Bones Theory

Brennan: What’s Not to Love?


Brennan: Will you be able to remain BBFs?
Angela: BFFs. Best Friends Forever!


“Write about something you love.”  Those were the magic words Sarah used when talking about writing a post here.  It’s all about the love….and I love.  Oh, yes.  I love. 

Whom do I love?  I love Brennan.  I am an unabashed Brennanite.  I read episode reviews and summaries and comments with my flaming sword at hand, ready to strike out in defense of my Temperance.  Don’t get me wrong – I’d offer to hold Booth’s beer while he’s in the bathtub any day, but I’m Dumble….ahem….I’m Brennan’s girl, through and through.  I have a major girl crush on Brennan and have since “Pilot,” when she shut the door in the face of whats-his-name.  Buy your own TV, dude.

I am a Brennanite in a Boother world. 

There was a comment recently (sorry – I can’t remember by whom) that asked, “Would you like her in the real world?” 

To which I offer in reply, what’s not to love about Brennan?

Of the three women in the lab (which definitely absolutely most positively does NOT include Daisy), Brennan would be my choice for besties.

Angela?  BONES-world Angela is self-assured and confident. In the real world, pre-Hodgins Angela-types are flighty drama queens crying on your shoulder after every messy breakup.  No thanks.

Cam?  If she’s your bff, I would suggest you watch your back.  The end justifies the means with Cam, from the sketchy presentation of evidence to falsifying college applications to strong-arming Booth into lying to her father.  With friends like that, etc. etc. etc. 

Brennan is the WYSIWYG friend.  Want to know if those jeans make your butt look big?  Ask Brennan.  Should I finish this report for work or go out for drinks?  Ask Brennan.  Need straight-forward advice that you don’t want to hear, but really should hear?  Ask Brennan.

But not only do I love Brennan, I like Brennan. 

I like that Brennan takes pride in her accomplishments without simpering, false modesty.  Temperance Brennan plays the dumb, helpless female for no man, not even Seeley Booth.  And to his credit, Booth seems to be as proud of her brilliance as he is sometimes irritated by her use of it. 

In the same vein, I like that Brennan knows what she doesn’t know, and that she is aware of her own shortcomings.  She has taken a lot of guff for rejecting Booth’s “30-40-50 years” but she was absolutely right to make that choice.  She wasn’t ready for that kind of relationship.  She was not capable, at that point, of the kind of relationship Booth wants and needs.  In a way, she was protecting Booth from herself and she doesn’t get the credit she should for being strong enough to say no, FOR Booth. 

And along that subject line, I absolutely love that Brennan approaches relationships, and love, on her terms.  I feel that sometimes it is suggested that Brennan was abandoned by her parents at a much younger age than 15, but even at that age and for those few years before she was of legal age, the experience obviously (duh) scarred her.  She responded to the trauma by turning inward and cultivating that outer shell that everyone talks about, but it’s also apparent those reserved qualities were there before her parents and brother disappeared.  The “Marco/Polo” anecdote is telling – she didn’t have any friends of her own in school and that small contact with Russ brought her comfort. 

Given her history and the lack of affection and love in her life, Brennan could be a completely different person.  She could have become one of those women who rush from man to man to man, trying to fill the holes in her life.  She didn’t. 

Brennan doesn’t get wrapped up in a relationship at her own expense, or allow herself to be used once she’s aware of it.  She has been susceptible to a pretty face (Jared and the old boyfriend/professor in “The Girl in the Fridge” come immediately to mind), but faced with evidence that something shady is happening, she doesn’t make excuses for the guy so that she can justify keeping him in her life.  She acknowledges her mistakes and moves on.   You don’t get a second chance to make a fool of Temperance Brennan.

To my recollection, Brennan has never used the words “I love you” in a romantic way with a man.  Yes, she is guarded and standoffish and reserved, and very few people are allowed to know the truth of Brennan.  She has been wounded and the walls she surrounds herself with are her protection against being vulnerable again.  I, personally, respect that attitude and that control. 

I am one of those who believe this series, BONES, is Brennan’s story.  In a way, if you want a relationship with Brennan, you have to earn it.  You have to earn her respect and her affection and her trust.  You have to breach the walls she lives behind.  The slow pace of the B&B relationship, while maddening and frustrating, is necessary because Brennan needs proof that Booth is worth the risk.  Nearing the end of six years later, I think she is finally getting there.

What do you think? What’s your favorite quality of Brennan’s? And if you had to choose one Jeffersonian lady as your BFF (or BBF, “Bones Best Friend”), which would it be? Let’s discuss! It’s BONES day!


Author: MJ

Mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, friend. Pick one.

86 thoughts on “Brennan: What’s Not to Love?

  1. The quality I most admire in Brennan is loyalty. She doesn’t share her heart with everyone; but, when she does she stands by your side and is as loyal as you can hope a friend to be. I thought it was telling when Angela broke up with Hodgins, that she was willing to fire him if Angela needed her to. Of course, Angela didn’t want that to happen and Brennan was relieved because she really didn’t want to do it. But the thing is, she would have.

    Her loyalty to Booth is something that Booth needs. It is something he has needed since he met her. Booth doesn’t appear to have a lot of friends, he is somewhat of a loner. He never had partners before Brennan and probably felt that the only one he could count on was himself. Then Brennan entered his life. Their friendship built up slowly; but, that friendship developed into a partnership. That partnership has been strengthened by the loyalty that Booth gives to Brennan and the loyalty that Brennan gives to Booth. Brennan is wary of close ties to anyone and feels that love is fleeting at best. She does recognize the love of a best friend is possible though. She may fight the idea of love in an intimate relationship; but, she does love Angela and Booth and seems to know that the love of a friend is something she can count on. If she loves anyone in the world, it is Booth and Angela. I think in her way, she loves and father and Russ; but, that comes with a wariness that they could abandon her again. In her life, only Booth and Angela have shown a true friendship and love for her that she has not found with anyone else. For this reason, she is very loyal to them and would do anything for them.

    • Reading this just now, I had a thought….Booth is needy. But Brennan is needy, too. They’re just needy in different ways. Does that make sense?

      • MJ, I totally agree.
        It would bother me more if it was one-sided. I think part of Brennan needing to be strong is her being able to be strong enough for the both of them when he isn’t.

  2. I really love Brennan’s straightforward manner. And even though I would be the one trying to teach her how to be diplomatic about it, I would always appreciate her being straight with me. It would be refreshing. I love that if I were to ask “are you mad?” or “are you okay?” that she would tell me and explain.

    I love that you used the WYSIWYG term – because I love that quality as well. No guessing games! At least, for the most part, as she is still a many layered woman and few people are truly WYSIWYG. But I think it’s clear where she stands on things, and this is refreshing. No pretending. Just being who she is.

    I love that she is strong and intelligent. It would be awesome to debate and argue with her.

    I could totally see being friends with her.

  3. First let me say, I don’t think that in order to like or love a character you have to like or love everything about them. I think you can say “I love this character, BUT”

    And with Brennan (and Booth, I do not consider myself an -ite of either kind) I love her BUT…

    I would not be her friend in real life. She would not want to be my friend in real life unless I served some useful purpose to her. She does not bother with people who cannot do something for her.

    It’s all well and good to say she has relationships “on her own terms” but successful relationships involve acknowledging that the other person has needs too, and those needs matter! Of course Brennan should not be blamed for turning Booth down in the 100th. She was not ready and of course it would be wrong to enter into a relationship on a false pretense just to make the other person happy. But you know – it was wrong to then ask him to remain her partner, “on her terms”. She even acknowledges that the situation must be painful for Booth in Death of the Queen Bee, but ultimately, she doesn’t care. She gets what she wants out of their relationship, and the fact that she KNOWS it is at Booth’s expense does not matter to her. Just like she got what she wanted from the welder and gay Jason without considering what they might want from her. I was proud of the two men for dumping her. And please, no argument that they knew what they were getting into. Their shock at learning what their roles were for Brennan is obvious when they meet each other and it’s clearly the first time Brennan voices that she’s not attracted to Jason physically, despite having told Cam and Angela that she knows Jason wants more from their relationship.

    I think what we are seeing on the show this whole season is Brennan realizing “yes I can live my life on my own terms, but I cannot expect everyone to adhere to my terms. If I want relationships with other people, I have to consider what they need and want also.”

    Of course the inevitable argument is “Brennan was abandoned, she needed Booth to stay her partner…” eh, frankly Brennan needs to build a bridge and get over it already. Actually, I think thon the show, she had gotten over it. She was abandoned twenty years ago, and she now knows it was for her own safety and she’s rebuilt her relationship with her father. I just think there’s a point in your life when you cannot keep blaming your parents for how messed up you are and Brennan is past that point. (So is Booth).

    All those childhood traumas might be reasons for the Brennan’s behavior, but I am past having patience for it being her excuse to say and do whatever she likes with little regard for other people’s feelings. Again, she can deal with people “on her terms” but she is going to have to live with other people not accepting her terms.

    Just like I am going to have to deal with the raking over I will no doubt get from this post!

    Again, I do love Brennan. She’s deeply flawed. She’s human. If you can truly say about a character “what’s not to love?” you have a Mary Sue. You have Hannah!

