'Gentleman' mans up by dumbing down
If youre writing a thesis paper on mens roles in American culture, dont miss How to Be a Gentleman. The new CBS sitcom revolves around two prominent male types, the prissy gentleman obsessed with manners and the boorish Neanderthal dudes dude (played by Kevin Dillon, who was Johnny Drama on Entourage).
However, youll want to include the show in your papers historical overview, because How to Be a Gentleman is remarkably dated. Premiering tonight at 8:30 on Channel 4, it depicts masculinity in the way The Odd Couple did in the 1960s and 70s, with the persnickety Felix and the slobby Oscar locking horns. And it will be joined by two other stubbornly simplistic sitcom takes on men in the next few weeks - Tim Allens Last Man Standing and the bromantic Man Up! Has no one told the writers of these shows that being a dumbo who talks down to women is no longer every mans greatest wish?
If youre not watching How to Be a Gentleman for a masters paper, you might want to think twice about watching it at all. While the lead-in The Big Bang Theory at 8 celebrates uniqueness, this show is all about fitting the mold. At the end of tonights pilot, the Oscar punches the Felix on the arm. Why? You were being you, the Oscar says to the Felix; Well fix that.
Heres the premise: David Hornsby from Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia is Andrew, an etiquette columnist whose magazine is now courting a younger male audience. They want to expand the readership by targeting people who dont read, says his editor, played by Dave Foley from Kids in the Hall. So Andrew reconnects with his high school classmate, Dillons Bert, a butch gym trainer who is going to school him on the ways of being more masculine. You know everything about being a gentleman, and nothing about being a man, Bert tells Andrew in a burst of supposed wisdom. So they hang out together and get into predictable fixes.
Theres a cluster of talent on the show, with Foley and Rhys Darby, who was unforgettable as Murray the agent on Flight of the Conchords. Whenever Darby is on screen, the show picks up. And Mary Lynn Rajskub, who was Chloe - a.k.a. Dammit Chloe - on 24, has moments as Andrews callous sister. But theyre all enslaved by a script that goes exactly where you expect it to go, and unimaginatively so. Also, Dillon is exhausting, playing another version of Drama. Only now hes a weight trainer who is a major dumbbell.