TV's Leading Men Have Brooding Good Looks (and Troubled Selves to Match)

Clockwise, from top left, Simon Baker of "The Mentalist"; Jon Hamm of "Mad Men"; Lee Pace of "Pushing Daisies"; Kevin McKidd of "Grey's Anatomy"; and Ed Westwick of "Gossip Girl."
Clockwise, from top left, Simon Baker of "The Mentalist"; Jon Hamm of "Mad Men"; Lee Pace of "Pushing Daisies"; Kevin McKidd of "Grey's Anatomy"; and Ed Westwick of "Gossip Girl." (Photo Illustration By Nancy Palm -- The Washington Post)
By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, December 5, 2008

For years, women have done most of the TV viewing, but the networks are largely run by men -- men who have not been particularly attuned to what constitutes on-screen guy hotness. James Van Der Beek, really?

But lately, The Men Who Control TV seem to have finally gotten a clue -- this year being a sort of high watermark of Hot Men. Some recent additions have turned the television landscape into a veritable cornucopia of guys who are: (a) good-looking, though not prettier than the womenfolk; (b) smarter than their own hair; and (c) most important, very, very damaged. The better for chicks to save them.

1. Third Time's a Charm

SIMON BAKER, CBS's "The Mentalist"

Despite his gorgeously tousled hair and deep blue eyes, CBS couldn't maximize Baker on "The Guardian" (three tedious seasons) or "Smith" (a mere three episodes). This time, they finally figured it out: He needs a perpetual smile -- and, apparently, vests.

Damage: His character, Patrick Jane, goaded a serial killer, who then murdered Jane's beautiful wife and baby girl.

2. Retro Hot

JON HAMM, AMC's "Mad Men"

Sure, "Mad Men's" been around two seasons, but the show and Hamm's Don Draper did not become part of the zeitgeist until the TV Academy showered the period drama with 16 Emmy nominations. The smoking, the perfectly turned out Arrow-Shirt-Ad-Guy thing, the pre-P.C. chauvinism -- Draper's retro resonates for some reason. Not surprisingly, Tina Fey has cast Hamm as her love interest on "30 Rock."

Damage: Draper is the child of a hooker and an abusive dad. Shadowy identity. Saddled with nutso ex-beauty queen suburbanite wife.

3. Hot but Doomed

LEE PACE, ABC's "Pushing Daisies"

It takes some kind of actor to pull off a sexy piemaker -- particularly one who cannot clasp his lover to his chest and shower her upturned face with burning kisses. Because she would immediately drop dead. Seriously. Sadly, ABC has canceled this series, and you have only five more chances to admire Pace's big brown eyes.

Damage: Poor Ned. Accidentally killed his true love's father and his own mother with his toxic touch.

4. Evil Hot

ED WESTWICK, CW's "Gossip Girl"

It took CW suits one season to figure out that Westwick's deliciously conniving Chuck Bass is the real hottie on "Gossip Girl" and that they should give him far more prominent storylines. Bad-boy look, brooding eyes, blah blah blah.

Damage: Dad resents him because Mom died while giving birth to him. Awk-ward.

5. Hidden Hotness

KEVIN MCKIDD , ABC's "Grey's Anatomy"

Despite ABC's best effort to make him look like Roy Scheider in "All That Jazz," former "Rome" star McKidd manages to exude an animal magnetism that the increasingly bland McSteamy and McDreamy have lost.

Damage: McKidd's Owen Hunt is just back from Iraq and utterly erratic.

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