    • I don’t think anyone should attack you for your views on Brennan. Believe it or not, my Mother feels the same way you do Barbara. She has told me in the past, that she knows that she could never get along with Brennan and Brennan would have no patience with her. I will tell you what I told my mother. Brennan’s weakness in life is a lack of trust. She has to have absolute proof that she can trust you before she can commit a friendship with you. That can be a hard pill to swallow as most people feel that they are trustworthy. Most of us assume that our friends are trustworthy, Brennan acually needs to see it (over and over again). When the only love you have experienced in life was temporary, it will effect the way you think and interact with others. Brennan has built a wall around herself to protect herself from what she perceives as the ficklness of love; but, unfortunately this also keeps her from seeing the love that is offered to her. It would indeed be hard to be friends with Brennan; but, I think in a way once she is your friend, you would find a very loyal friend.

    • I completely agree with you about the 100th, and asking Booth to remain partners. I remember thinking at the time (and apologies in advance for the language), “Wow, girl. You’ve got balls to ask that.” That Booth accepted her on her terms sort of ties in to something said yesterday about him being a masochist. He should have stood up for himself, and no one could have blamed if he had.

      But, I wanted (still wish) Brennan had told him, thanks but no thanks, when he laid his “you’re either with me or there’s the door” ultimatum on the table after he was rejected by Hannah. That still rubs me the wrong way.

      I also think that situation affected Brennan more than she let on. Hurting Booth, knowing she had hurt him, knowing the situation was hard on him – I think those feelings played a part in her burn-out at the Jeffersonian and running off to Maluku. I think she feels deeply, she’s just obviously not very good at showing it.

      I also agree with you that people are in her life because of what she needs or what they can give or offer her, but I’m okay with that. I think we’re all like that to a certain extent. I can’t think of anyone I’m friends with ‘just because.’ They fill a role, they give me something. Acceptance? Reciprocated friendship? Love? They wear the same size shoes so we can swap? Brennan being Brennan, though, she does take that to extreme.

      Oh, and the Hannah thing hurt. Ouch! *lol lol lol*

      • Well thank you for not tearing me a new one! I think I was just super grumpy first thing this morning. I really do love Brennan, I really do!

        And all the things I consider her flaws – lots of people are like that. It’s totally okay that they are like that. I guess I just think that like everyone else, Brennan should be expected to deal with the natural consequences of their choices. That’s why I liked Feet on the Beach. No one on the show was saying Brennan was wrong, they were saying “what you say and do has an impact on people and maybe you should consider that.” Because really, that’s just part of belonging to the human race. Recognizing that what you do affects other people…

        I agree that by the last couple episodes of season 5, Brennan was feeling guilty about Booth and season 6 certainly gave her a clear picture of what JUST partners really was.

        My take on that scene in Daredevil is that Brennan was acknowledging that Booth had once done the same thing for her – supported her despite the deep emotional cost to himself. If she had said “Thanks but no Thanks”, I’d have been appalled, actually! Brennan gave him the gift of her presence because he needed her, the same way he gave her that dance at the reunion. That’s a gesture of love in my book.

        Walking out on him might have given her a minute’s satisfaction but at what cost to their future? An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind and all that. I don’t want B&B making sure they’ve each hurt each other in equal amounts. That’s not healthy.

    • Barbara, I agree with your post in its entirety. Brennan would not want to be a BFF with anyone who does not serve a needed purpose to her.
      I myself have used that very same phrase “she should build a bridge and get over it” in regards to how she approaches relationships due to her abandonment issues. With the same reasoning, what happened with her parents is long past and she has had resolution over it.
      I think you hit the nail on the head that she wants everything on her own terms and for the most part is not really interested in knowing what the other persons “terms” may be. In the Season 2 opener the firefighter at the scene is named Nelson. She has met him on several occasions, yet she considers him beneath her because there are “so many of him” and “only one of her”. The fact that she equated this man by his profession and not even as a person tells me that it’s all about her and what people can do for her. It’s very difficult to have a successful relationship with that attitude. Because she is so sure of her intelligence she approaches most situations from the perspective that she is always right and people should see things her way.
      What’s not to like, well, I’d have to say her arrogant approach to life in that she thinks she is the Queen of the Hive (think the Crank in the Shaft). Yes, she has moments of selflessness, like getting Booth the chair he wanted, but that’s rare. Those moments are usually reserved for Booth. She only gave Angela the money for the pig after they had a fight about it and it was pointed out to her that it really mattered to Angela so maybe she could “let Angela have this one.” Never mind that Angela had herself thrown in jail for contempt for refusing to testify against Max. I’d say Angela is the real friend here.
      I get that she is honest and forthright, but it would be hard going to try to be BFF’s with someone who had not social filters and was always brutally honest. I haveactually told my friends that those jeans make your butt look big and I have had to be the one to say what nobody else wants to, but I also know when to keep my mouth shut. Brennan doesn’t know that part yet.
      In Death of the Queen Bee when Booth says that she probably meant to hit the other girl with the tennis racket even if she didn’t realize it, she responds that it sounds true, but is still hurtful. Well, duh, how does she think other people feel? Just because it’s true doesn’t mean you have to say it.
      I’m just glad that Booth stuck around so he can continue to bring out her human side; which is there, but well buried.
      Personally, I’d take Angela as a BFF over Brennan any day. Your example of her crying over break-ups is not and never was Angela at all. There’s no reason to think a real life Angela would be any different. She was a free spirit who happily went from relationship to relationship. Except for Roxie who wanted the serious Angela wasn’t ready for, everybody else looked like they had fun and no baggage. Sure she struggled over Hodgins, but ultimately realized he was the one is now very happy. I didn’t notice any crying there either.

      • Barbara, I didn’t mean your comment about Angela crying over break-ups. I meant MJ’s.

        Also for the walking out in Daredevil. Booth stayed with her when she needed him after the 100th, her staying with him was the least she could do if she ever considered him her friend and partner.

      • I agree with you that the Angela we see is not the type to cry over her breakups. And I like that about her. I’m not one who believes sex = love so I admire that about Angela.

        But that’s Angela on the show. And IRL, the Angela-types I know want to be Angela but instead end up crying into margaritas on girls-night-out. Maybe I just meet the wrong Angela’s. 🙂

      • Oh I so agree with you about the pig thing. The issue fore me was never Brennan saying no to giving the money, but the completely dismissive way she did it. Brennan did not even stop walking while Angela was pleading her pig case. Her attitude was “no, and I don’t care what your reasons are and I don’t care that it’s important to you” which is easily interpreted as “I don’t care about you.”

        It’s not what Brennan says or does, really, it’s the way she does it that is…well…mean, sometimes.

      • But it *was* just a pig. And pigs die every day for the yummy, yummy bacon that I buy occasionally. And that photo might have been a year old so that particular pig might not even have been that cute anymore.

        I understand the lesson behind that episode, but it was a pig. Just another pig.

      • MJ, the photo is not the point. The fact that Brennan could not even stop walking through the lab to look at the photo before dismissing it out of hand…if your best friends asks for a favor you can’t give her five minutes of your time without saying No?

        Brennan was kinder to Hannah in giving up the sunglasses than she was to her alleged bff.

        Yes, it was just a pig. But Angela is supposed to be important to Brennan. When people are important to you, you give them five minutes of your life.

      • That’s very true. I’ll have to rewatch the episode because my response is based on thinking that Angela had already asked Brennan about the pig and been rebuffed, and the walk & talk was Angela making a point of asking again.

      • Brennan never actually asks Booth if he will still work with her in the hundredth ep. What Brennan literally questions is “Can we still work together?” which to me seems not only relevant, but also kind of understandable since Booth is probably the most important person in her life. Besides, Brennan is not the one who jeopardized that relationship ( even though fans always say “Brennan rejected Booth” instead of “Booth gambled”. Perception anyone?). She rejects him because she needs him.

      • And what about his needs? They don’t matter? Booth needed something Brennan could not give. That’s fine that she can’t give it, but to blame him for “jeopardizing” their partnership because he has needs to is grossly unfair, IMO.

        She asked “Can we still work together.” It wasn’t rhetorical. It wasn’t philosophical. It was factual. Can we still work together even though I do not want a personal relationship with you. Why on earth should we expect Booth to say yes, because she “needs” him? The world doesn’t revolve around Brennan and what she needs!

      • I know it doesn’t seem fair, and I guess it really wasn’t. It seems like those kinds of situations bring out the desperateness in people, when people tend to focus on what they want/need more than others. Remember Hannah in Daredevil when she wanted to forget the proposal even happened? Okay, you can forget her now. At least Brennan asked “Can we?”. I saw no assumption there. Booth is the one who decided to say yes. He DID have a choice. If he had said no, I’m pretty sure she would have understood. Honestly, I don’t even think she needed to ask. I didn’t see it in Booth to break up their partnership.

      • I’m not blaming Booth at all. I love Booth. I just have a problem with everyone automatically blaming Brennan when things go wrong between them. And I don’t see how her asking that question is cruel. It’s not like she is begging him to stay with her. The way I see it is that she is offering him an option to get out of the partnership. But people never look at it like that because they are hurting for Booth, and need someone to blame for it.
        Well I’m hurting for both of them when I watch that scene.

