All the ensuing hype and excitement about Maddow's rapid rise, and her quirks—the smart, self-described "butch dyke" who somehow broke into the cable-news boys' club—has masked the true reason for her success. It's not despite her differences from other talking heads, but because of them. A funny, cerebral and likable young woman who reads graphic novels and hungers for political change is more representative of the times than the older, angrier male pundits who've dominated the debate for so long. Maddow is not angry—her fans find her adorable, often confessing to crushes on her—but she is anxious, driven and determined. She did not stumble into a boys' club. She elbowed her way in, smiling.
Maddow seems to have genuinely charmed younger viewers, a Twitter-savvy, podcasting generation that has hankered for someone more like them and delights in her use of "duh," her obvious intelligence and authenticity, and her ability to be both idealistic and skeptical about politics. She eschews vanity and insists she won't stop dressing "like a 13-year-old boy" when she can.
She's quite possibly the smartest person on television right now. And she's so freaking cute, too. Like I've said before, Rachel Maddow is my girlfriend - at least on weeknights from 9 to 10 PM Eastern.