They are the pathetic masters of alchemy who have somehow managed to turn the lead that is their own low self-esteem into a golden image of themselves as knowledgeable in the ways of the fairer sex. You know them by sight, usually, before they even open their mouths to remove any remaining doubt. Those guys on TV shows–usually sitcoms–who are forever chasing after women and putting on an act which insists you view their tales of conquest as anything more than the feverish fantasies of a diseased mind. Sitcom males who see themselves as modern day Casanovas when in fact they are much closer to being human Chevy Novas.
Howard Wolowitz: The Big Bang Theory
Before he inexplicably landed the fair Bernadette, Howard Wolowitz was 21st century television’s reigning pathetic ladies’ man. Tight pants, dickey, moptop and lack of a doctoral degree notwithstanding, Howard Wolowitz consistently seemed to believe that he both deserved and was capable of getting a woman like Bernadette. The good thing about Howard Wolowitz is that he becomes a positive role model for real life wannabe Casanovas who could learn an important lesson in not letting a woman willing to put up with you to get away. One memorable episode of “The Big Bang Theory” has Penny delivering some hard truths to Howard about the depth of his pathetic commitment to being a Casanova that ends with a much-deserved punch to the nose.
Herb Tarlek: WKRP in Cincinnati
Herb Tarlek was the Howard Wolowitz of the late 70s/early 80s. Except that he was not a nerd and definitely nowhere near a genius. But the tight pants and dickie of Howard is reflected in the wide belts and garish suits of Herb Tarlek. Tarlek was the sales manager for one of the lowest rated radio stations in Cincinnati. One can understand why a nerd like Howard would think he was a Casanova but is instead really a pathetic Casanova wannabe. That’s the story of most nerds. Well, if “Mad Men” has taught us anything–and it probably hasn’t–it’s that advertising salesmen get lucky on a fairly regular basis. So maybe the pathetic loser ladies’ man act by Herb Tarlek was just that: an act.
Barney Fife: The Andy Griffith Show
Yeah, yeah, I know. If I was going to pick Don Knotts character to list as one of the most pathetic ladies’ man in TV history, why not pick Mr. Furley from “Three’s Company.” Two reasons. One, Mr. Furley was a replacement character and the show was not very funny to begin with. More importantly, however, is the fact that Barney Fife is usually overlooked in writing the history of television’s wannabe Casanovas. Yes, true, Barney had a very devoted steady in Thelma Lou. But that didn’t stop him from stepping out on the sly with Juanita the waitress, hitting on every attractive newcomer to Mayberry and practically being forced into a sham marriage by a husband/wife con artist. Barney Fife did not dress the part of pathetic ladies’ man, but he is the philosophical brother older brother of Herb Tarlek and the grandfather of Howard Wolowitz.
Manny Delgado: Modern Family
Sad to say, Manny Delgado on “Modern Family” is well on his way to becoming a pathetic ladies’ man. Manny has more class than just about any of television’s most infamous Lotharios, but just because he dresses nice and takes the time to actually care about the girls he sets his sights on is no guarantee of Manny growing up to become a Cary Grant instead of a wannabe Casanova. The fact that Manny is an old soul who seems hopelessly out of touch with his own generation is likely to create a legacy of failure, disappointment, resentment and transformation. In the real world, it would not be surprising at all to see Manny become as out of touch with the reality of his own attractiveness as Herb or Howard.
Zapp Brannigan: Futurama
Even in the future, women will be subject to the unwanted affections those who style themselves after the great lover, Casanova. Zapp Brannigan has all the tools of a much more successful ladies’ man. For one thing, he fits the stereotype quite nicely of the concept that all women love a man in a uniform. He is a successful space soldier, not bad looking, has a great voice and cleans up nicely. Nevertheless, Zapp Brannigan is merely a 31st century version of Howard Wolowitz and Herb Tarlek.