      • The point here is that many people consider Brennan’s decision on 100th ep, as a choice that brought benefit for her, but she clearly said that Booth was the one who needed protection from her. This was a choice beyond what she wanted. When this happened I actually thought Brennan was making a selfless decision.
        About Brennan being my friend… I would love to!, there’s a reason why every person who gets to know her, doesn’t leave her side. But her interpersonal interactions are limited to very few people (even with all the conferences she gives and the trips she takes) who have some connection to her whether it’s intellectual, personal or sentimental that was originally ignited by something in common or something related to her work.

  4. Would I be friends with Brennan? From a practical standpoint, I think it would be quite difficult earn her friendship. We choose our friends. Brennan seems to choose very very carefully, and it seems her friendships often begin with respect or admiration. Brennan would never have approached Angela if she wasn’t impressed by her ‘command of underlying structure’ and ‘keen spatial awareness’.

    Now, if I was amazing in some way that Brennan herself admired, I could definitely see myself enjoying that friendship. It is very refreshing (and difficult to find) totally honest friends. At times I might feel the lack of sympathy (sometimes her straightforwardness comes across as unsympathetic, even though those of us that love her, know her to be very passionate and compassionate) jarring, but sometimes a good slap in the face is what we need. I’m honestly not sure how i’d feel about someone telling others they are not intelligent. How she feels about ‘measureable intelligence’ is a concept I just disagree with. (we could debate it :)) I do love her confidence and her frankness, and especially love those aspects of her juxtaposed with her femininity. Gotta love a strong, ass-kicking, confident, and sharp woman. Also, as opinionated as Brennan is, I don’t consider her judgemental of other people’s choices. Whatever her friends decide, she’s there to support them.

    As far as other women in the lab, i’m 100% with you on Cam: be careful. Angela, well…. her character sometimes annoys me on the show (sorry!!!) but I think in real life i’d really like her. I have to disagree that Angela would be a drama queen. I just don’t see that. I actually see her as an incredibly strong woman, who loves men, leaves men, and is left by men. She doesn’t seem to let it bother her confidence either way, and she doesn’t seem to let the men in her life influence her life decisions (remember when her boyfriend (for 2 weeks of the year) died in the desert).

    So, I guess i’m saying i’d love to friends with both Brennan and Angela in real life :).

  5. I watch Bones just to see Brennan. Booth I can do without, sorry I just don’t see his appeal. (Covers head as stones are now being thrown at me.) Brennan has intrigued me from day one. She is unique, flawed, and unapologitic about it. I love this about her. She would be my pick for friend out of all the women on this show. With Angela, I’d have to spend half my time with her trying on clothes at the mall. I hate doing this. Cam comes across as self involved to me, so we would have to do what she wanted only when she had the time to fit me into her shedule. Brennan would just be a hoot to be around. She would say inappropriate stuff that would get odd reactions from people. We would go out to eat at different places because she would try to expose her friends to different cultures this way. She would also be sincere and honest in her friendship. What you see is what you would get with her. I love this quality. I like odd people they just make life more colorful and shake the world up a little bit.

    • Where have you seen Angela focus on clothes? That comes from fan fiction. She is an interesting, well-traveled artist. Why would you assume she doesn’t eat at different restaurants? Except for her it would be because she was in the mood for something different and not for any anthropological reasons, but purely for enjoyment.

      • Lisa,

        I look at what each character is wearing and how they dress. Angela has that funky mixed up style. She has to shop to get that look. There is no way she pulls off her style without being a shopper. She is also an artist so she’d have to see and feel the items she is buying. Cam looks like she has a personal shopper at Barney’s or Neiman Marcus that shops for her. I look at how Brennan is dressed and she reminds me of me. I go into a store and if I try something on and like it I’ll buy one in each color it comes in and I’m done. The reason Brennan always dresses the same is that I guess she shops like me. She likes trench coats so she just buys them in every different color and pattern. I bet if she were real she’d do all her shopping online.

    • I won’t throw stones at you! I think Booth has been portrayed as chock full of flaws too. He was quite mean to all the squints in the beginning – even the term “squint” was originally derogatory, on his part.

      And that whole sensitive, needy “I just want to be loved” thing, seems really appealing on the show (how many women said “I’ll take what you’re offering Booth!” in Daredevil?) But in real life, that neediness would get real old, real fast. It annoys me that no matter how many times Brennan assures him, you’re a good man, you’re a good father, he still needs her to say it over and over again….I get that he’s insecure about certain things and that’s supposed to be a contrast to his Alpha male image but in real life, it’s exhausting constantly having to assure someone that you love them enough, they are good enough, etc.

      I don’t think either B would be nearly as wonderful in real life as they are in the 44 minute snippets we see each week.

      • Amen to that! That’s the magic of TV. I’ve noticed in the BONES world we’ve named the different types of Booths. Jealous!Booth is really popular, but who would really want a partner/friend (whom you are NOT in a committed personal relationship with) who crashed and intimidated people you were really interested in? It’s funny on the show, though.

        And how many times does Brennan need to tell Booth he’s good? That’s why I know she loves him because she’ll tell him when he needs to hear it and it doesn’t seem like she’s exasperated. Same for Booth and all the reassurances he’s had to give Brennan.

        Although I wonder, aren’t we all needy to some extent? I could be projecting, because I know there are things that I really appreciate hearing again and again.

      • I really meant to say “crashed dates”…oops

  6. Right, my first comment is that you don’t have to like everything about a person. You can like bits and dislike others. And mention that to the person or not as you see fit.
    I love Brennan. For me, since the Skull in the desert, my very first episode.
    I like Brennan. And that is because I don’t have the patience to lie and sugar coat things. And she doesn’t. But I dislike that she won’t do it. And there people and occasions where that would be an admirable thing. Arguably, she learnt that in the proof in the pudding.
    Best friends are not chosen. You stumble upon them and you recognise the connection, the empathy.
    As for me, maybe it would happen. Maybe it wouldn’t. It still does not detract from the fact that I love Brennan with all my heart. More so than Booth, because he is so high in his pretty white horse.
    And I like almost everything about her, the harshness and the vulnerability, the unflinching fighter and the wounded girl.
    She is, hands down, one of my favourite characters of all times. Hell, she actually trumps Lizzy Bennett, Catherine Earnshaw, Scarlett O’Hara and Xhex.

  7. I admire Brennan’s intelligence and her determination. I could never be her friend because she has an ego the size of China. I’m not promoting false modesty by any means, but when one is complimented, the correct social response is “thank you” instead of “I know”.
    I love our Show because its creators have taken the two lead characters and given them both many good traits and many lessons to learn. I love that both Brennan and Booth are so complex and the Show is not afraid to expose their flaws. One of the pleasures of watching this Show is watching its main characters become better versions of themselves.

  8. Yay! I do love Brennan. Whether or not she wants to be friends I guess would be up to her, it seems, as others have indicated, haha. Not in a bad way, because I find it hard to believe that humans can be absolutely free of unselfish motives in the relationships we choose. Although I want to be a good friend, I can’t think of one relationship where I’m not benefiting somehow, even if it’s with intangibles (love, acceptance, etc.) Brennan wanted to be a lone wolf in life, just like Booth did. It looks different, because it was more apparent that Booth was opening his world more willingly to include her in it. But Brennan fought that idea, so she also fought the idea of Booth being more than a friend. I think it was for the best that they didn’t sleep together during the first case. At the time, she needed a really good friend a lot more than just somebody else to satisfy her biological urges with.

    My reasons for loving Brennan are very subjective, I admit. I see a lot of myself in her. So if I hated her, in a way it would be like hating myself. I’m not completely her, but I can follow her reasoning a lot, even if I know it’s not right. As honest as I try to be with myself, I try to be honest about her faults, but I don’t bash her or get mad at her. People want her to change, even if not in a fundamental way, but change is extremely hard, especially when you’re outlook in life is so radically different from the average person.

    I love that she is unashamedly intelligent. I love that she’s a self-made woman. I love that she doesn’t follow social conventions just because, especially if they tend to be meaningless. She is truthful, but without judgment. She lives her life her way and lets others do the same. I love that she doesn’t coddle people. I love that she can accept her weaknesses. I love the times when she does allow herself to be vulnerable (I don’t equate that with weakness.) I love that she wants to preserve her sense of self. I love her rationality (probably the most.) These aren’t really bad things, but her faults are taking these things to the extreme in her efforts to protect herself.

    Sometimes I think she’s not that different than a lot of people in how they guard themselves from pain.

    I think viewers pin her issues to be from abandonment more than she does. She never says, “I don’t trust people because I was abandoned as a teenager.” We see that, and we connect those dots. So she’s not one of those people who blames her parents for how she is. Maybe a little psychology would be good for her, so she can address they “whys” behind some of her issues, because right now she only acknowledges them and makes step-by-step changes. But is the “why” really important when she already making changes? I don’t dismiss psychology like she does, but I’m really not convinced about everything in psychology.

  9. I identify most with Brennan. I was the girl in high school who was smart and possibly pretty, but I was weird, so no one truly wanted to hang out with me other than a few select friends who were also smart and weird.

    I had a lot of friendship issues growing up, so my close friends are people I’ve picked out over the years and who I trust immensly. It takes a LONG time for me to warm up to people and if you do something to break my trust, you probably will never be as close to me again.

