Battle of the Sexes, Part 2: How Has the Fall TV Season Treated "Wussified" Men?

Earlier this year, as the fall schedule began to materialize, two gender-related trends emerged. One said it was the year of the strong woman, the other said it was the year of the weak man. But how closely are the shows that allegedly embody these themes actually following them? We've already looked at how women have been portrayed this fall, but are the men faring?



Last Man Standing
The Background: The ABC show is really just a vehicle for Tim Allen to return to television, but the car he's chosen is a turbocharged Mustang surrounded by Smart Cars. Allen admits the show is Home Improvement except with daughters, which gives him even more reason to grunt and wipe his testosterone all over the place.
The Promise: Allen said, "There’s this little bark. I’ve always felt that men are pushed in a corner. We don’t have many skills. We can’t have babies. The No. 1 reason women are different from men is that they’re able to have children. We don’t have anything left. And this barking produces a new kind of guy." But he also acknowledged that it's pretty much a guy coming home to "four women who are intelligent, fun-loving, and strong." See? He had his cake and ate it too.
What We Got: Not gonna lie, of all the new "men are insufferable wimps" shows this season, this one actually does men (as our bare-chested and hairy forefathers were) the most justice. Allen's character is still a "man," per se, he's just a man living in a woman's world. It's a much different take than the other shows in the category, which focus on spineless whimpering fools.
Final Judgment: Last Man Standing is a typical "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" situation. But at least the "man" on the show can change a tire.



Man Up
The Background: The series was picked up *after* Tim Allen's Last Man Standing, so it lost a lot of thunder and was largely dismissed as that "other show about men not being manly." Without a major star in the cast, the show has flown under the radar and has mostly been mentioned in passing as people (like me!) write stuff about the proliferation of non-manly shows.
The Promise: Creator and star Christopher Moynihan said, "My grandfather was wounded on the beach in Anzio, Italy, my father was a cop in the Bronx in the 1960s, and when I was in my mid-30s I spent most of my time sitting in El Pollo Loco with my friends talking about Batman. I was just a different kind of guy you know?"
What We Got: This show is different than the rest because it doesn't just feature one guy who's a pansy, it features three of them. The takeaway is this: there are a lot of pansies out there, and not enough exfoliating moisturizer for all of them. Man Up attempts to provide a better cross-section of the men it's trying to bring to light—the mid-30s videogame-playing set—by including more of them. However, they're all the same, they're all paired with women who belittle them, and they're all pitted against "ideal" men with muscles. Instead of these guys being comfortable with themselves, they're always just trying to be something more. Not cool, dude!
Final Judgment: Man Up is by far the most egregious statement that men are sniveling little wimps, and women are the ones who wear the pants, boxer briefs, and jock straps.



How to Be a Gentleman
Background: This CBS sitcom has already been canned due to atrocious reviews and ratings, but the idea was that a wuss who practiced proper chivalry (Andrew) would butt heads with his bro-y high school friend and personal trainer (Burt) as the "dude" tried to make a real man out of the "prude."
The Promise: "The gentleman’s game is just being a mannered, respectful person," creator and star David Hornsby said before the show premiered. "I think that’s where the two worlds collide. You have Burt dragging Andrew to a bar to pick up women. Giving a line to a woman can be a very tacky situation. So Burt has his own angle in to pick up women, whereas Andrew tries to find the higher road."
What We Got: How to Be a Gentleman never tried to pretend that all men are like the lead character, a prim-and-proper stick-up-his-ass who got hammered after drinking half a beer. Instead, Andrew was more of a sketch-comedy character living in the real world, where everyone was more manly, and even more contemporary, than he was. From that perspective, it was really just a show about a clueless guy, and not a statement about the loss of masculinity in society. But the media likes to talk about trends, so there you go.
Final Judgment: How to Be a Gentleman wasn't an insult to men, it was simply an insult to comedy.



Up All Night
The Backstory: The NBC sitcom is a pretty standard "we're new parents" comedy, but the spin is Will Arnett stars as stay-at-home dad Chris, who quit his job at a law firm to stay home with the kiddo while his wife Reagan (Christina Applegate) wins the bread and makes the bacon at her full-time job.
The Promise: There wasn't much focus on Arnett's character, Chris, being a sack-less shlub. But Arnett did, at one point, touch on the idea of today's man not needing to take charge when he said, "The story is not the same as my story, but there's so many universal themes here that I identify with, which are spending my 20s and the bulk of my 30s with very little responsibility outside of my own health and that of my wife, and then of course, culminating with starting a family."
What We Got: For the most part, Up All Night doesn't treat Chris as part of a new breed of man who's skating by while women run the world. Instead, he's like many other new fathers in that he's confused about how to raise a child, and scared of the traditionally feminine role he has to play. The show deals more with how old-fashioned gender roles are changing than it does with pointing at a guy in designer jeans and laughing.
Final Judgment: A harmless look at a stay-at-home dad.


