Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Fine Bro-mance

Television fiction’s love of male friendships is admirable to a point. Who wouldn’t like to see men and boys getting along? Heck, it’s better than when they’re always trying to kill each other. Still, It seems that while male characters are paling it up, females are barely given opportunities to say two words to each other. While the men engage in rapid fire exchanges of retro pop cultural banter (“Psych”), women are locked in glaring contests with other females they’ve only just met while regarding them with suspicion (Every other show on TV). Men can encourage and inspire each other while women can only sharpen their proverbial “claws” and compete with their counterparts for male attention—sans nerdiness because women, especially hot ones, aren’t thought to possess any knowledge of pop culture unless they’re on “Lost Girl”.

Except for rare occasions when teenage girls or women have their BFF’s, or the loyalty of a sister, no female on TV can spend too much time relating to another of her kind. If she is allowed such a relationship, time is spent fighting, obsessing about guys or when/if she should get pregnant. Oh but hey wait, she can also fight with her mom. Women and girls on TV are mostly never afforded healthy mother-daughter relationships. A girl can always run to her slightly dorky but understanding father, or stylish Gay male friend. If she’s lucky, she’ll have a hetero guy co-worker with a secret crush on her who keeps the sexual tension going throughout the series (“Castle”).

On TV, males can disagree, argue in court, even beat the crap out of each other only to follow it all up with a hardy back slap and a cold one at the local pub. One episode of “Medium” practically telegraphed this idea when Allison’s husband caught a younger co-worker lying at his expense. No sooner had I thought how refreshing it was to see two men fighting without fisticuffs, when the writers pulled a fast one and wrote a man-cave friendly scenario with Allison’s happy hubby triumphantly recounting to his clairvoyant wife how the two boys worked it out and, you guessed it, laughed all the way to the bar.
(Why didn’t she see this coming?)
Gosh, it sure is great how guys don’t hold grudges---uh…what?!! War? Genocide? Sports? According to the entertainment industry, male on male violence isn’t personal it’s just business but hell hath no fury like a woman….being anything other than cheerful!

More and more, the television audience is expected to view women as only incidental in the lives of male characters, while men are essential to women’s existence. In real life we know this is not the case. Men are far more likely to re-enter relationships much sooner than women following a breakup or death of spouse. This probably explains at least part of the need for the bro-centered tele-fantasies. I am not against men getting along; the world would be a better place if they did, but entertaining portrayals of men’s mutual admiration should not come at the expense of women’s.