    I couldn’t be friends with anyone but Brennan at the lab. I’m not girlie enough to survive Angela and Cam’s personality bothers me most days. Let’s just say I’d be pulling my freebies EVERY day.

    However, I realize that Brennan and I would probably not get along in real life. While I admire the wysiwyg personality, it can be hurtful and I’m not very good at brushing feelings away. However, I’d probably feel comfortable confronting Brennan about her words, so that would be easier to deal with in the end.

  10. I have gotten the feeling lately that this show is attempting to change Brennan into a carbon copy of the other women on this show. That what makes her different makes Brennan in a way a bad person that needs to change. I don’t see this at all about her character. I like Brennan’s uber honest approach to life. I like that she is not constantly thinking, now how is what I’m about to say going to make the other person feel.

    Do I think Brennan should be more aware or concerned that her honest approach to life effects others? No really. When the other doctor, in the Feet episode, was so affected by Brennan’s peer critique, I saw it was more his problem than hers. If he is so insecure in his own abilities, he should never be given any title or authority where his judgement would ever be put into call. He would never succeed. This is where I take offense for Brennan. This is what makes her different. Why should she have to worry about someone else who is emotionally weaker than herself? The show tells her to apologize, but to me it just goes towards enforcing the other person’s weakness. It only tells Brennan that she needs to lie and change how she approaches life to make others more comfortable.

  11. I thought I would mention that I once knew someone who had Asperger syndrome. She was on the severe end of the syndrome. When I first watched Bones, I realized that Brennan seemed to have a milder version of the syndrome. This explains to me why she lets Booth “teach” her how to better interact with other people. I don’t think of her as being cold and unfeeling. I usually think of her as being autistic and this gives her a different perspecitve of the people around her.

    In The Double Death Of The Dearly Departed, I find this scene to be indicitive of what Booth does for Brennan sometimes in social settings:
    Booth: Urgh. Okay, fine. Fine, fine fine. Triple fine! Alright, I’ll call for an injunction. In the meantime, go inside to the family room where they’re making a toast, okay? Alright. There you go. (Brennan walks away) Bones.
    (Brennan turns around)
    Booth: Put on a sad face (mimics a sad face)
    (Brennan attempts a smile instead)
    Booth: No. Sad. (mimics sad face & Brennan follows correctly this time) Keep that face sad. That’s it, that’s it.
    She doesn’t get offended that he is telling her how to act in a sad situation. She actually listens to him and alters her facial expression. She has trouble reaacting to social situations and she lets Booth school her when he and more importantly, she, thinks it is needed.

    I know some people think she would be a pill for a friend and in truth, her friends seem to think that sometimes . And yet, they do love her and respect her. Her friendship would be a hard thing to keep; but, Booth and Angela think it is worth it and I admire their patience with her and Brennan’s patience with them.

    • Good Lord, that never occurred to me! I recently watched the movie “Adam,” and the title character had Asbergers and I can see similarities.

      I’m not sure I totally agree, because I tend to think that Brennan is unemotional on purpose, but I can definitely see the possibility of maybe mild (high functioning?) Aspergers. Can you have a mild case?

      • this is from WebMD
        Although there are many possible symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome, the main symptom is severe trouble with social situations. Your child may have mild to severe symptoms or have a few or many of these symptoms. Because of the wide variety of symptoms, no two children with Asperger’s are alike. Children with Asperger’s syndrome may:

        Not pick up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others’ body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking.
        Dislike any changes in routines.
        Appear to lack empathy.
        Be unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others’ speech. Thus, your child may not understand a joke or may take a sarcastic comment literally. Likewise, his or her speech may be flat and difficult to understand because it lacks tone, pitch, and accent.
        Have a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age. For example, the child may use the word “beckon” instead of “call” or the word “return” instead of “come back.”

        Many respected historical figures have had symptoms of Asperger’s, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Thomas Jefferson.

      • I guess it’s silly for me to try and ‘diagnose’ Brennan when we only see her life 40 minutes at a time. So, call me silly. 🙂

        Some of those remarks I can see in her. Others, not so much. I do think she deliberately cultivates her reserve and apparent lack of empathy, that those qualities aren’t necessarily ingrained. She’s clearly able to adjust her behavior, to change (or “improve”).

        But, I’m only a paralegal and the only thing I know about psychology I learned from Dr. Phil. Which makes me pretty useless on the subject.

      • Aspergers is a known as a spectrum disorder – so yes, in a way, you can have a “mild” case. HH has spoken to this idea, but has basically said that it is possible that Brennan could have this, but they have not, as character creators and developers, officially given her this designation.

    • I can’t reply to the Aspbergers post, but here goes…

      I think HH has said previously that Brennan is based a little on the condition, but they didn’t label her because it might have brought down viewership.

      People who are extremely smart are usually on the Aspberger/Autisum scale in some way. I remember hearing an interview with Temple Grandin (She is famous for having autism but functioning in society and she specifically said that most people who are smart and work in computers or science are on that scale to a degree because you have to think differently to come up with some of the technology we have today.

      That being said, I do see traces of Aspbergers in her personality. My husband is very smart and I would categorize him as a low end Aspberger. I’ve had to teach him over the years what is appropriate regarding society, mainly because people thought he was arrogant when he was simply telling it as he saw it.

      I think the issue with labeling her is the apparent regression. She’s been taught how to “deal” with people over the years but it seems like we have to re-teach her every season or every new person. Dr. Goodman once said she has a steep learning curve, so I guess it’s troublesome that she hasn’t kept what she’s learned… or at least that is how it seems in each episode where she learns a lesson.

    • My psychiatrist is also a Bones fan. She puts Brennan at that very high functioning end with some minor/mild Asperger’s traits. She thinks Zach has more dysfunction and more Asperger’s traits.

  12. Given the way the character changed from season to season, I would not use Aspergers as the reason for her behavior. Brennan knew how to behave at funerals in season 1 just fine.

    I can sell myself on emotional reasons for a change in her character but sudden onset Asperger’s is too much fanwanking for me.

    • She also used to do and understand sarcasms in S1…

      As I see the pig thing, it was a plot device that I think what not needed. Brennan the queen of rationality didn’t ask any explanation to Angela in skull in the desert when she said she knew where Dany was, that was Brennan letting Angela have that one…

  13. Oh yes, I’m a giant Brennan fan, too.

    Of all of the characters, she’s the one I “get” the most. I envy the fact that she’s comfortable with saying that she doesn’t know something.

    Would I get along with her if she was real? Possibly. I’d probably annoy her, though, with my museum/art/history nerding (although… hmmm…), but we’d probably agree over Egyptian mummies. And she’d probably be fine with the nerding moment I had yesterday about art in the funerary context.

    Honestly, if I could meet any of the Bones characters, it’d be Brennan and Hodgins.

    • OK, I have to add to the Asperger’s thing. My close cousin has been diagnosed (it took until he was 13, you wouldn’t have noticed other than his difficulties with change), my other two cousins have been diagnosed with similar disorders, my friend here at school has it (think Zack, and I mean, so, so, Zack), and we’ve been trying to get me officially diagnosed since I was fifteen, but other complications (ie money, time) have arisen, and I’ve given up on that. I was diagnosed with something similar (sensory integrative disorder) at six, and I’m just settling for that (for now) and finding my own resources.

      Yes, I do think Brennan has it, noticed it from the pilot episode (my first episode), actually (I remember that moment, even). There are people with AS that nobody realizes they have it, like my cousin (or they themselves don’t realize it). My disability services guy at school loves the show specifically because of Brennan’s Asperger’s traits (he told me so recently). Obviously, the guy works with all sorts of people on the spectrum, so he of all people would see it.

      I think that this is why I’ve picked up on Brennan more than any of the other characters. Sometimes the situations are so similar, I have to take a step back, it effects me so much. Doctor in the Photo in particular struck me, especially with the last scene with Micah (although the comments about noise REALLY struck me earlier on, I’ve complained about that for years to my family).

      Also, with the vast way Brennan has changed, I’ve observed it with my friend and with my cousin — people with AS tend to have periods where they fluctuate in severity of symptoms. In periods of a lot of social stress and many changes at once, the AS traits come out more. Last semester, it was really tough communicating with my friend, because all she did was ask the same questions over and over again, and this semester, we have dinner every Tuesday and we have conversations (although Aspie conversations are not regular social talk, I call social interaction (small talk, questions, esp personal questions) my third language). She’s gone through these periods a few times, and I’d definitely say that there are fluctuations. Everyone fluctuates, actually, it’s just more noticeable when people stand out a little more than others.

  14. Lovely post, though it makes me sad, as always, that there’s such a division in the fandom, where many identify either with Brennan or Booth, and will take up arms against those in the other camp. (I’m NOT talking about you, btw, MJ. I will note, though, that it sounds like you feel like you’re in a minority (Brennanites) while I know Booth-lovers who no longer visit any board or forum due to the Booth-bashing that’s gone on since the 100th. (Which, of course, leads to people defending him by attacking Brennan, and the cycle continues.))

    My favorite quote on it was in a forum sometime last summer where someone said, ‘Booth and Brennan are like my kids – I love most whichever one is hurting the most, and will defend to the death whichever one is currently being attacked.’ That’s me, I guess. People probably assume I’m a Booth girl – and I am – but I’m also Team!Brennan. It was Brennan that hooked me into the show, and I admire her for many of the reasons you’ve listed here, and love her for some you’ve not emphasized as much.

