Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't judge a man by his pretty wrapping paper -- especially on television.
Looking at these gents on the surface, you'd think they had it all: Successful careers, fantastic looks and put-together lives. But underneath all sexy, these fellas represent what seems to be a growing trend in male TV characters. They're self-centered, emotionally stunted and, in some cases, have the world view of a teenager.
They're hard to love... but they're impossible to hate, too. Their shenanigans are what make their respective shows worth watching. Here are our four favorite man-boys:
HANK MOODY, Californication
There's a lot to love about Hank Moody (David Duchovny). His smart, charming, sexy and funny qualities make him a total chick magnet. However, his most overwhelming qualities are selfishness, indulgence, womanizing and substance abuse, which makes the novelist both emotionally unavailable and an undesirable partner for the long haul. (For dudes, however, he makes a great drinking partner.)
His longtime on-again, off-again partner, Karen, has put up with endless years of his transgressions. Meanwhile, his daughter has watched her father cheat on her mother endlessly and bed every woman who'd have him. Although Hank causes these women endless pain and confusion -- and feels guilty about it -- he still refuses to put them ahead of his own needs.
Hotness scale: 9
Sample offenses: Sleeping with 16-year-old Mia, Karen's almost-step-daughter. Bedding several of Karen's friends over the years.
Recommended therapy: At the end of this past season, it looked like Hank might be going to jail for a while. But what he really needs is a whole life overhaul, beginning with AA.
CHRISTIAN TROY, Nip/Tuck
There's nothing surprising about a plastic surgeon being shallow. But Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) is shallow and selfish to the point of being borderline sociopathic. Nary an episode of Nip/Tuck has passed when his behavior didn't turn our stomachs. Self-indulgent as they come, Christian must have all the finest things in life: Fancy cars, a fat crib, flawless women and any other status symbol that presents itself.
The only person he seems willing to sacrifice for is his son, Matt. And even then, we suspect it's more because Matt is related to him -- and therefore a reflection of him -- than because he cares.
Hotness scale: 8. (He could be one notch hotter if he laid off the tanning bed.)
Sample offense: Making Kimber abort his baby in order to marry him. Asking a past conquest to wear a bag over her head while they had sex.
Recommended therapy: Honestly, a person has to accept they have problems before they agree to counseling. We can't ever see Christian doing that, so he's a lost cause.
MICHAEL SCOTT, The Office
The Office's main man (Steve Carell) is childlike in a way unlike the other in this story. Naive and completely socially unaware, he's like the kid in the grocery store that says exactly what's on its mind ("Mommy, that guy is so FAT!"). He's an equal-opportunity idiot, though, insulting people of all races, ages, genders, religions and sexual orientations. How Michael remains the head of an allegedly professional workplace is a mystery. We realize it's a comedy, but still.
Hotness scale: 8 (Could be higher if he wasn't so damn goofy.)
Sample offense: In a recent holiday special, Phyllis got to play Santa at the office party, so Michael tried to one-up her by dressing up as Jesus Christ. His answer to diversity training was to assign each person wear a certain race on their forehead, and asked the rest of the group to treat them like their assigned race. In other words, stereotype.
Recommended therapy: He needs any and every kind of professional training available. Preferably some type of extended retreat.
DON DRAPER, Mad Men
At first glance, the Mad Men advertising exec (Jon Hamm) doesn't seem too terribly stunted. He's got a fantastic job, a beautiful family and, is a man about town, mixing with New York's richest and most prominent folks.
But only Don (and viewers) have an idea of how truly emotionally underdeveloped he is. We've only seen pieces of his troubled childhood, but the instability and turmoil he suffered are embedded in Don forever. He loves his wife and kids as much as he can possibly love, but we think his ability to put anyone before himself was greatly damaged by his upbringing.
Hotness scale: 10
Sample offenses: Stealing a deceased military friend's identity and starting a new life. Starting an affair with his daughter's elementary school teacher right after his wife gave birth to their third child.
Recommended therapy: Unfortunately, Don's character lives in an age where "real men" don't seek counseling. They're tough, and they rarely admit or discuss their problems with others. And that's a shame because a few years in counseling could do Don a world of good in the long run -- even if it's too late to save his marriage.