It’s A Date: Heterosexuality in a Bromance

 

In the episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Mac and Dennis’s break up and make up serves to carry out some of the main functions of a gay relationship while reinforcing the hegemonic masculinity that Becker describes. The two spend an immense amount of time together (one issues a 911 text and calls the police after the other is “missing” for an hour). Aside from Dee, it appears the other characters (including ones we do not see but just hear about) seem to think that their bromance is cute. The interaction between the two characters “relies on the cultural awareness of and general positive associations connected to gay love to reframe straight masculinity and male homosocial relationships” (9). For example, after Dee sparks a fight between the two she sets them up on a date to reunite; no one in the restaurant seems to pay any mind to the fact that it appears two men are on a date. Yet, it becomes clear the two are not on a date because Dee mentions that they are friends as the entire bar watches the spectacle of the food fight that ensues at the beginning of their reunification. Their heterosexuality is made a public service announcement. Their friendship is mentioned several times to quell any suspicion that the two could be on a date.

 

Heterosexual anxiety is played out during this scene. The pair sit at opposite ends of the table and the scene is filmed so they look far away and have a women separating them, as if to call attention to heterosexual coupling. Both men come to the bar because they were promised a date with a women with large breasts; upon realizing that no voluptuous women were present, the two discuss how they were both there to meet a woman, rather than interact with each other (the point of Dee’s plot to reunite them) . Mac and Dennis are united in this moment by their heterosexuality, as it is the ultimate force that lures them out and puts them in a position to reconcile. Setting up a woman as the imaginary sexual conquest in order to get Mac and Dennis to reunite “offers a reformulation  of hegemonic masculinity that naturalizes the exclusion of gay men, even as it relies on a generally positive regard for gayness” (10), as both men show up to the date ready to carry out gender roles. Dennis comes prepared to pay for his date, whom he assumes will be female and Mac assumes that his date (assumed to be female)  is rich enough and will like him enough to foot the bill. Ultimately, it is Dennis that saves the two, as his inclination to follow traditional gender roles and pay for his female date’s meal allows them to leave the mayhem at the restaurant behind. Absent the heteronormative gender expectations, Mac would have been stranded at the restaurant with no way to pay for his 6 rum and cokes.

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