    That said, I want to clarify something. I’m the one who made the comment recently about, ‘if you knew Brennan in real life, would you like her?’ and I think my point was misunderstood. I wasn’t saying that Brennan is, in any way, an unlikeable character. Not at all. Rather, my point was that we see her in a way no one in her life does. We see how she is with her dad, and with Angela; we see her when she’s reading to Russ’s stepdaughter in the hospital. In other words, while many of us assume that Booth knows her better than anyone…we see sides of her that even he doesn’t see (which doesn’t mean he’s unaware of them.)

    So when we confidently say, ‘yes, I’d love Brennan in real life’ – which Brennan? Yes, I’d much prefer to have a friend who I can count on being honest (and I think this is very much something Booth needs her for, and that he knows that) but if you met someone like Brennan at work, would you hang in there with her long enough to see past the in-your-face-honesty, to the compassion we, as viewers, know is there? Do we assume that if we worked with her, we’d always do things to suit her and never be on the receiving end of her perfectionism/criticism? That we’d have something to offer her in ourselves that would make her reach out to us rather than simply ignoring us unless she’s got something to criticize us about?

    Do you see the point I’m making? It’s not that those behaviors are the sum total of Brennan. We know they’re not. Her team knows they’re not. Booth knows they’re not. In fact, everyone who loves her knows they’re not. The question, though, is if you met someone who treated you the way she treats most people she meets – until she opened up to let you see those pieces of her that most don’t see – would you like her? Would you want to get to know her better? Or would you roll your eyes and avoid her whenever possible?

    Some would, absolutely. They’d see her brilliance – which is all I suspect a lot of people ever see in her – and want to know what was behind it, and would be willing to risk the insults and condescension to find out. They’d keep trying to do something that would earn her respect enough to be taken seriously by her. (I think the squinterns all fall into this category. They’d all crawl through burning glass for approval by her. And when they were first accepted into the program, all they saw was that brilliance. Now, they, like her team, have seen the truth of her, and want her approval even more, I think.)

    Others…probably wouldn’t. Even people who love passionately the Brennan we see would, in real life, not stick around. And that’s the point of the show, I think. That there’s this brilliant, beautiful woman who is loved and prized by those who take the time to get to know her, while others miss out because they let her caustic words run them off…much as happens in real life. I worked for a university for over 20 years, and knew people like Brennan. People it wasn’t always easy to be friends with, people who usually had few friends. I heard the things people would say about them, particularly if they’d tried to reach out and been rebuffed.

    Brennan is a lesson for us, to look beyond the exterior of those around us. But I think that starts by looking at how she treats people who are not in her inner circle and asking, ‘if she treated me like that, how would I respond?’

    • I hate the Booth and Brennan bashing too. I like them both and hate it when someone demeans Booth or Brennan. I guess this why this is only site I visit. Sure we disagree about the things that our favorite characters do; but, and this is important to me, we don’t name call and we at least try to see the other persons point of view. You may hate how Brennan treats Booth and someone else may think Booth is not much. I see two flawed characters who try. It is the trying that I love. They strive to obtain goals that are important to them. They fail. They try again. They give up and then something happens and they try again. The struggle is sad to watch. The happiness when things go their way is so lovely.
      Wow, I hope that made sense.

    • Ryn, I always admire the things you say and how you say them. I also usually agree with them, but in this instance when you said that people have to take the time to get to know this brilliant, beautiful woman and deal with insults and condescension to find this out..what is Brennan doing in the meantime?

      Being one of those strong, independent women I am also very honest and straightforward so that my friends and family will come to me when they need to hear the truth even it will hurt them so I relate to Brennan on that level. However, I wouldn’t stay around to hope that one day Brennan would throw me a crumb and allow me to call her friend especially since from your post it would seem like all the effort would be on my part. If I have to do all the work cultivating this, then it’s not a friendship.

      For me to want to be her friend, she would have to prove to me that she is a beautiful person as well. I need more from her than to know about her science and her books. I would need to know what type of person she was as well.

      Brennan is really no better or worse than anybody else on a personal level. For her to make people “work” for her friendship just goes back to condescending attitude for most people who don’t have a shiny bauble for her.

      It’s one thing to be cautious about who you let into your heart and your inner circle, I tend to be that way as well, but if there is someone I find interesting or amusing and would like to consider them a friend I have to give something of myself as well, so that they would want to be my friend.

      • What is Brennan doing in the meantime? I want to be careful here, because for the most part, we don’t see a lot of interactions between her and people she doesn’t know unless they’re suspects or victims (or relatives of victims.) But my sense is that she ignores people – and/or can be quite insulting/condescending toward them until or unless they do something to intrigue her or catch her interest. I have an example in mind, but want to re-watch the ep before commenting further on it.

        So, yes, she certainly does the same thing toward others that many do to her – that was sort of the point. She dismisses people, and I suspect that many who defend that behavior in her would be dismissed by her. The people she takes an interest in, I think, are those who have something to offer in some way (that intrigues her), who persevere with her. They don’t let her abrasiveness, condescension, or dismissal scare them off, and stick until her interest is caught and she makes an effort to get to know them. But in the real world, most people don’t go to those efforts with abrasive people, sometimes to their detriment.

      • Ryn, I can’t reply to your reply, so I’m replying to mine! That’s what I mean. The other person has to persevere to win Brennan’s interest or have something she wants that intrigues her *the shiny bauble*. It shouldn’t be that way. People shouldn’t have to take her abrasiveness to finally have Temperance Brennan say “okay, you can be my friend.”

        I’m a pretty wonderful person (as I’m sure you are too-as are many people) with many interests and a few talents. Brennan would be lucky to be my friend. Why is it up to me to have to “work” for the friendship. Brennan denies herself a richer life by dismissing most of the people who come into it.

    • This reminds me of something Professor Higgins says to Eluza Doolitle: “it’s not whether I treat you like a common flower girl, but whether I treat anyone like a lady”
      Brennan is equally truthful no matter who she talks to.


  15. Well the thing that frustrates me about the Brennan vs Booth camps is that each seems to take up a position that the character they are defending probably wouldn’t hold.

    I don’t see either of them wanting or taking any pleasure out of punishing the other or demanding whatever atonement fans think is necessary.

    I’ve seen nothing from either Booth or Brennan on the show to indicate that they are anything but regretful about the past and cautiously hopeful about the future. If Brennan doesn’t hate Booth and vice versa, why should I?

    • I agree with you. Booth and Brennan overlook each others faults. They do it because they love each other and don’t have to punish each other to prove a point. Your right. If they don’t want that then we shouldn’t either. Besides it would waste valuable screen time. I want them together as a couple as soon as the writers can work it out. We don’t need Booth and Brennan acting like kids when we want them to be together in a loving relationship. One precludes the other.

    • Totally agree. Neither Brennan or Booth would ever take pleasure in punishing the other. I don’t think either one feel that there is anything for them to be punished for.

      I don’t think there is either. They are both wonderful, rich characters who complement each other beautifully.

      He has been good for her and she has helped him see things differently as well. It’s win/win for both of them.

    • Can you imagine what kind of show we would have if Booth and Brennan held perceived slights against each other? I wouldn’t be watching, that’s for sure. Both have said enough potentially irritating/hurtful things to each other to fuel a heap of animosity, yet what we’ve always seen is forgiveness-and to steal from a different and equally wonderful post-grace. They use misunderstandings and accidental slights (never intentional) to learn about each other, and then they move on with affection-can’t we do that as well?

  16. rynogeny, I completely understood the question behind your question, which lead me to thinking about what I would say if I were asked the question. Geez, that sounds Dr. Seussish, doesn’t it?

    For me, the reasons for being firmly in Brennan’s corner and less so in Booth’s are personal. I identify with Brennan in a very personal way. I’m no where near as brilliant as she is but I am, in person, standoffish and reserved. I have a lot of casual acquaintances but I can count on one hand the number of friends I have. I tend to speak without thinking and unintentionally (most of the time) offend or irritate. And sometimes I offend or irritate on purpose because the other person annoys me. But to the people I love . . . my friends, my kids, my family . . . I am not that person. And they understand that, even though I irritate them at times, too.

    So, when I look at Brennan I see myself. And in ‘defending’ Brennan, I’m defending myself.

    Which is all kinds of just weird because, duh, she’s not real. Mostly. 🙂

    And it’s the same with Booth. I see hero-worship for him, what happens with women all the time – make excuses for the guy and tell the woman she has to change to get her man. Argh. Which makes me metaphorically stomp my foot and pout and refuse to agree that Brennan needs to change at all.

    One IRL lesson I hope I’m learning from BONES is the one you mentioned – look past the exterior. I’m not sure if HH and TPTB intended for BONES to be a morality play but it has that side effect. For me, at least.

    And if any of this makes sense, I’ll eat my keyboard. 🙂

    • I thought you might be identifying with her. It’s sort of what we do with characters. I identify with pieces of her – and with pieces of Booth, never mind the gender issue. And even those areas where I know I’m not like Brennan, I know people who are.

      I’m very empathic. I can’t help but imagine what it’s like to be someone else, which is why I can generally see other fans’ viewpoints on the show so clearly (even if I don’t agree with them.) But that means I tend to see each exchange between Brennan and someone else from both points of view.

