What if Modern Family wasn't as funny, and was more about three shlubs stuck in this season's pointless trend of fighting for their own masculinity? Man Up!, that's what! The newest addition to ABC's comedy lineup debuted last night as part of the network's testosterone restoration project (it's paired with Tim Allen's Last Man Standing), and it's not horrible, but it certainly isn't good.
The Modern Family comparisons are inevitable, especially since lead couple Will and Brenda (pictured above) are basically Silly Putty transfers of Phil and Claire Dunphy... except they're much more mild, and in comedy that's not a plus. Will's big conundrum last night was that he was trying to figure out what to buy his 13-year-old son for his birthday, a welcoming gift to manhood. But Brenda beat him to the punch by getting him a cool video game, and then someone else got him a shaving kit, because that's exactly what 13-year-olds want, I guess.
The other two main men on the show are Kenny, who was married to Brenda's sister Theresa, and Craig, whose love of his life is marrying another man. Like Will, they're trying to put hair on their chests, and most of the situations in the situational comedy's debut involved the three dudes feeling threatened by stereotypical MANLY MEN—who apparently all have big muscles and close-cropped hair and wear tight T-shirts. This show is confusing, man! I think I'm supposed to identify with the three main guys, but how can I support someone who crashes a wedding ceremony with an acoustic rendition of "Brown Eyed Girl," the wussiest song of all time? Or a guy who can't shop for a 13-year-old? Wasn't he a 13-year-old at one point? Or someone who screams a lot? My biggest issue with Man Up! is that these three shlubs are shlubs for a reason, and they deserve the adult equivalent of being stuffed in lockers (might I suggest "hogtied and thrown in an alligator-filled lake"?).
As for the women, they're relegated to making snide comments about their husbands being fruity and their boyfriends being meat. The guys aren't any good, but the ladies may be worse.
Still, we're only one episode in, so let's see what good we can pull out of the pilot. For all his screaming, Dan Fogler's Kenny has the potential to be funny, and Theresa's new boy toy Grant, a buff centerfold-type with a sensitive side, is the show's only memorable character. Beyond that, I heard a lot of crickets.
The idea of a gender gap that’s pervading television right now has gotten completely out of control. And you can do your part to stop it by completely ignoring Man Up!.
What did you think of the premiere?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom