Animal Collective is one of those bands that you were obsessed with if you were a teenage white boy in the mid-aughts with Pitchfork as your homepage. They are still around, but it’s no longer cool to like them, if that abysmal 6.2 for Painting With is any indication.
However, the point of this post is not to make any kind of statement about the objective quality of Animal Collective, but to explore the fact that every single member of this band looks like that one character in every mid-2000s romantic comedy who is the protagonist’s best friend, the guy who looks a little weird and is definitely a big nerd but has a heart of gold and is ultimately there for the protagonist to fall back on when her movie star/investment banker/major league athlete boyfriend turns out to be a shallow jerk. She’s says, “Oh, nerd best friend, it was you all along!” and the moral of the story is that you shouldn’t be shallow – you should date guys who look like Animal Collective. Key examples: John Krasinski in The Office, every actor on The Big Bang Theory, Michael Cera in everything. You know what I mean, okay?
Anyway, here is every member of Animal Collective ranked by suitability to play such a love interest in such a nerd-gets-hot-chick film.
Geologist is sort of the beefcake of the group and therefore also the one who looks the least like he majored in theoretical physics and lives in his mom’s basement and writes moving, plotty Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfiction. He looks nerdy in a subtly different way. He looks like he’s really obsessed with something niche and hands-on like, I don’t know, bicycle repair.
In the mid-2000s romantic comedy in which Geologist is the love interest, the protagonist is a girl who just moved to Brooklyn to find herself and she got a low-paying job as a delivery girl for a florist and one afternoon while navigating the busy streets of Brooklyn she runs up on a curb and just obliterates her bike’s tire, so she has to go to the nearest bike shop and beg Geologist to fix her bike for free so she can deliver this next shipment of geraniums and Geologist fixes her bike with few words and gentle hands and then delivery girl thanks him and goes off to live out the rest of her plot, which probably involves her getting into some unfulfilling relationship with a narcissistic novelist in his mid-40s and she’s desperately unhappy but she doesn’t realize it and her bike keeps breaking down and then one night she’s biking home from a horrible fight with her novelist boyfriend and her bike fully just collapses and she hauls as many of the broken parts of the bike as she can to the bike shop, even though it’s like 1 AM, and Geologist opens the store just for her and takes one look at the wreckage and just gives her a new bike, and she’s so moved by his generosity that she kisses him warmly and tenderly and then the last shot of the movie is the two of them riding their nice new bikes along a nice country trail while a Postal Service song plays in the background.
3. Avey Tare
My first thought here was actually that I’d messed up and Avey Tare is too traditionally cute and normal-looking to be the love interest in a mid-2000s romantic comedy but then I found this picture of him with a cat and I realized that he would actually be in one of those movies where the protagonist meets this guy on a dating app and they message each other for a while and she can’t figure out WHY he’s single because he LOOKS outwardly traditionally cute and normal-looking and he loves animals! But then he doesn’t want to meet in person and she can’t understand why so then he tells her that he has a terrible speech impediment that he is intensely self-conscious about and he works in an animal shelter so he won’t have to interact with people while he’s at work and he plays online text-based MMORPGs, again so the speech impediment won’t be an issue, and the protagonist is so charmed by him that she says, no, I want to meet you in person, let’s do this, and they develop a system of non-verbal communication, like hand gestures and winking and nodding and whatnot, so they can communicate with each other when they’re in public, and it’s all going well and they’re falling deeply in love and THEN the protagonist’s dad dies or something and she has to go upstate for the funeral and Avey doesn’t want to go because he’s nervous about humiliating himself and she insists it’ll be fine so they go and he just totally freaks out and can’t hold a conversation with anybody there and he’s so ashamed he just leaves in the middle of the night and she’s so heartbroken and she can’t understand why he rejected her like that, until the obligatory best friend character is says that he was probably just super embarrassed about his speech impediment, and the protagonist then shows up at his animal shelter and signs to him in their special language that she loves him no matter what and he’s incredibly moved and they move in together and open their own animal shelter WOW this one actually turned out great I’m gonna keep it in my back pocket for my next YA novel. Copyright Peyton 2017. Do not steal.
Deakin is like the protagonist’s childhood best friend who’s always been there for her and they can just be their nerdy selves around each other. They’re in the same Homestuck LARPing group. They’re co-presidents of their high school chess club. She’s valedictorian and he’s salutatorian. And then prom season rolls around and suddenly Beefcake Jock takes an interest in the protagonist and asks her to the prom. And she’s pretty baffled by the whole situation but she says yes because she’s harboured a superficial crush on him for years and then Deakin starts acting weird, like??? Getting annoyed with her for no reason??? Skipping Homestuck LARPing sessions??? Telling her to her FACE that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was just not that good of a movie??? And then everything comes to a head on prom night when Beefcake Jock reveals that he only asked the protagonist to prom on a dare, and he never expected to ACTUALLY fall for her, and the protagonist is so hurt and heartbroken she literally RUNS to Deakin’s home, where he is playing Civ 5 in his pajamas with five bowls of Cheetos strategically placed around his laptop, and she says like, “Deakin, I know you’re mad at me but I need you right now, I need my best friend” and then he comforts her and they play Civ 5 til the sun comes up and they win on deity level which has like, never happened, and that’s when she realizes Deakin is… the one… and he apologizes for being so weird the past few weeks, it’s just that he’s been jealous because he realized that she was… the one… and then they kiss and it’s awful because they both have Cheeto breath. But then they go brush their teeth again and kiss and it’s fine.
1. Panda Bear
Panda Bear is so – I mean. Look at him. Look at that. The perfectly mussed-up carefree overgrown hair that falls oh-so-perfectly in wavy bangs over his forehead. The three wolf (two wolf?) moon sweatshirt, a little worn in so it looks VINTAGE, sleeves pushed up to his elbows to demonstrate that he’s not super uptight, the beaded and hand-woven bracelets he probably wove by himself when he was a counselor at a summer camp for disadvantaged children, demonstrating that he’s a sensitive soul AND that he cares about the less fortunate. If Panda Bear hadn’t gone for a career in producing landmark neo-psychedelic freak folktronica he easily could have stolen every single one of Michael Cera’s roles. I don’t even want to bother coming up with a plot summary. Juno? He’s Michael Cera. Superbad? He’s Michael Cera. Scott Pilgrim vs the World? He’s Michael Cera. Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist? He’s Michael Cera. Arrested Development? Google is NOT forthcoming with pictures of Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox as an adolescent child but please believe me when I say that he is, again, Michael Cera. He’s not Napoleon Dynamite, though. That’s Deakin.