner.
More unusually, I had a second era of first attractions in my early 20s when I gradually came to understand my bisexuality. TV naturally played a role, starting with Dawson’s Creek. Jack’s early story arc, realizing that he was gay, triggered some ruminations that had previously only been at the edges of my mind; occasionally, when Katie Holmes and Josh Jackson were getting hot and heavy, it would dawn on me that Pacey wasn’t the only one I was jealous of. The process of truly grasping where I fell on the Kinsey scale was of course longer and more complex, but television got me asking those first key questions.
Kerensa: I’m certain that I had TV crushes before him but none of them stand out as much as Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
It’s totally predictable but as a woman of a certain age crushing on JTT was required. Current lady crush mandate: Ryan Gosling. I watched Home Improvement with my parents. I don’t really remember much about the show–other than Tim Allen, that goth kid and the neighbor with his fence. At the time, I’m sure I thought it was hilarious, now, probably not so much.
JTT was my focal point. He had all that floppy hair, gorgeous eyes and was totally adorable but in my mind seemed completely accessible. I was totally obsessed–his face was plastered on my walls and I wrote him a fan-letter, a document that I never want to see. Like any crush I grew out of it and moved on to many, many other TV crushes–Tuxedo Mask, half the campers on Disney’s Bug Juice, Seth Cohen, Logan Echolls–but when JTT popped up on Veronica Mars as a troublemaking, goth teen, I was really glad to see him and so glad he got rid of that bowl haircut.
J.: You know, if I keep writing about Star Trek on this site, someone’s going to figure out I’m a geek. But no sense in denying it: as a much younger geek, I had quite a thing for a lady cast member of Star Trek: The Next Generation. No, not Deanna Troi, the more obvious “eye candy” character, with her form-fitting catsuits and goofy hair; I was in it for Dr. Beverly Crusher, her far more appealing colleague, played by the wonderful Gates McFadden. Beverly was pretty and smart, and McFadden played her with a twinkling eye and a sense of humor that couldn’t have been on the page. (A good example being the early episode “The Big Goodbye,” where she dolls up in femme fatale garb for a romp on the holodeck.) She was a woman with a tragic backstory and a show-stealing Mary Sue of a son, but she never let the bastards get her down. She also maintained one of the most show’s most well-developed relationships in her friendship with Captain Picard, which was my Mulder and Scully before there was a Mulder or a Scully. Sadly, the Next Gen writers only rarely gave her much to do, but when they gave her a episode to play with, it was always a treat.
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