Caroline Kepnes explains why the guys of ''Sex and the City,'' ''Smallville,'' and two other shows deserve our enduring love

By Caroline Kepnes
Updated December 21, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
John Corbett: Evan Agostini/ImageDirect

Here are TV’s men of the year

Behind every great man on TV, there’s… another great man! And that’s why’s men of the year come in pairs. Some of them sit side by side, jumping down each other’s throats on a daily basis. Some, on the other hand, rarely appear on screen together. Regardless, the battle of Banker vs. Furniture Designer is as much of a thrill as the perpetual sparring between former child star and… former child star. So, here they are, our men of the year — vivacious, witty, depressed, evil and, for the most part, mighty fine.

Chris Noth and John Corbett, ”Sex and the City”
As the human equivalent of a pair of Jimmy Choo stilettos, Mr. Big (Noth) isn’t exactly designed for everyday use. He smokes cigars, he thinks he knows everything, he’s greedy. Yet, thanks to Noth’s wink-wink mannerisms, Big is transforming from a dashing commitment-phobe to an aging loner — which makes him more pathetic, yet also somehow more appealing. On the flip side, Aidan (Corbett) is more like a pair of slides: comfortable, if a little flat. Neither man truly suffices, which is largely why ”Sex and the City” succeeds: We love the contrast between Big, who knows Carrie well enough to tell her that she’s not ”the marrying kind,” and Aidan, a suitor so kind that we all wish Carrie WAS.

Scott Speedman and Scott Foley, ”Felicity”
The question for ”Felicity” fans used to be simple: Ben or Noel? But this semester…er, season…Speedman’s Ben and Foley’s Noel are hardly boyfriend material. And we couldn’t be happier about it! Not-so-book-smart Ben has confronted ambiguity on all fronts — his professor doesn’t think he can be a doctor; his girlfriend cheats; and his dad is dying. But because of Speedman’s emotional spontaneity, Ben is more alive than angsty (his sheepish grin will never get old). Of course, none of Ben’s troubles compare to Noel’s slo-mo spiral into depression. Foley has played depression for what it is, not a crying/grimacing game à la ”Dawson’s Creek,” but as an inability to feel anything at all. He walks by Felicity –nothing; he gets a great job ? nothing. We watch the show — EVERYTHING.