The notion of an emasculated men trend appears to be overblown, as Man Up is really the only show that perfectly fits the mold of pansy guys getting walked on by strong women. The idea that new fall shows like The Playboy Club and Pan Am empowered women was much more severe.


What do you think of this season's "emasculated men" claims? What have various new shows gotten right or wrong?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Sounds like a pretty good plan to me dude. Wow.



www.real-privacy.es.tc
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This isn't something that's unique to this season; the "feminization" of television, or at least television catering more to a female audience than a male audience, is something that's been going on for decades. Remember when TV use to have shows like The A-Team (a show about four guys beating people up), Knight Rider (a guy and his car) and Battlestar Galactica (guys blowing up robots)? This season it just seems more pronounced.

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Absolutely!

The feminization of TV (or wussification) has been going on for. The guy or husband is always some dumb schlub while the wife is beautiful, speaks as though she's always got the right answers, and the guy is just inexplicably lucky to have her.



This is a great article that you have here and very glad that you've brought this up - for me personally, this is something that I've REALLY been noticing and not been happy with.



Although, I will say that the real masculine characters on TV these days all seem to be on the more serious "Cop" & "Law" shows that're all so popular now.



I guess they feel that it's too tough to make actual "men", funny.
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Man Up is a great show. I don't think it's about woosified men at all. I think you're missing the point of the show. The leading man is a good man and a strong dad and he's trying to be the man his dad was. He chooses to be a real man when he can be so that his son will look up to him in the same way. And his wife doesn't belittle him any more than any other sitcom wife in tv history. She loves and respects him and wants to spend time with him. That's a positive marriage role model if you ask me.



The divorced man has his share of problems but it's really his ex-wife who is the crazy one. She wasn't portrayed as a powerful woman when she tramp stamped the 11 yr old girl.



Really I like the show cause the guys are my kind of guys. They are nerdy video game playing men just like me and my friends. It's the first show I've seen that shows the modern married man like he really is, enjoying what we enjoy and struggling with what we struggle with. And the show has constant laughs for me, unlike that Tim Allen show... even though I like that show too because his character rings true.
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Well the worst part of this is that you don't notice that all 3 of the friends are indeed absolute wusses who don't get any respect from their wives, and frankly, don't really deserve it.



Guys hanging out with headphones playing video games is something that's popular, but not exactly grown up.



Watch the show again for when the guys don't agree with their wives, but quickly, immediately cower when the woman looks at them with a stern look. Even when the women are dumb, they're still "right" and do whatever they want because they're the ones in charge - while the guys sulk. THAT is a wuss.

It's like a child being scared of their mother!

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It's just a coincidence so many shows like this emerged at the same time -- and a bad coincidence given that they would be contrasted, and in all probability cancelled, so that only one will survive. While the men may be wusses or what have you, the system is cut-throat, and as is with Thunder Dome, only one shall leave (sadly, it'll probably be Tim Allen).
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You didn't mention any of the shows deserving to stay. Do you like any of them? I watch Last Man Standing, but it's not that good. I've watched 2 out of 3 Man Up episodes, but only because they followed LMS. I tried the others listed up there and found them to be horrible.
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"I've always felt that men are pushed in a corner. We don't have many skills. We can't have babies." Oh ya look at us women pushing men in a corner ON PURPOSE because of our baby making skills? You're more than welcome to trade skills with us. God I hate Tim Allen.
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How about Chuck? if anyone personifies a Wussy it is Chuck! Just makes me sick--"I want to buy you the house u want, wah, wah, wah!"
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Haha I love Chuck but yeah, he can be like that most of the time. He wants the perfect ring, the perfect proposal, the perfect wedding, etc etc. I just chalk it up to him being a hopeless romantic.
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Way back in Antiquity, when there realy was a patriarchy, and men defined their own voices and masculinity in their own terms, the trend was away from the primitive view that masculinity was about machismo, chest-thumping, and physicality. Masculinity in those days was increasingly defined in terms of transcendence of animal urges and in terms of intellectuality and spirituality. It should be noted also that Antiquity was the age that gave us the tools of abstract thought-- logic, mathematics, phylogeny/taxonomy, explicit ideals, philosophy, and the monotheistic model of personhood. It was the beginning of thought as we know it, and those "dead white men" (as the feminists call them) at least stumbled into their somewhat one-sided view of reality innocently. The feminism that infects today's conventional wisdom can't call itself "innocent." It is vindictive, and given its own critique of phallocentric thought, it knows very well how the sex of the inquirers that dominate a discourse can result in a worldview in which the other sex comes out evil, corrupt, mostly useless, and so on. Has anyone out there ever seen a man or an anti-feminist in any gender-studies departments? Yet feminism claims that its thought is diverse.

