After 14 chaotic years Max Branning, the bad boy of Eastenders who crashed onto our screens in the summer of 2006, will be leaving the square for good. And there’s one surprising demographic that is more hurt by this news than any other: black women in their 20s.
There’s a weird thirst for the fictional character, portrayed by Jake Wood. Many of us have grown up watching Max’s wayward ways. We watched as he had sex with 14 of the other characters in the soap. On paper, there is nothing redeemable about him. He’s a dead beat, who cheats for sport, even with his son’s wife – anyone can get it. He’s a terrible father and is always teetering on the edge of criminal activity. This man has more enemies than friends. Yet confusingly the girls simply can’t get enough of their bald bae.
This is no longer a coincidence, secretly it’s a trend that black people love this man. Whether it’s Jake swinging his seductive hips in Strictly, giving Stacey the ol’ “how’s-your-(step)father” on Christmas day, or failing to vom on cue on Eastenders’ first and last messy live episode – the man is iconic.
So, black women, it’s safe to come out and admit your undying thirst for Mr Branning, as he departs. You aren’t the only one who loves the red-headed rogue of Eastenders. Here are declarations of love from women who’ve grown up fantasizing about the bad boy of the square.
Jake, we’re gonna miss you x
“The man is so sexy. He screams BDE, even though his lips are thin and his lashes non-existent. Me, I barely even ride for oyinbos like that. He’s just an anti-hero and I wish to be devoured, serve me up with some slaw.
My favourite Max moment was 2007 Christmas, him pretending the tape on Christmas day was a joke is classic Max. I love his scenes with Stacey because it’s obvious that’s the love of his life. Really I think that the appeal comes from his intensity as a character and the fact he is so irresistible to the countless beautiful women on the show must mean he can throw it down. Tanya was a peng ting, Bubbly in the fridge, also a peng ting. Stacey? Peng ting. Ruby? Peng ting! I’ve felt this way since Year 5.”
“I honestly have no idea why I fancy him so much, but I know that since the very first time I saw him on TV on Eastenders (I would have been like 13) he just had an insatiable pull. Do I agree with all the things his character has done? No. Would I be strong and sensible enough of a woman to resist him? Absolutely not. My visceral and lustful reaction to his ability to manipulate young women (like Stacey Slater) is really just testament to the fact that I, and many women, need deep deep therapy. He seems like he’d be a laugh and he’s obviously very charming and I’m not easily charmed at all.
I’d say I’m a victim of his charming sociopathy and want to believe he has a soul. Also, it’s funny, if he was black he’d give me proper creepy uncle at the function vibes. But aesthetically Max is very far removed from anyone I’d ever be around. Oh my god… I’m saying Max is my exotic man.”
“I’d say I’m a victim of his charming sociopathy and want to believe he has a soul”
“My love for Max Branning is not something I shout about, I am slightly ashamed at the burning in my chest when that feisty red-headed fox appears on screen. My favourite moment in Eastenders featuring My Ginger Daddy™ had to be the epic 2007 Christmas Day episode when Max and Stacey got caught kissing thanks to that darn video camera placed in prime position.
I think black people fancy Max Branning because he screams ‘forbidden fruit’. If you watched Eastenders, especially in your formative years, there is something so seedy and untoward about him that is weirdly sexy? He just seems to have so much sauce.
Outside of Eastenders, I think Jake Wood (Max Branning) is super corny, he doesn’t have that edge that Branning carries. If he ever reads this – I didn’t say any of these things. Not a word.”
“I found a tweet from myself in 2018, that said ‘according to the laws of science Max Branning should be the most clapped man in England yet he’s the sexiest’. There is very little rhyme or reason. And as someone who barely likes white men, I don’t fancy Jake Wood the actor. I fancy Max Branning the fictional Eastenders character. He has a certain je ne sais quoi. I can’t put my finger on it – I’ve attempted for over a decade. I have fancied him the second he stepped down from the fucking square.
Objectively the better-looking Branning brother was most certainly Jack, who I had no time for. I don’t know what it is about Max, he looks like he would be a phenomenal kisser. He’s very good at looking at women he’s romantically involved with. It’s something I’ve been roasted about by my entire family. There’s no middle ground – you either think he’s absolutely vile or you want to have his kids.”
“If you ask any of my white friends if they think Max Branning (Jake Wood) is cute, you will be greeted with an ‘absolutely not’ but if you ask my black friends they’re like ‘yesssssss’. I do feel there’s something around black women and ginger men being viewed as ‘other’ and not deemed beautiful in society that connects us, I mean – Meghan Markle and Prince Harry anyone? We know what it feels like to not be to society’s taste.
What I like about Jake Wood on EastEnders, is the way he skirts his shoes on the floor. His confidence is like an entitled Nigerian man and then he showed us he can shake hips like Jagger on Strictly? Wife me.”
Additional interviewing by Kemi Alemoru