tropes: second lead syndrome

Ardan: Second Lead Syndrome

Now that Victoria and Sebastian seem to be heading for couplesville, I figured it was time we revisit Ardan Kirkconnel’s character.

Let’s face it: we love Ardan. He’s hot, sweet, funny — and he’s good friends with Nicolette, despite the fact that she’s a woman of negotiable affections. (But then, who doesn’t wanna be friends with Nic, right?) Okay, so he can’t dance but nobody’s perfect.

From the comments I’ve seen, I know some of you (or a lot of you) kind of wanna sail the Ardan-Victoria (Ardoria? Victordan?) ship. They are nice to each other, have fun hanging out together, and have good chemistry. We ship them even if we know where Victoria’s heart (and her $20) belong. Because Ardan is adorable and almost perfect.

I could have made Ardan just an average guy, of course. Hot, maybe, but still nothing more than a pleasant distraction from Victoria’s infatuation with her boss. But where’s the fun in that?

If some guy is going to be a rival to the main love interest, I want him to have a fighting chance. If Victoria chooses Sebastian, it should be because she loves him, not because her other options are losers.

Ardan’s character was created for the trope we call the “Second Lead Syndrome” in Korean dramas. In just about every romance tv drama from SK, the rival for the heroine’s affections is usually someone who poses a real challenge to the main love interest. Think Jung Yong-hwa’s character Kang Shin-woo in You’re Beautiful*, or Kim Woo-bin’s character Choi Young-do in The Heirs. The SLS may be a boy-next-door type, or a bad boy. But in most cases, he has what it takes to make us question how much we want the main couple in the story to get together.

Park Shin Hye and Jung Yong Hwa in "You're Beautiful"
Park Shin Hye and Jung Yong Hwa in “You’re Beautiful”

The guy I’ve cast as Ardan is Brandon Routh. Personally, I think he’s a terrible actor (sorry, BR fans!) but he was the only Arrow cast member who could rival Stephen Amell’s hotness (objectively speaking, of course). Plus his character Ray Palmer actually dates Emily Bett Rickards’s character Felicity at some point in season three.

So don’t worry, Ardan fans. He’s a terrific guy, and I don’t doubt he’ll find a great girl someday.

* You’re Beautiful was on Netflix last time I checked, in case you want to check it out.

I'd love to know what you think of this post!

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