--- Today's notion of masculinity is a caricaturish, primitive notion of a society that's been feminized, and with increasing numbers of boys raised by feminized women and taught by feminized teachers, today's men are about as able to articulate their masculine voices as women in the Middle Ages were to articulate the feminine. Real men are deep thinkers, or at least self-disciplined idealists (with high ideals, not superficial ideals like touchy-feely non-violence, thinness to the point of anorexia, or material entitlements). Real masculinity has nothing to do with showy Mustangs and tech-gadgets, end-zone celebration-prancings, or mouthy trash-talk. That's what whipped men in a feminized society are left with, and since the criteria for truth (and equality, justice, etc.) in a feminized society are superficial, and women get to define reality in their own terms, they get to define the "other," the male, in superficial, primitivist terms. They also get to define "patriarchy" in terms of the presence of male genitalia in positions of power, even if most of the men who rise to power have to be a bit whipped to get there in the first place, or at least able to fake it.
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Do I sense a thesis in the making?
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Happy Endings and New Girl.



I was actually going to Ahem the titles, but it felt wussified. So again, in addition to the piles on your list, Happy Endings and New Girl.



But I admit, Grant on Man Up is hilarious. The show lives and dies with him.
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I don't get how Happy Endings 'wussifies' men. The battle of the sexes seems like a pretty level playing field on that show.
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Being wussified isn't limited to being dominated by the women around them. Wuss is a way of life, often entirely unrelated to outside sources.



I don't know their names, but the guy who was with Elisha Cuthbert crying in his bathrobe for what was either weeks or months. A week is too long. Suck it up. The same thing that's going on with the guy in New Girl. They need to stop crying about broken arms and get back on that horse.



But that was last season on this show, so maybe it doesn't technically count.



In just this recent episode alone:



Damon Wayans 2.0:



- didn't man up and tell his gf (wife?) that he couldn't take her when she was with her annoying sorority sister (until he was caught)

- promoted some kind of vader breathing contraption to 'relax muscles'

- kissed Brent frickin' Mussberger on the forehead and told him to never change.

- the honeysuckle candles...were his. C'mon!



The guys singing along to the ad about 'the meat that can't be beat.' Even without lyrical connotations, men don't do that.



The guy who was touched by the commercial because it 'really spoke from the heart.'



The guy who made english muffin pizzas with Elisha Cuthbert's character.



The guy who showed up to the brunette in green Renaissance tights. In tights. In any tights.



Picture an old western saloon, picture these things happening there, and picture what happens next. One episode.



The gay guy's relatively fine. He might be the manliest character on the show. He's even doughy, scruffy, and poorly dressed, treading the danger zone between otter and bear.



On an unrelated note, am I the only one who thought the giant Swedish masseuse looked like Pink?
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The guy on Happy Endings crying for a week because the woman he was with for years left him at the altar in front of everyone isn't really an example of being a wuss. That's a single incident.



We're talking about guys on these shows that are basically grown up children, and are always completely afraid of all women around them - women tell them what to do, they do it, for fear of the woman rejecting them later.

The men are always wrong about everything, the woman's always right. And as a result, the guy's almost literally sulk and whine about their powerless-ness.



The bigger picture of these guys having no back bones whatsoever is the troubling trend.
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Is the question what's the biggest problem with guys today, or what defines a wuss? Again, I say that the main definition isn't being dominated by women (though it's a problem), it's being a pansy. Having one foot in the wuss door before the women are even in the picture.



Not knowing how to change a tire, pink clothing, dangly earrings, non-dangly earrings, manscaping, mani-pedis, mancrushes...all that crap that shouldn't have the word 'man' before it. A guy can be assertive and make sure no woman takes away his scented candles, but he will win that battle as a wuss.



Damon Wayans 2.0 holds almost even with his gf, but he's still a wuss entirely outside of that relationship. The other guy may have only cried for a week, but he's still not over her. A real man doesn't care if "she's gonna be there," again, he sucks it up. I'd only listed one incident, but it's not like that's the only thing he's ever done. And if being wrong about everything is wuss criteria, then his two horrible commercials for his food truck last episode should cover that.



As far as being dominated by their women, the only show in the article that does that is Man Up, but none of us are defending that one. Being a spineless manbaby that can't do anything right while the woman saves the day is bad, but it doesn't end there, with simply lacking courage or competence.
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