acceptable queerness in Workaholics

Workaholics, which centers around the bromance of the three roomates Adam, Blake, and Anders, continually responds to queer moments with a reassurance of masculinity. The three friends, to begin with, are certainly not the figureheads of masculinity. Their goofy interactions and childish nature presents a queerness in itself. However, the reinforced message of masculinity through references to women and their lackluster lifestyle of drinking and smoking gives them a “bro” feel and allows their relationship to be a bromance.

One thing that stands out in particular is the queer attire that both Adam and Anders wear throughout the episode. In the first scene, the trio are dressed as wizards. Adam is wearing a tuxedo vest with nothing underneath and a cape. The queer dress is coupled with the nerdy obsession with the wizard world. Anders argues that he cannot be seen at such a function because it would hurt his status as a rapper. Adam reminds him of all of the nerdy girls in high school with huge boobs and Anders immediately responds, “and I’m back”. Both queerness and nerdyness are at once accepted because the focus turns back to the masculine and the potential nerd boobs that they will encounter.

The next scene that presents queerness through their attire is when Adam tells Anders to get out of the pool to fight him when Anders tries to seduce his girlfriend. The two get ready to square off when Blake stops the fight pointing out the Anders is “fully torqued” with a speedo on and cannot fight. There is an “unwritten rule”, he says, “that worriors cannot collide while erect”. This unwritten rule relates to Becker’s “unwritten rule” that the “bromance discourse functions by playfully translating homosocial bonding into the culural codes of homosexual bonding” but the situation must be reinforced by a “but we’re not gay” or a “we’re not that gay” response. Unknown-2The scene furthers the playful homosexual bonding after the two square off again after a short recess and both of them appear with erections. “Put on a shirt, you’re so fleshy” Adam demands. “This guy smells great, its like a coconut oil, what is that?” Anders replies. The direct queerness of this scene is coupled with intervals of masculinity where the two are talking shit and expressing masculinity.

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The last example of queer attire is Adam sporting a similar speedo in his strength competition. When he begins his individual performance and the crowd mocks him, Blake (dressed as a wizard) shows his bro love and stands up for him in front of the gathering. Blake and Anders resolve to join him on stage and revive their friend. The result of this bromance, however, is a rap that reinforces their masculinity, however comedic it may be. Although Adam is in a speedo with tube socks and Blake and Anders adorn their wizard outfits, they are still rapping things like, “when I bang your bitch, I make it rain like hell!”.

Even though Workaholics is a comedy where straight men can usually get away with expressing queer relationships, masculinity is still reinforced to remind the viewer that they are not, in fact, gay. However, in Becker’s words, the queerness of the episode does represent the “cultural awareness of and general positive associations connected to gay love to reframe straight masculinity and male homosocial relations”. Queerness is therefore okay, as long as it is playful and the backed by reminders of masculinity. Unknown

 

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2 thoughts on “acceptable queerness in Workaholics

  1. Great post, Jackson — and great images as well. To what extent do you think that Workaholics is satirizing “straight” mainstream masculinity? In other words, is this all a joke on mainstream masculinity…or does it simply reinforce it?

  2. I think that your comment exposes some really important moments in the episode we watched that portray queerness, followed up with the deployment of hegemonic masculinity. Becker states that “intimate relationships with other men are highly desirable, promising access to patriarchal privileges. At the same time, such intimacy can draw men’s heterosexuality into question, threatening their access to those privileges” (3). Your post made me think of two other examples in this episode that illustrate the characters’ constant need to assert their heterosexuality. First, during the scene with the wizard rap the men dance in front of a massive wall tapestry that features a curvy scantily clad blonde pinup girl riding on a very phallic missile. Each time the men do something potentially emasculating or embarrassing, a portion of this tapestry creeps back into the shot as if to remind the viewer that the men are heterosexual. As you mentioned, the men are engaging in all of this performance to hopefully attract large breasted mates at the Renaissance Faire. Second, during the scenes where the men fight near the pool these men go out of their way not to be near each other if they have an erection, the fight immediately stops and one of the men pays careful attention to make sure that neither of the other two men fight when they are aroused. This interaction fulfills the portion of bromance interactions that “break up homoerotic tension… that had been building” (16); because, while they are aroused and make jokes about it, they cannot physically touch each other or they would cross the threshold of homosocial actions into homoerotic ones. Each time they attempt and then fail to fight, they disperse and place a significant amount of physical distance between themselves, as if to remind the viewers that they are distancing themselves from potentially homoerotic situations.

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