October 19th, 2011
12:47 PM ET
On Tuesday night, ABC continued its curious examination of gender norms with another sitcom bemoaning the apparent dearth of "real" men.
Up until this fall TV season, I had no idea that I was living amongst a bunch of "pantywaists," but someone out there in comedy development seems to find that to be true.
If Tim Allen's ranting about being the last rough-and-tumble "Man Standing," he's doing it for the three male stars of "Man Up!": Husband and father Will (Mather Zickel), his brother-in-law Kenny (Dan Fogler) and their friend Craig (Christopher Moynihan), all of whom represent the breed of video-game playing modern guys that Allen's character can't stand.
Take, for example, the central problem Will faces in the premiere.
His son is turning 13, and he can't figure out what to get him. (He was unimpressed with his friends' suggestions to get the kid a few hookers, or perhaps a journal.) The issue, as Will explains it to his wife Theresa (Teri Polo), is that he wants "something that says, 'I know you’re a man too. Because I too, am a man.'" But after he asks for non-dairy hazelnut creamer, Theresa calls his manhood into question.
Theresa: "Your grandfather fought in World War II, your father fought in Vietnam, and you play video games and use pomegranate body wash."
Will, as if Theresa's "You're not a man" face wasn't enough of a hint: "Are you saying that I'm not a man?"
Theresa: "You're man-ish."
And there's the set-up for the rest of the show. These "man-ish" men waffle between wanting to be more like the war-fighting men who came before them (a standard that I didn't understand, since plenty, plenty of men and women are doing that today) and succumbing to their "softer" makeups.
(As an aside, Allen's "Last Man Standing" character also had a gripe about citrus smelling bath products. If your sense of self truly rests on the scent of your soaps, I'm afraid we've got bigger problems.)
But let's put aside the off-putting focus on the definitions of man-dom - is "Man Up!" funny? Marginally, yes.
Premieres don't always present the best jokes, and it can sometimes take another episode or three before a comedy hits its stride. The first 20 minutes passed with silence on my end, but one of the final scenes, involving a brawl between our man-ish crew and a bunch of angry groomsmen, did cause some chuckles.
What about for you? Does "Man Up!" have potential to stick around, or are you predicting it'll go the way of "How To Be a Gentleman"? And what did you make of Grant (Henry Simmons), the muscular basketball aficionado who was clearly supposed to remind us of the Old Spice guy?
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