US sitcoms create a harmful image of the average male

Since I have the good fortune to live in one of the cities that has spent one of the most extended periods of time under lockdown due to COVID-19 restrictions, I find myself with a lot of free time on my hands. In order to fill in that time, I turn to things that I enjoy, such as video games, music, going for long walks or taking drives in my car within the permitted 5 km radius, and watching shows on Netflix.

When it comes to my preferences, I’d rather keep it lighthearted and avoid anything too heavy, unless I’m really into the plot, like with the CW’s The 100, Arrow or Riverdale. I even went back and binge-watched all the episodes of Lost a little while ago.

But I prefer to stick to comedies and more specifically sitcoms. The ones that go on for nine-or-so seasons where you can just turn off your mind, get some lol’s here and there and before you know it, the whole day’s gone by (not a very productive way to spend a day, I know, but when you’re in lockdown, believe me, at some point it becomes necessary.)

However, as I have already gone through FRIENDS and How I Met Your Mother and I am now in the fifth season of The Big Bang Theory, it’s difficult not to notice a common pattern within these shows. A wave of subliminal messaging that attempts to make me feel guilty for being born the way I am or having the interests that I do. All aforementioned sitcoms do this, but it’s especially noticeable in The Big Bang Theory.

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More often than not, there is usually a male or a group of males that have a ‘bro’-like attitude, interests that aren’t considered ‘cool’ or behave in such a way that under normal circumstances would not be deemed acceptable. Which forces them to become social outcasts and have a quirky and awkward personality. Usually some or most of these male characters become a source of laughter for the audience as we watch their poor attempts to become more socially acceptable (mainly by members of the opposite gender) end in tragic failure.

Until all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a woman shows up in their lives to ‘put them on the right path’ and ‘set them straight’. These men do anything for that one woman in order to keep her around in their lives, giving up their interests, their way of life, their friends and anything that makes them who they are. At the same time, the women make next to no effort, pointing out that the guy is lucky to be with them and that it’s easy for them to find someone else if they want, but should the relationship end, the guy will ‘die alone’. They are the ones setting the tone for the course of the relationship, even if they themselves have little to no prior experiences. They demonstrate great pride for themselves, an emotion that male characters in sitcoms are dangerously lacking.

This sets a dangerous example for human relationships in which both parties should be equal. No, the man is not ‘lucky enough to find a woman to have sex with him’ and should not be the only one willing to make changes for the good of a relationship. People need to improve themselves and if someone has an issue with what their significant other does, they should feel comfortable mentioning it. But this needs to go both ways. If a woman threatens a man that she will no longer have sex with him if she doesn’t get her way then that doesn’t really seem very healthy, nor should it be broadcast as a public image for ideal relationships all over a nation’s television networks!

At the same time, the men in these shows seem to have a very low opinion of themselves and huge confident issues. But that’s not something to laugh about. Usually the main characters of these shows were victims of bullying throughout their high school years which leaves them at an almost catatonic state whenever they’re forced to talk to a member of the opposite sex. The women see those weaknesses and rather than helping them get through their issues, they use them to their own advantage.

I know sometimes it seems like we may take things a bit too seriously. Like, really, these are just TV shows and they’re nothing special, I mean they even tell you when you’re supposed to laugh for goodness sake’s (geez, I hate those audience tracks!) But it’s important to realize that an entire generation grew up watching these shows, loving these characters and even following the careers of the actors that brought them to life.

But for every Ross, for every Chandler, Joey, Sheldon, Barney, Leonard, Howard, Raj and Ted, there are four thousand times as many men out there who are not willing to give up their ‘nerdy’ ways just to get a woman to sleep with them. Nor are they ashamed of their way of life and nor should they be. Because it’s their own choice.

Media graduate, professional journalist and self-proclaimed Final Fantasy fanboy. Interests (and die-hard passions) include gaming and sports (mainly football).

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