Vartan and Coop: Don’t Make Me Choose

Alias was my crash course in television fandom.

I was 12 when it premiered. Alias taught me that the definition of appointment TV is “a show you’ll speed through your math homework for.” It taught me, eventually, that TV recaps exist online (because sometimes you just can’t finish that math in time). It taught me that TV on DVD is what addiction must feel like. And, most importantly, Alias taught me the love triangle.

Will or Vaughn? WILL OR VAUGHN? Isn’t that always the question? It will always be the question. Someday I’ll ask it to some guy on our first date and he’ll either never call me again or we’ll get married that night.

I was always pro-Vaughn. I had legitimate reasons:

My mom, who was briefly my Alias viewing companion, was always pro-Will. She had legitimate reasons too:

  • Bradley Cooper is very attractive.

Literally, that was her reason. “He’s cuter.” Now that Bradley Cooper is this big star whom the world rightly adores, my mom likes to rub her Will-love in my face as proof that I was wrong—but she can never tell me what I was wrong about. I never said Vaughn was more attractive, although I also wouldn’t say he’s LESS attractive, because he’s Michael Vartan. I just said he and Sydney were meant to be together.

And here’s the thing: if I were in Sydney’s place, I’d be all over Will Tippin. Every time I re-watch Alias (sooo, yearly), I’m more convinced that we’re meant to be.

  • He’s a writer.
  • He uses words like “concurrently” in everyday conversation.
  • He’s hilarious.
  • He’s smart and resourceful and catches on to the spy business way faster than anyone should.
  • He can do accents.
  • He lets her cry in his lap.
  • He’s almost killed and everything he thought about Sydney turns out to be a lie, and the first thing he thinks about is how difficult her life is?
  • “One in five, you little bitch.”
  • “Sydney, I don’t love you for what you do, or what you don’t do. I just love you.”
  • He asks her to be his best man. HIS BEST MAN.

So I’m ready to admit that, beneath all of my legitimate reasons for Vaughn-love, the most legitimate of all might be this: it was totally obvious that they were happening. Vaughn was the one Sydney couldn’t have, and she wanted him. Will was right there kissing her, and she pulled away twice. If ice cream and fudge sauce and tequila and BRADLEY COOPER’S FACE couldn’t make Sydney want Will, nothing could. Sydney and Vaughn were always going to be the Alias couple. Maybe I just shipped them as a self-preservation tactic. Why go down a dead end street? The heart chooses what it chooses, and Vaughn’s a catch. Girl picked a good one. Let’s just be happy for her.

People like to turn it into a battle. One of my roommates in Alaska loved to yell snarky comments at Vaughn pretty much every time he hit the screen (she was on Will’s side). It was actually really hilarious and wonderful, because it was directed at a character instead of an actual human being. But sometimes the actors get roped into it—like the idea that Michael Vartan’s hotness and Bradley Cooper’s hotness are somehow mutually exclusive. They can’t both be hot. You have to choose a side. Or at the very least, you have to compare them and grade them on a hotness scale. I refuse. Look at them.


will tippin

This kind of gendered competition just will not do.

I once felt a little judged by a friend when she mentioned that Alias starred “her future husband” and I asked if she meant Bradley Cooper. Pshh, NO. Michael Vartan. OBVIOUSLY. Her implication seemed to be that Vartan is for smart people. I’m inclined to agree, and I love me some Michael Vartan, but I’m pretty sure that smart people are allowed to like Bradley Cooper too. Vartan is funny and suave and into sports and French and he loves dogs and also he’s French. Bradley Cooper is honest, talented, and gorgeous, and we have a lot in common—like being honors English majors at Jesuit universities, and being born in January. And he’s pretty excellent at French himself.

Why does only one get to be the thinking woman’s leading man? I think, and I like them both. Let’s all just cuddle and get along!


Weiss and Nadia are the cutest couple on the show anyway.


  1. OMG how I WISH twitter/tumblr had been around during the Alias days. I didn’t know ANYONE who watched and I LOST MY MIND with the S2 Finale.

    I was always a Vaughn girl. I wonder if I would feel the same way if I rewatched the series.

    Challenge Accepted.


    1. Yes! I was so isolated from anyone else who watched the show, and sometimes I just needed to talk about it! I literally fell off the couch with that finale. Off the couch. Then I think I just sat there for a while. I love it, even if what came next could never totally live up to that moment. It was still such ballsy storytelling.

      1. THE BALLSIEST. I remember watching on my VCR after I got home from a late shift and just SCREAMING.

        I kind of like to pretend the show ended there though. Melissa George was the worst. The show never QUITE lived up to the magic of S1 and S2. -K

      2. Agreed. I mean, I was really into S3 as it was first happening, because my brain was all swirly and confused and I was intrigued, but now that I know what’s coming, it’s never as fun. There are so, so many great individual eps in the later seasons, but none of the overarching plotlines can match the early ones.

        I blamed Lost for that for a really long time (maybe still do? I love the show but couldn’t watch until I’d given Alias a proper mourning period). Why you gotta steal my JAbrams, Island?

  2. I love EVERYTHING about this. And it further solidifies my belief that we are kindred spirits because I also only ever saw Vaughn for Sydney but wouldn’t mind having Will all to myself. 😉 Vartan and Cooper are both supremely attractive men, and I am happy to say that I love both of them. And if Bradley Cooper wins any big awards for Silver Linings Playbook, I’m going to cry like a baby because I’m like a proud mama when it comes to that boy and his acting career.

    Now I just want to go rewatch “Phase One” and be a total Alias fangirl for the rest of the day (Why oh why do I have to be at work right now?).

    1. Right?! Sydney can have Vaughn if I can have Will; I’d be thrilled by that arrangement. We might be the same person–I feel like I discovered Bradley Cooper. I MADE him. I’m so ahead of the curve! This makes me really protective of his career. I want everyone to know how good he is!
      And “Phase One” is the BEST. I’m early in S2 right now in my rewatch cycle (because I’m never not rewatching Alias), and even though I should be enjoying every episode, I’m really just counting down to my second favorite (right behind the pilot).

  3. I’m so, so late to this, but you should know that I was very pregnant with my first child in January 2003 and I went to the hospital on a Sunday morning with intermittent contractions. What did I tell my husband? “I don’t think this is it, but let’s go in anyway, because I either want to be home or done with labor before Alias comes on tonight.”

    I was kind of a fan. And a very clueless first time pregnant woman. 😉

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