Monday, December 07, 2009

Isn’t It Bromantic?

I read a reference to an upcoming television series, as a "bromance." I was sure I knew what that meant, but I looked it up in Wikipedia anyway:

A bromance or "man-crush" is a close but non-sexual relationship between two (or more) men, a form of homosocial intimacy. Coined in the 1990s, the term has historically referred to a relationship between heterosexuals.

I wonder if maybe we don't spend too much time reading something sexual into everything that anybody feels for anybody else. Throughout history, men would develop bonds that were often closer than with their own wives. Warriors in battle would have a fellow-in-arms who was known as a "paraclete" (a term also used in Christianity to refer to the Holy Spirit, in his role as advocate, comforter, and/or supporter). This was the guy who would watch your back while you watched his. Friendships in Shakespears's plays often gave way to soliloquies that, to modern ears, would border on the romantic. We see remnants of this social bonding today; in the "blood brother" oaths we took as kids, with policemen and their partners "on the job," the "buddy system" used by the Boy Scouts at camp swimming pools and on long-term hikes.

Notice how sex has nothing to do with any of the above.

We can also catch a glimpse of it tonight on Turner Network Television (TNT), at 10pm eastern, 9pm central, with the premiere of "Men of a Certain Age." The plot summary is given away in the network's description of the first episode: Joe, Owen and Terry have been friends for years. Joe, a party-store owner who once had dreams of being a professional golfer, struggles with his recent separation from his wife. Owen, a put-upon auto salesman, tries to make ends meet while working for his demanding father. And Terry, a handsome part-time actor, hopes to recapture the glory of his past. Between daily lunches at a local diner and hikes in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, the three do their best to support each other through the challenges mid-life throws at them.

So, what are the critics saying?

Derrick Lang of the Associated Press describes the character played by comedian Ray Romano of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame: "The wry everyman is trading his quippy persona from 'Raymond' for a sad-eyed party store owner named Joe, who is suffering through divorce and a gambling addiction." Romano himself says about his real-life chums from his old neighborhood in Queens: "We are as close as these guys, but I don't think we open up as much." In a comments section for the show's web page, deborah195 wrote: "Love Bakula but dang, the commercials make it look like a chick flick but with dudes ..." There is some occasional coarse language, if rather mild by locker-room standards, and also a few sexual references and other mature situations, so obviously this could be suited for adults, and for adolescents who watch it with their parents, if only to understand better that Mom and Dad, too, have their darker moments.

We'll be watching it tonight at Chez Alexandre. After all, "I'm okay with that, because I'm medicated."

Stay tuned.


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Anonymous said...

I believe St Augustine, before his conversion, was extremely close to a young man who was his best friend.Augustine wrote about him in "Confessions"
I think this friend died very young and it was very hard for Augustine to get over.
His name escapes me...