Men and TVLatest News and Opinion
Posted Saturday 10/13/18 at 3:11AM EDT
TV has built a world where white males are the protagonists of the story, from CBS crime procedurals to antihero dramas
The fall of Les Moonves and the recent premiere of Lifetime's You -- which attempts to subvert the white male viewpoint -- have helped to hammer home the point that a lot of television has been told from the white male point of view. "Straight white men in America are taught that they are the protagonist of the story from birth. Their number includes me — I’ve always intuitively understood myself as the protagonist too," says Todd VanDerWerff. "And this mindset has only become more ingrained in the past 20 years. Under Moonves, CBS became America’s most powerful network, but also went from broadcasting shows like Murphy Brown and Designing Women to mostly being a place where women were corpses, whose murders were solved largely by steely, determined men, with occasional help from quippy female sidekicks." VanDerWerff adds that "over the past 20 years, no network has had a worse record of telling stories centered on characters who aren’t straight white men than CBS, a trend the network has only finally broken this fall. What does it say about a culture when by far its most popular television network is dominated by shows where women serve primarily as support systems, quirky comic relief, and victims?" Antihero shows like Mad Men, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and The Shield have also helped fuel the narrative that white males can take whatever they want. "The best antihero dramas of the early 2000s, like the best great films of the ’70s, were cautionary tales, deeply moral stories about how, in some ways, the men at the center of them stood in for an America — or at least a white male America — that couldn’t stop gobbling up everything it saw," says VanDerWerff. "The shows suggested, always, that even if their protagonists didn’t get their comeuppance onscreen, it was coming, unless they could change their ways. Only a handful of those protagonists, most notably Mad Men’s Don Draper, eventually came close to doing so. But even now, these shows leave open the question of just how we’re supposed to grapple with the idea that many viewers will always see them as instruction manuals, or as validation of dangerous ideals. What are the takeaways for an audience that doesn’t want to dig into the moral and ethical nuance of The Sopranos and just wants to see Tony whack more enemies, or that believes Skyler White is the true villain of Breaking Bad?"
Posted Wednesday 9/26/18 at 10:56PM EDT
Kudos to This Is Us for its exploration of men's mental health
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
"While many critically-lauded programs depict men engaging in bad behavior due to psychological or medical ordeals, This Is Us is one of the few series that intentionally centers and sensitively examines men’s mental health struggles — and in the past two seasons going into the third, each of its four lead male characters experiences problems ranging from addiction and trauma to anxiety and depression," says Robyn Bahr. "NBC’s time-spanning, multi-generational drama portrays the wholesome but troubled Pearson family, a middle-class clan whose members face everything from the complexities of transracial adoption to obstacles associated with obesity. Some critics sneer that This is Us is a timey-wimey sentimental cry-fest (and rightfully censure creator Dan Fogelman’s one-note female characters), but exposing the raw nerve of men’s mental health is vital for audiences to witness; after all, sunlight is the greatest disinfectant."
Posted Saturday 7/28/18 at 12:28AM EDT
How Boardwalk Empire became a critique of toxic masculinity
Source: The Mary Sue
"As it stands, Boardwalk Empire was an academic criticism that—despite narrative missteps, confusing racial politics, and problematic elements—emerges as a powerful return to the social commentary roots of the gangster film, and as a telling political manifesto on the dangers of the patriarchy," says Kate Gardner. "Nucky is not a male power fantasy but a nightmare, and his downfall is something we should cheer for."
Posted Friday 4/20/18 at 10:50PM EDT
Jane the Virgin creator explains the shocking season finale
Source: Entertainment Weekly
"As we enter our final chapter, the beginning of our ending," says Jennie Snyder Urman, "I thought about what I wanted to see and what I wanted to feel, and there’s been a lot of plot stuff that I’ve been very sure about. It really had a lot to do with this timing, how much story we wanted to tell and where we wanted Jane to ultimately end up. I made this decision over hiatus that we would go for this and then pitched it to the writers."
Posted Tuesday 4/17/18 at 7:01PM EDT
Billions has evolved to offer TV's best critique of toxic masculinity
Season 3 has turned its attention on gender thanks to the emergence of nonbinary actor Asia Kate Dillon from a bit player to a central part of the series. Her role as Taylor has "crystallized the themes of gender and power that the show had previously been circling less certainly," says Alison Wilmore, adding: "Billions is not exclusively a show about men, but it is shaped by masculinity to the extent that most of its women — formidable, brainy, tough — are seen through the ways they've had to learn how to navigate the expectations and biases of men. They shield themselves when needed, soften their edges when it's advantageous, and contend with being seen as sexual objects."
Posted Friday 3/30/18 at 9:30PM EDT
TV is in the midst of a crying men trend
Source: The Washington Post
From Jimmy Kimmel to This Is Us to Queer Eye, manly tears have evolved from a punchline to something that is okay for men to display. "At a time when pop culture is grappling with sexism behind the scenes and how women are represented on screen, depictions of masculinity are slowly being rewritten, too," says Elahe Izadi. "It’s been surprisingly refreshing for this woman to see men cry and be vulnerable in these ways. But for men watching, these scenes give them permission to do the same — without explaining it away as just something in their eye."