      And what I felt like people were saying was, “In RL, Brennan would love me, we’d be best buds” when that’s not supported by the show – or, in my experience, by how people like Brennan are usually treated in RL.

      As to her needing to change…nope. I don’t see that, don’t see the show turning her into Cam or Angela. But since she was presented as being opposed to a long term, committed relationship, if there is to be a long term relationship with Booth – or anyone, for that matter – she has to at least change that much, to be open to that possibility. And to be successful in a relationship, she has to be shown as being able to compromise, because that’s a requirement in good relationships. (And I’d be willing to bet that this is when someone will go off on Booth as not being open to compromise, so I’ll just say up front that I don’t see that. I think he’s been shown to be willing to compromise on some things and not on others – like many of us, actually.)

      So I see Brennan changing in the ways necessary for a relationship, but not in her essential self. But of course, others view that differently, no doubt in part because of how they view her “essential self.” (note- I’m typing this on a keyboard that won’t let me scroll back up and proofread so if I’ve committed a grievous grammatical, spelling or philosophical error, I blame it on that and apologize in advance!)

    • MJ,

      I totally understand where you are coming from and I feel that exact same way that you do where Brennan is concerned. I guess I empathize more with Brennan, because I have more of her characteristics. I see Brennan experiencing her life more internally, than externally. That is how I too live my life. The phrase that struck me the most was in the scene In The Doctor in the Photo where Brennan is laying in bed and you can hear her voice saying that just because someone is alone it doesn’t necessarily make them lonely. I, like Brennan, find comfort in being alone. External influences do bother my thinking and how I feel. Her oddities are enduring to me and in find that I feel or empathize with her character, more than others in the cast, because for me she is more real. She, more than the other characters makes me feel more. I understand often why she does what she does and it doesn’t bother, like it does most others.

      Television viewing is subjective. There is a reason why there are so many different kinds of programming and characters being developed. Not everyone sees or connects with the same types of characters. I loved the Brennan character after seeing my very first episode. I wasn’t a David Boreanaz fan who followed him to this show from his previous work. So, he wasn’t what drew me to this show. After catching an episode of Bones on TNT and consuming three seasons of it in two weeks it had me hooked. Brennan was the reason why. I fell in love with her story and her as a character. She was fresh and unique. I had never seen a character I could identify with before her. I loved that about this show. I felt something when watching a television show that I’d never felt before.

      I think my viewing experience changed drastically while watching this show in season five. The characters started to do things that just didn’t seem in character. As a viewer, I started defending what I felt was changing about the show and for me it was that for some reason Brennan wasn’t good enough and she needed to change. I never got that feeling from this show before season five. Up to this point I was just watching an interesting story with fun characters. Until season five I guess I never really put that much thought into who I liked the most on the show, or why I was so drawn to it. But in the end, I did think about it and Brennan was the reason. I don’t like that now I feel like I often have to defend her. That isn’t why I fell in love with this show. It is now how I feel I have to watch it though. I side with Brennan’s character more because I feel more for her. I have less interest in Booth because I don’t empathize with his character or see the show from his point of view. It would be great if I liked or cared about each of these character equally, but that just won’t happen for me. Seeing things from Booth’s point of view isn’t how this show has held my attention, or why I initially fell in love with it. Brennan is why I tune in with each new episode. I watch because of her. It is her story I want to see the most.

  17. I agree with almost everything you said in your post MJ…except for one thing….would I like Brennan? I don’t believe that I’m a Brennan or Booth basher. I’ve defended both very strongly in another fan forum. I love this romantic duo and believe that, for the most part, their behavior has been justifiable given their past histories. However, what I object to is how very different Brennan of today is compared to seasons 1-3….and even 4. She is not the same character. I believe most of us accept this. I could be wrong. So, how do I continue watching this show and accept the changes in Brennan? By justifying her changes as a result of her experience with Zach’s breakdown and Booth almost getting killed and even with the disappointment of not having a child. Having said this, I think that the writers went way OVERBOARD in changing how she looked and how she behaved. I don’t like having to justify why a character’s behavior has changed based on my own “deductions”. Its not that I want to be hand-fed the reason for something. I just feel that something as dramatic a change as what we see in Brennan should have been alluded to in some form or another throughout these last 2 seasons. For me, the very fact that people all over the boards discuss the issue of…why did they change Brennan…is sufficient for me to know…it’s not ONLY me that has seen something different in her. Its something that is widespread. I don’t believe its the evolution of Brennan…it’s a complete change of Brennan. I know this is controversial and I don’t write this to bash her or to create conflict. I simply believe the writers have some explaining to do which I know I will probably never get. So do I like Brennan…I like Brennan from seasons 1-4…the person they created subsequent to this…not so much. Yes, I appreciate her excellence, her brain, her loyalty, and even her heart…but I don’t appreciate this overboard socially out of touch person the writers created these last 2 years. I used to get very angry at the other fan forum when people called her a robot. I defended her like crazy…but then this season happened and the change to her character was a wake up call for me…..they change was too much and I could no longer ignore the sentiments of people that had been saying this for quite a while now. Don’t want to create conflict here. Just an honest opinion. 🙂

  18. Brennan’s ability to give to others and do little more than acknowledge it shows the heart of the woman. She pays for a funeral because it’s the right thing to do; she makes sure that a mother has a gathering of people at her son’s funeral rather than be all alone. She’s comforted suspects and victims despite her “coldness” and she’s (probably) paid for one of her interns to remain an intern. While she will readily admit to being smart or beautiful, she rarely does more than give a nod to having done something nice for someone else.

    Yes, she can be incredibly insensitive, but she can also be incredibly generous and thoughtful in ways that can be breathtakingly beautiful. Just her profession alone, identifying the skeletal remains, provides insight into who she is. Few people would want that job because it is messy and heart-breaking and a reminder always of the worst of people. Yet, she continues to do so with a great deal of respect and dignity for the deceased. While she might ignore the motives for murder or fail to look beyond science for understanding, she gives the dead their identities again.

  19. The bottom line for me though is that while we are free to be whomever we want in life, that does not mean our behavior doesn’t affect other people.

    If we are to give Brennan — or any character — due kudos for their virtues, its just as reasonable to hold them accountable for their faults.

    You can go thru life not giving a crap about what anyone thinks and saying whatever you want no matter how hurtful and giving as little as you feel like in relationships but don’t be shocked when the people around you don’t bend over and say “thank you may I have another”.

    Frankly I don’t think Brennan would give me the time of day unless I were a dead body — and I’d have to be an interesting dead body at that!

    • I think that’s part of the character development that they’re going through with her character that’s gotten such mixed strong reactions. (See: The Feet on the Beach.) I believe I’m going to be watching BONES ’til the end no matter what, but this in this season moreso it seems like there’s always this lesson they want her to learn to develop her character. And really, life lessons are good, but it kind of feels like a parent who wants their child to be well-rounded and are on them constantly. Sometimes I just want them to just let her be, or at least let her come to some conclusions by herself instead of people telling her what she should be doing all the time. I’m just glad that she pushes back and comes up with a response that fits her.

      If Brennan gives you crap, I think she would expect you to be upfront with her, and she will respect you more for it. I don’t think she means to steamroll over people because I think she has the expectation that people can fend for themselves just like she does. She’s more willing to take a step back when it’s someone closer to her. Ryn was really good at pointing out that it makes a difference what context we see her in. She’s usually working, and she’s superfocused when it comes to her job, so I think she’s less likely to notice things than when she’s in a more relaxed informal setting. No, she doesn’t “make nice” with others in general – it’s not like she’s looking for friends. She’s not going to care to have a conversation with somebody about the weather or their kid’s soccer game when she’s concentrating on identifying bodies and collecting evidence at a crime scene. She’s not a people person, and it is what it is. With those kinds of people, more than with others, you really have learn to not take a lot of things personal, or else you’ll be giving yourself stress ulcers while they are fine and completely oblivious.

      Barbara, it’s probably true that Brennan may not give either one of us the time of day unless she were identifying our bones or we were helping her identify somebody else’s. But I think most people don’t give people they don’t know the time of day. You have to be in a certain region of a country that’s known to be friendly, or meet a really outgoing person. This is one of those Brennan characteristics that I don’t find to be that unique when I really think about it. (On a whole, I still think she is very unique.)

      • Well you know the Feet on the Beach was a really interesting episode….and while I see your point about Brennan seemingly learning a Very Special Lesson every week and it’s not particularly subtle either (it’s like a sledgehammer!) But I also think Booth is learning lessons too.

        In the Feet on the Beach, it’s Hodgins who says just what you do – he tells Fillmore to just be upfront with Brennan, she can take it. That “lesson” isn’t just for Fillmore, it’s for Booth (although it’s more symbolic of course, as Booth isn’t in the room to hear it). While it always appeared that Booth was “upfront” with Brennan (about herself and her needs) when it comes to his feelings, and his needs, he’s really not. I think back to Cam and Sweets telling Booth to hold back, to not tell Brennan the truth because she was fragile and it would be an assault and I really HATE that dialogue. I just don’t think it’s true. Booth tried to protect Brennan from feelings she was already pretty sure were there. If they’d talked about it….well, I don’t think Brennan would have answered him any differently (she just wasn’t ready and the semantics of his offer didn’t matter, IMO) but it might have left Booth in a less emotionally ragged, desperate state. Certainly things are better for both of them, separately and together, now that they are being more uprfont – or as upfront as they can be while still talking in their usual codes and riddles.

  20. I love the character of Brennan, but I don’t know that we’d get along in real life. For one thing, despite all of the reasons that I love the show, I hate the way it portrays plus-sized women. I feel like Brennan would meet me, look at my size 16 figure, and say something insulting about my health or appearance or what have you. And given her propensity to say things about tribes and such around black people, I also feel that she would be difficult to have as a friend as a socially aware person of color. I’d have to explain a lot, and well, I already have enough clueless white people around me for that. I’m also a scientist, and I’m trying to imagine having her as a colleague or boss; I think she’s always fair and not cruel, but she doesn’t have a mentoring style that fits with my needs, so I wouldn’t want her as my research advisor. I do think that she would be a good, loyal, loving friend if I were to form a friendship with her, but I don’t think that would ever happen. I know a lot of brilliant, interesting people who are also outwardly friendly, kind, and open, so I don’t particularly take to people who come across as condescending, rude, or arrogant. The show allows me to see the layers behind Brennan’s outward facade, and also to understand the experiences that shape her personality, but in real life, first impressions count for a lot, and in many ways, she doesn’t make a good one.

    I feel the need to say that this is a hypothetical assessment of how this character would strike me were we to meet briefly in real life, but it doesn’t mean I love her fictional character or the show any less. And there are certainly people I admire but whom I don’t click with personally.

    • She definitely has made comments about people’s appearances, so I can see that point. But based on her interactions with Dr. Goodman, Cam, and Clark, (what other people of color have they had on the show?) I haven’t seen anything other than the fact that she doesn’t care about color but only looks at it from an anthropological standpoint.

      • C-Bones, I don’t think the color of a persons skin is an issue for Brennan. The issue is the way she feels free to comment about someone’s appearance. In the Mummy in the Maze, she told that nurse that she needed to lose weight and she also had the nerve to say to Caroline that perhaps she needed to exercise more. Which caused Caroline to give her that raised eyebrow look. Even way back in Season II with Howard Epps mother when she bluntly told Booth about the smell being because she was so overweight. Yes, that was honest, but probably not appropriate.

  21. I have to interject here that discussions like this are why I keep coming back to this blog in particular.

    There are obviously some diametrically opposing viewpoints but everyone is so . . . “nice” isn’t the right word because that just sounds wishywashy. Respectful. That’s the word I want. Everyone is so respectful of the opinions of others. It almost makes me want to say something really snippy just to see if I can start some sh..crap, but I will refrain. 🙂

    And, it’s all done without moderators telling everyone to play nice.

    I just think that’s fabulous.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  22. Lots of good comments here and a very intriguing post. I think both main characters have been set up so that there are very apparent strengths along with significant flaws. I think that those who have commented that the fans tend to be tougher on either Booth or Brennan than the characters are has it spot on. Each have delivered insults to the other on everything from their respective intelligences, emotions, faith, and many other areas. But they make those allowances toward each other that a lot of people might now. I’ve been a somewhat strong Booth defender this season, because I felt that he was being blamed for things that either weren’t his fault or not blameworthy.

    That said though, if I met the real Booth in person, I don’t think I would take to him right away. I find him arrogant, unprofessional, and even condescending at times, though he has balanced that with other, good traits, and even the negatives described aren’t prevalent. The same would go with Brennan. I think unless they have a lot of patience or a reason to stick around, most people would discount her beyond the obvious measures of what she is and what she states: her wealth, her looks, and her profession. I’ve found that most people aren’t masochistic enough to continue to be insulted or condescended toward when they have other options. I think she is a very empathetic person, as rynogeny and others have said, when she chooses to be. But where I do see her falling short is seeing things through others eyes. It’s one thing to have a healthy sense of your abilities, and quite another to have a tendency to evaluate people in terms of their value to you, or at least as explicitly as she does. That invites isolation, which isn’t always a bad thing, but can be. I have seen her trying this season though, and moderating some of those tendencies. If I met Brennan or someone like her in real life, I think that if I got past that initial reserve, then she would be a very good and loyal friend. But I were that firefighter mentioned in the season two opener and referred to in these comments, then I would write her off after having been on the end of that dismissive attitude. In the end, she’s a complex person…she doesn’t have to change, but if she wants more things out of life than what she has, perhaps some small adjustments are in order. I would say very much the same thing for Booth as well.

    • I’m intrigued at seeing a man’s point of view. For this kind of show, those are rare.

      Speaking of rare, I’m not nuanced enough to do it myself, but I’d like to see something written on the lines of how sexual identities are dealt with on BONES. Or, not dealt with. There’s no judgment of Angela and Roxie. There’s no reaction to (can’t remember the name of the tech in Gormogon’s vault) who took himself off the suspect list by saying he was gay. There have been other story lines involving same-sex couples and there hasn’t been much of a reaction. Which is to the show’s credit, obviously, but as a bisexual woman myself I’m always interested in how TV shows portray lifestyles outside the usual man/woman hookup. Even my beloved BONES. 🙂

      • Ah! I’d like that too.

        I’ve been trying to express in comments on posts about Booth here in the past that my opinion of Booth has nothing to do with his widely discussed droolworthy looks, without admitting men’s looks don’t have me drooling in general. But I never really managed :-).

        Maybe that’s another reason Angela (and I) likes Brennan. She is just not the type to hold any prejudice or judgment about things like that.

      • Maybe someone better at picking up those threads than I am will address this in a post. It would be fascinating.

      • I would be *really* interested to see something like that as well. I think that Bones has handled many of those situations that you mentioned really well with the ‘non reaction’. There was however one episode that really bothered me. The Girl in the Mask is probably my all time least favorite episode partly because of the dynamic between the the visiting anthropologist and the squints. It bothered me that an entire story line in the episode was dedicated trying to figure out if the anthropologist was a man or a woman. That was the one and only time I was bothered by how Bones handled sexual identity. It would be really interesting to read more about that.

  23. Love, love, love Brennan. I could totally see being her friend in real life. I’d feel honored if I had a friend like her, who let me into those closely guarded secrets. How can Sweets and Booth stand it? You know she’s never told anyone about the whole trunk thing before. If I were in their shoes I’d feel extremely lucky. I’d gladly take any faults for the wonderful, beautiful traits she exhibits.

  24. My favorite thing about Brennan, just as it is with Booth, is her pure heart. There’s the prickly, competent exterior that she shows to the world, but there’s also a childlike wonder which is always a shock and a joy to be shown because it’s in such sharp contrast to how she appears. Her happiness at the Egyptian mummy, her delight when Booth took her “dining and dashing”-I’ve come to like her a lot through the years (it wasn’t always so) and now I find myself smiling when she’s happy. I know she’s not real, but I care about her regardless and root for her to get the things she wants out of life.

    As an aside, I don’t necessarily think it’s a Boother world after all; just go to about any other site out there and you’ll get Booth-bashing like you can’t believe. So much so that I wonder why these commenting “fans” continue to watch the show, since he’s such a big part of it and of Brennan’s story. I think what many of us do here when Booth is brought up is to defend him against what we perceive is the unjust vitriol that has been hurled his way since the 100th, and not bill him as the perfect man, which most of us know he’s not. It’s just a reaction and it doesn’t mean we love Brennan any less-although maybe some of us are just a bit starry-eyed over the big guy….

    • You bring up a really good point. I have often defended Booth even though I wouldn’t consider him my favorite character (Hodgins is the one character for me who can do no wrong!).

      There’s a sizable cache of the fandom who consider Booth’s relationship with Hannah to be literally infidelity. I don’t know if it’s residual feelings about David Boreanaz or over-identification with Brennan, or projecting or what…but there’s a whole lotta Booth hating out there.

      Someone way upthread likened the Boothite/Brennannite standoff to friends who side with one side or the other of a messy divorce. The thing is, while the fandom is off squabbling over who did whom wrong, the couple are quietly reconciling in the background.

      • I remember reading horrible things about Brennan too after she rejected Booth in the 100th; the stuff about her “promiscuity” and her interactions with Hacker were truly apalling. Some people just want to see the worst in everyone, I guess. I don’t know what to call these mean-spirited followers-Fanemies? Enefans? (Hmmm, that last one sounds appropriate…) What I’m grateful for is knowing that I never have to wince when I come here.

  25. As a general rule, I don’t dislike anyone on the show – even Daisy (ducks to avoid the flying tomatoes). That being said, I think I have probably been frustrated with/annoyed or irritated by something that just about every character has said or done at one time or another. I get over it. Usually pretty quickly.

    While it’s true that I identify more with Booth than Brennan, I still love Brennan’s character and I can honestly say that I “get” why she does much of what she does – even if I don’t agree with it. Same goes with Sweets wonky behavior this season. Because I don’t want to be someone who unilaterally sides with one character all the while bashing the other (and I do think “siding” with one character over another is different from identifying with one character over another), I do my best to understand the situation from the character’s point of view. It doesn’t always work, but it helps.

