We need to talk about Devon Gummersall. He is the one '90s celeb crush who didn't get enough attention. If you've watched My So-Called Life, Brian Krakow is the name you probably know him by. Brian nurses a hopeless crush on his longtime pal and the show's protagonist Angela Chase (played by Claire Danes). But Angela couldn't care less. Why should she lust after the boy next door, when she goes to school with Jordan Catalano, he of the cheekbones so sharp you could cut yourself on them? If you've watched the show as a teenager, you might have sympathized with the Liberty High sophomore's decision to crush hard on the dude played by Jared Leto, because you had eyes and raging hormones. But re-watching the show as an adult is a very different beast, because it’s hard not to crush hard on Brian (and, as such, Gummersall).
After all, despite his character being disdained by so many students at Liberty High School as cool person kryptonite, Gummersall is pretty cute. This is just science. Take a genuinely warm smile and masses of blonde hair and the fact that, for a TV nerd, he doesn’t dress like he dumped the contents of his closet on the floor and rolled around in them, acquiring clothes at random in clashing patterns and fits, and you have the ingredients for cuteness there. But it’s more than his looks that make Gummersall the crush we, as a generation, slept on.
When you think of the ‘90s, it’s hard not to think about bad boys: Kurt Cobain, Liam Gallagher, Ryan Philippe circa Cruel Intentions. Boys who were thrill-seekers or risk takers, who seemed a little bit dangerous to date. The joy of Brian Krakow was that, in contrast to the dominant heartthrobs of the age, he was unabashedly kind. He offered Angela his sweater when it was cold out. He tutored too-chill-to-study bro Jordan with real heart and effort despite him knowing that Angela was so into Jordan and would never, ever (probably) be into him. He helped out anyone who asked.
But perhaps, most notably, he balked at the idea of “just asking some girl for her number” when Jordan suggested the girl who borrowed an eraser from Brian would “totally sleep with you.” And that felt important. Unlike Jordan, who goes on to sleep with Angela’s best friend in a spontaneous, self-destructive moment, Brian slowly invests in people at a speed he feels comfortable with.
Sure, he’s not perfect, or anywhere close to being so. He had some of the nerdiest moments on the show, including acquiring a poorly-timed erection while looking through a microscope with a crush, who places her hand on his (the clip is aptly titled on YouTube “Oh, Brian Krakow” which feels appropriate). And he does some seriously messed up stuff. Remember that episode where he breaks his date with transfer student Delia so he can drive Angela to the dance, because he thought it was finally his chance? That wasn't OK. But, also, he's presumably around 15-years-old and so obviously his moral compass isn't as refined as you'd hope it would be when he has a little more age and experience on his side.
Still, what he lacks in finesse and sensitivity, he compensates for in qualities that seem attractive when rewatching the show as a grown up. In terms of the rough material offered, Brian Krakow is a diamond. He's intensely smart, he's genuine and can't front, and he's got the biggest heart in the show. It feels clear that he'd grow up to sand down some of those rough edges. And his actor sure proved that:
Yes, aged 38, Gummersall has grown up to be everything you might have suspected Brian would be — smooth, self-assured and with an easy charm. On top of his on-camera roles, the actor has also dipped behind the camera numerous times as a writer, director, producer, editor, and cinematographer. And if you doubt his charm, then note that, in 2015, when Cosmopolitan interviewed him about the fact that he'd finally been declared hot by a BuzzFeed article, his response was:
Of course, this declaration came in response to his role on Mad Men, in which he played one of Peggy's few good suitors, Stevie, with whom she almost absconded to Paris. As BuzzFeed has observed in the same article, Stevie on Mad Men was a lot like Brian Krakow: polite and appreciative of a strong woman.
But it shouldn't have taken until Mad Men for Gummersall's attractiveness to be seen. Sure, this might have been a weird celeb crush in the '90s, in this decade, but there's absolutely no for self-consciousness now. Gummersall is prime crush material, and he always has been since his Brian Krakow days.