It's a tale as old as time: Conventionally attractive people in movies doing their thing, blissfully ignorant to the laws and rules that normal people must follow. Wearing a weird outfit? Don't worry—someone will pay for your makeover that would make Tan France in Queer Eye look like an amateur. Never seen studying? No sweat—you'll still get into Yale...with a scholarship. (God really does have favorites.) And no matter what? You'll probably drive a Jeep Wrangler.
First thing first, have it on record. I have nothing against a car that honestly deserved an Oscar nomination for its supporting role in Jurassic Park. It's just that, logistically, there is no way everyone was able to beep bop around their coastal town (somehow a body of water was always nearby?) and not be expected to get booked on a criminal charge against, um, being a teenager.
Most people's first cars were of the hand-me-down variety, or from the dynasty of Mr. Henry Ford. I had both of these. My 2005 Ford Focus and I went everywhere together. And since I was a dramatic and ungrateful 16-year-old, I named it Kevin after the oldest Jonas brother, because while I did like Kevin, he was not my OTP. Why the harsh criticism, you may be asking? Because I wanted a Jeep so bad.
I'd seen my childhood crushes, from Sean Faris' character Steve in Sleepover to Jake McDorman as Raymond in Aquamarine, zoom around town, windows down, breaking hearts (read: mine) and taking names. Even style icons like Cher in Clueless made a car known for its talents in off-roading become the most expensive accessory to have that wasn't the latest It bag. Demi Moore's Jules in St. Elmo's Fire even drove one as a post-grad from Georgetown, which now makes me ask: Student loans, who?!
Hot people and cars without doors are the bread and butter of coming-of-age tales, and while there are some exceptions outside of this age bracket—like Nicholas Parker in The Parent Trap or Lorelai Gilmore in Gilmore Girls—most of the time, our favorite teen heartthrobs weren't in the driver's seat unless it was in a Jeep. In the name of hot people history, I had to find whether this was a coincidence or something a bunch of Hollywood executives got together and decided on.
When I reached out to Jeep to see if they knew why their vehicle was the hot person automobile of choice for over 30 years now, they attributed it to the car being a poster child of adolescence.
Marissa Hunter, the head of advertising at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (which represents Jeep), explains it like this: "The Jeep Wrangler is like a 'fountain of youth'–in the way it makes you feel, remember, and be totally free when you're behind the wheel." She adds, "This feeling you get when driving a Wrangler, it just stays with you forever. There's a beauty in this experience that simply doesn't exist in any other vehicle on the road."
Surprise, surprise! It's just a happy accident. But it also makes sense: Anytime we see anyone driving one of these cars, actors included, their hotness scale goes a little bit up. To some, the car is a reminder of what once was; to others, a symbol of what could be. No wonder that for a brief period, all I wished for was for a Peter Kravnisky-like character to pick me up and took me to school. Curse you, Netflix!
Just know in the end, dear reader, that hotness is a state of mind. As long as cars and movies are a thing, characters will continue to look like the cream of the crop driving their Jeeps around, sans roof. But you and your used car with great gas mileage hold a special place in my heart—just not Hollywood's.