    As far as Brennan in particular – I understand the desire to want to defend her, I really do, but I think Barbara and rynogeny are right on the money in their assessment of her. We’ve been given a very clear view of her character, and, in particular, how dismissive (and downright rude) she can be towards some people. She’s learning to soften her responses, to temper the truth with a little bit of kindness this season (with Booth at the end of The Killer in the Crosshairs, with Fillmore at the end of The Feet on the Beach, and even with VNM in The Truth in the Myth), and I love that – but she’s still not totally there yet. That tendency towards harshness is still very much a part of who she is – and that cannot be overlooked no matter how much we may like her.

    We (the audience) know and love Brennan because we see EVERYTHING about her. We know the beauty she’s hiding – and we love her for it. But we would not have that benefit in real life. And the simple truth, like it or not, is that a real life Brennan would walk past most of us (not quite everyone, because there are some ridiculously smart people on here, but I digress) without a second glance.

    I really loved rynogeny’s question a couple weeks ago about whether or not we would “like” Brennan in real life, mainly because I felt that it didn’t just speak to Brennan’s character, but to our own as well. Rynogeny may not have meant it that way, but I can’t help asking myself – how would I respond to someone who treated me the way we’ve seen Brennan treat countless people over the last six years? Would I stick around and keep trying to be friendly (with the hope that one day I might get to see the beauty inside) or would I walk away without a second thought? We may WANT to be the person who hangs around and tries to look deeper, but really, would we? That’s not an easy question to answer. At all.

  26. Really, I watch Bones just for Brennan. She has been my favourite character since day one, and I always find myself trying to defend her. Just the other day, my new-to-Bones-friend was listing to me her favourite chracters, with Booth up the top. I casually said, “I like Brennan better,” and she was shocked!! Really, what’s wrong with Brennan?

    So I’m with you MJ, I would choose Brennan to be my BFF for all the reasons you said and more. As a friend, her most appealing qualities would have to be her honesty and loyalty. You could probably talk to her about anything and she’d just listen and then say the truth of what she thinks, there would be no misleading comments. Just straight forward answers. I also love that once you have her respect, Brennan is very loyal. Although past episodes have told us that she is terrible at lying, they have also told us that she is pretty good at keeping the truth to herself unless she thinks it is completely neccessary. (Eg. She tells Sweets that Daisy is cheating on him in The CInderella in the Cardboard, because she sees it as the right thing to do – however, in The Proof in the Pudding (i think it’s fair to say) she lies to everyone about the results so that Booth will be able to live his life with confidence in his government and himself)

    However, those characteristics aside, the aspect of Brennan that I love the most would have to be the fact that she follows her own set of terms when it comes to about anything. It’s refreshing! And I would be interested to learn each of her terms, like Booth. I’d love to be one of those people who could sit back and just understand her motivations behind an action that everyone else finds cold-hearted. Brennan is probably my favourite character of all time because of all these reasons.

  27. Thanks for this post. I love it.
    I’m a Brennanite. Brennan is why I watch the show. Therefore I have to protest against some of the things mentioned in the comments above:
    First of all. What has always been made out by fans to be the biggest cause of Brennan’s social problems is the abandonment by her parents. And sure, that probably didn’t help, but to me it is very clear that she has had these problems long before that.
    Brennan has some Asperger traits. These traits are not something that you just “build a bridge and get over”. And I’m glad. It would be way to easy and completely unnatural if she would just get over it. I hope she never does. There are many people in the world who float somewhere between autism and “normality”. I have two in my family. They don’t just magically become social butterflies when people stimulate them to be more social.

    Yes Brennan sometimes comes across as very arrogant, but I believe that is because she gets stuck in one way of thinking sometimes (the academic scientist brainy world way of thinking), and has trouble switching to “social (heart) mode” (whereas Booth sometimes gets stuck in an emotional view on stuff that needs an scientific eye. Just saying). This results in her sometimes using the wrong approach for the wrong people/situations.

    What I love most about Brennan is this: If you need to know the (potentially painful) truth about something there are a couple reactions you can expect. Some people will tell you what they think you want to hear, which doesn’t get you anywhere. Some people will judge you for what they think is wrong and tell you what you should do in a moralizing or emotionally judgmental way, which makes you unhappy. But when Brennan tells the truth she tells it because that is how she knows it to be. There’s no false pity or emotional judgment behind it. She’s completely guileless and academic minded, but never gets personal. I love that.

    I think It’s also a problem for Brennan that women are expected (by society and eachother) to be very good at skills having to do with emotions and sensitivities. Men who are socially awkward are much more often portrayed/represented in media and even thought of as cute/goofy. Women tend to think a socially awkward woman like Brennan must act like that on purpose. In that way I think the Brennan character is kind of a pioneer.

    I realize this comment is probably too long for people to bother reading it at this point, but I needed to get this out so I can sleep tonight.

    • Brennan having Asperger’s is not canon. It’s never been stated in the show, it has only been vaguely mentioned in a few interviews. In my book, it’s just not canon.

      • I didn’t say she has Asperger’s I said she has some Asperger’s traits.
        However you look at it. She’s obviously not “normal”, and was never meant to be.

        I did the math once. There have been about eleven crime related shows in which the leading female character lost her mother/ parents in childhood (Law and Order S.V.U/ JAG/Crossing Jordan/ Castle/ etc. etc. etc. But none of these women have been created as being socially handicapped the way Brennan is.

        And there are a lot of things that are seen as being canon by fans, even though it has never been canonized by the show.
        For example. The reason for Booth leaving for afghanistan being that his devastation over Brennan abandoning him. That’s fancanon, not showcanon.

    • I think you’ve hit on something with your comment about what we expect from men vs. women in the area of personal relationships.

      Every so often, I catch an episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY. Sheldon is – well, he’s Zach but funnier and without the serial killer connection. But he’s funny, and no one seems to expect anything different from him than his eccentric brilliantness. Because he’s a man? (Or because it’s only a sitcom?)

      We expect more from women, like Brennan, because they’re women, and women are supposed to be touchy-feely and intuitive and all about “let’s talk about our feelings.” And when they’re not like that, we want them to change to be like that.

  28. You know, I charge for space occupied inside of my mind! I can take payment in smoothies and sundaes, if you can’t pay in daffodils. I kid! But seriously, this is my brain every time I see somebody making disparaging remarks about Brennan. She’s obviously not perfect, of course, nobody is…but yeesh.

    I have my own Brennan. She’s sometimes abrasive, very self-aware, and kind of hard to take in sometimes. She’s one of the best people I know. But boy, when I was younger and we didn’t know each other well, we were like oil and water! Just DID NOT mix. Now I consider her one of my sisters-by-association. I tell you, if you’re lucky enough to have somebody who is Brennanesque — don’t let them go. They’ll only make your life better, no matter how much you want to STRANGLE them sometimes because they can be stubborn as a mule.

    Okay. That said! Brennan rocks so much. Just…the character. What an awesome concept is that? The title character in a show, and just…she’s Brennan. She’s awesome. She’s seriously the best TV role-model I can think of. All little girls should watch BONES for Brennan! I turned out okay without it, but still; I’ve always had heaps and heaps of confidence. I honestly don’t know if I could pick ONE quality of hers as my favorite. All of them are what make her Brennan. Her confidence. Her vulnerability. The fact that she can be the dumbest smart person ever sometimes. That she can admit when she’s wrong. Knows when she’s right. I could go on, but I’m sure the nice people who have commented before me have pointed them out.

    I have actually known a few real-life Anges, though. Heck, I’ve got a lot of Ange in me, flaky artist and all. Some of them are nice folks. A lot of them will drive you insane, though, I will give you that. And Cam…well, no, not BFFs. Her character is incredible, don’t get me wrong. She’s amazing, and we would totally get along. I’d get along with Daisy, too, though I’d qualify her as a ‘girl’. 😉 I have patience for perky little darlings. Brennan, though…yeah. Brennan.

    I’ll shut up now, while I’m still coherent.

  29. I personally find that Booth and Brennan are quite alike, then why don’t I defend Booth more often?
    Well, simply because up until now, it seems to me that people were mostly on Booth’s side on forums so he didn’t need to be defended, that has changed apparently since Hannah, but more importantly I have always felt and still do that show is on Booth’s side. He is rarely being called out on his flaws on the show, even the ones he shares with Brennan who is called out on them.

  30. Excellent post MJ!

    I adore Brennan.

    I’ll admit at the beginning it was hard for me to like her. I loved her in the Pilot onwards, don’t get me wrong, but i could admit to myself that, if she was real, i’d have probably hated her.

    But i can also admit that, if i met Booth, i wouldn’t like him initially. I’d want him, flirt with him and hit on him…but i wouldn’t like the man.

    On first view both Brennan and Booth are very similiar…they are both very arrogant, can be condensending to people they feel are ‘different’ or unworthy and they both can be needlessly cruel. BUT…that’s on first view. It’s only when you look that much deeper that you see there is more to them…so much more.

    They have their negative personality traits but they are offset but everything else that they are. Nothing can take away from the loyaltly they show, the kindness they can demonstrate and the steps they take to protective those they love and those they’ve never met.

    Both of them can be extremely unlikable….it’s a testamount to the story HH has told that he’s created two characters that people will go to bat for.

    Now….as for BFFs i’d be happy for Brennan OR Cam.

    Brennan the friend you turn to when you need the truth…Cams the friend you turn to when wanna get laid 😉

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