To use something different, I found the short montage of Anders and Blake trying to maintain a bromance without Adam a particularly good example of Becker’s argument. After a fight with Adam over his hyper-masculine display and disrespect for the bromance, Anders (in a speedo) and Blake retreat from the house as “you infected me with your boner!” echoes after them. Clearly upset, Blake adamantly asserts that even without Adam,” NOTHING WILL CHANGE” about the bromance and that they will be “JUST FINE without him” “the best roomates ever”. The guys attempt to maintain their “cool” stance as to not come off “too earnest” in their heartfelt feelings of rejection and disappointment (17). In a short montage, the guys do what they normally would with each other: drink beer, play beer pong, use the word “dude” every sentence and hot tub. The first two activities establish the environment the bromance flourishes in: a highly masculine and heteronormative one– full of beer and competition. But the guys realize through the various “bro” activities, they cannot go on without a third companion. This shift towards a more serious view of their broken bromance validates the guys’ relationship is not a sham while maintains the exclusivity of hegemonic masculinity through their type of hangout.
After hitting a beer pong shot, Blake gestures to his groin and taunts, “suck it” to his default male competitor who could not be less interested. The joke taken literally seems extremely queer, but instead is an “ironic dismissal” because it’s used in a competitive context and is a typical masculine gesture glorifying their phallus. The activities and jokes “reinscribe rigid gender norms” that refrain from any gay bashing, yet maintain the exclusive privileges of hegemonic masculinity.
The critical element of the montage is the final scene when the guys are sitting right next to each other in the hot tub with a black cheetah sculpture behind them on the ledge. The music stops, highlighting the queer context of the scene and the curly haired guys states, “Soooo just two dudes in a Jacuzzi, this is NOT working”, his friend responds “no it’s not…we gotta get a new roommate”. The hot tub interaction acknowledges the homosexual implications of two men in a hot tub together crosses the boundary of hegemonic masculinity (heterosexuality specifically) and the guys immediately quell the threat by insinuating it’s “too gay”, thus a third male should be added to affirm the heteronormativity of a bromance. The idea that a third male in the tub (or in the trio) actually confirms their heterosexuality is an “ironic dismissal” of the gay context and a defensive reestablishment of heterosexuality. The montage highlights conflicting desires: the desire to have homosocial male bonding, yet only in a trio when the homosocial intimacy is not anxiety producing as it can be in a duo. This scene shows the extremely narrow gamut of acceptable heteronormative masculinity in the show, going as far to exclude the “coupling” of straight guys that could verge on insinuating a homosexual relationship. The third male reaffirms heterosexuality and masculinity through bro behavior while fulfilling a desire for male bonding and homosocial intimacy.
This scene functions similarly to what Becker points to in the Seinfeld episode where a panicked Jerry must defend his heterosexuality as not to be perceived gay with the disclaimer “not that there’s anything wrong with that” (4). These guys are not explicit about homophobic concerns, but the connotations of their statements allude to it while mainly expressing the “general anxiety about overly intense homosocial intimacy” that occurs between two straight men alone in a hot tub (13). The guys’ discomfort in the hot tub reflects that of the contestants on Bromance who awkwardly sit side-by-side while pleading to keep their spot on the show. While the scene clearly distinguishes the exclusive boundaries of hegemonic masculinity, the episode ends with reconciliation between the three guys that validates the genuine affection and deep friendship that can exist between straight men.