In a scene in ABC’s new show Big Shots, the four main characters are sitting in the sauna talking to each other about cheating, and how one of them is down in the dumps after finding out his wife cheated on him. Dylan McDermott’s character then states, “Men are the new women.”
I beg to differ.
The new fall season is bringing about too many shows that are solely about men. My question is: Who is going to watch them?
To completely generalize things, women like TV shows they can relate to (Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives) and men like shows that help them escape from the heavy hitting drama of real life, whether they be really funny shows (The Office) or sci fi/action shows (Heroes).
As a female, I love shows that I can relate to and feel a kinship toward. I enjoy the idea that I one day may parent like Lorelai Gilmore or be successful like Kitty Walker. Yet my boyfriend groans when I put these TV shows on, and when I get home from work, without fail, he is always watching Scrubs reruns (or playing video games).
Again, women like shows they can connect with, which pretty much means they won’t be extremely interested in the new shows that focus entirely on men. I can (sort of) relate to Susan’s problems on Desperate Housewives when it comes to trying to figure out who her Mr. Right is. I can’t relate to a show about bigwig male CEOs who pay for transvestite prostitutes.
And whether or not men can identify with that isn’t the issue. It’s whether they want to watch it. How often do men sit around with their guy friends talking about their latest issues with women, discussing their feelings and emotions? Rarely to never. So why would they want to watch a show about other men’s issues? Therefore, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the shows focused on males are going to have a hard time surviving.
ABC’s Carpoolers has better luck since at least it’s a comedy about men, which is something more men will gravitate toward. But at the same time, it has to be really funny, like The Simpsons, to get the guys to stick around week after week. Don’t even get me started on Cavemen.
In the 2006 Jack Myers Emotional Connections® study, seventy-five percent of women surveyed, ages 18-64, who watch Desperate Housewives, found the show to be relevant and reflect their viewing interests. About eighty-six percent said they watch the show frequently. Of the men surveyed who also watch the show, well it wasn’t even in the list of top fifty programs that reflected their viewing interests (It ranked seventy-six, as only about sixty-three percent of the Desperate Housewives male audience said the show is relevant to them. Plus, most of the about sixty-three percent probably watched it with women.) So, if men who watch Desperate Housewives aren’t even that into it, how many of them are going to watch a show focused solely on men? At least Desperate Housewives can appeal to men by constantly featuring attractive women. Big Shots focuses on men, men, and more men. Not too many women viewers will care about the male characters’ issues, and even more so, the men won’t care about them either.
ABC deserves credit for trying to target the male audience. Yet in order to pull in male viewers and keep them engaged from week to week, the show needs to be something really special. And it needs to be appealing to women as well, especially because so often it’s the women convincing the men to sit down and watch TV with them. I loved HBO’s Entourage long before my boyfriend ever watched it, and I convinced him to do so. Now he’s hooked. The characters are hilarious and relatable. And it’s not just for men. Females also love it. Scrubs, The Office: same thing.
So did ABC make a mistake in adding these male-focused shows to their fall lineup? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe we’ll discover that men and women do come from the same planet, instead of men from Mars and women from Venus. Although, I highly doubt that.
By Jacki Garfinkel
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