Unlike Lainey, I had no inkling that Blake Shelton would be named Sexiest Man Alive. When I first heard the news over the weekend on social media, my reaction was, “Huh? OK, I guess.”
I’m not fighting Blake, because I don’t think PEOPLE is using this platform to anoint a superstar. I was mostly confused as to why they would pick two men from The Voice (particularly when you could have chosen any of the three men, or all of the three men, from This Is Us, if you are going for TV relatability).
And I also didn’t get the strategic value of choosing him as he offers no gossip angle: he and Gwen Stefani are not particularly private, so even if they got married or had a baby, it wouldn’t be hard to secure that exclusive. As far as they’ve told us, they aren’t engaged or expecting a baby.
But Blake Shelton is famous and well-known and pretty unpolitical. He has made a point of saying that. He’s also boyfriend to the ever-popular Gwen, and that has immeasurably helped launch him onto this cover. (If he was still married to Miranda Lambert, the results could be the same, but it would be a country dynasty angle, not opposites attract like with G and B.)
Gwen Stefani is now wearing the SMA title like a varsity jacket, walking down the halls to let us know that her boyfriend is prom king and captain of the football team rolled into one (aren’t they always?).
She changed her profile picture.
She talked about his big heart.
She fawned over him.
And this is where I’m supposed to snark, but honestly, didn’t you always get the feeling that Gavin made Gwen grovel a bit, that he always held his “cool” factor over her, even though she is obviously much cooler? (Also: he f-cked the nanny.)
Someone on social media tweeted me that some women like Blake Shelton because he fulfills a “rescue” fantasy for divorced women in the Minivan Majority. A hunky man who will come in and love your kids and make you forget about your ex. And for that extra petty bit of revenge, he’s richer and traditionally more “handsome” than your ex, too. Maybe, to some women, Blake represents second chances. Romantic hope. A happily ever after do-over for a woman in her 40s.
And he’s not embarrassed to be adored by her (and adore her back). He doesn’t play it cool when it comes to Gwen and he never has. That angle makes him infinitely more likable and also makes his down-home masculinity a little more palatable.
I think what’s made their extra-ness in the limo or on her shoes tolerable is that they have both been through sh-t, much more than they’ve let on publicly. And in the end they’ve come out, together, happy. In that way, Blake and Gwen are aspiration.
PEOPLE’s Most Beautiful Woman cover comes out in the spring. Will it be Gwen, with an album to match? Or a wedding?