“So which one is the girl?”

Although there were elements of Mac and Dennis’s bromance that did not create “rigid gender norms,” the implied wife and husband role, played by Mac and Dennis respectively, does showcase Becker’s argument. While there are no explicit references to Mac or Dennis’s sexuality, the relationship of their bromance still creates “a reformulation of hegemonic masculinity that naturalizes the exclusion of gay men” (10). By situating the closeness between Mac and Dennis through a heterosexual lens of wife and husband, the inclusion of homosexual acceptance may not be as prevalent. As Becker further notes, “bromance discourse is actually about acknowledging and validating straight male bonding” (13). While a bromance is accepted, the subtle characterization of wife and husband reaffirms the still present heterosexuality of both individuals.

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The dialogue and actions took by Mac’s character showed an understated, but continual representation of the “wife” in this bromance. Expressing concern over not being able to stay in contact with Dennis at all times (so much to the point of calling the police), showing jealously when Dennis talks about the “video store clerk guy” and in his need for cleanliness (especially in scenes where Mac lives with Charlie and Frank – toe knife, apple skin, plastic on couch); Dennis portrays the stereotypical characteristics of the wife. While I acknowledge the problem in assessing Dennis’s characteristics through sexist standards of stereotypical wife behavior, the distinction between Dennis and Mac is important.

Mac on the other hand embodies more of the husband-like qualities in his bromance with Dennis. With his bewilderment to not understanding why watching “Transporter 2” would be unthinkable or not fully picking up on Dennis’s jealousy of the new man at the video store, Mac embodies the more husband-like character of the bromance relationship. And perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but at the end of the restaurant scene when Mac picks up the check, this act (although certainly in stereotypical masculine behavior) again recognizes his status as the male/husband providing for his wife/Dennis.

The homosexual component within the bromance discourse as Becker aptly argues “can be complicated and contradictory” (9). While at the same time Mac and Dennis are celebrated and ultimately desired by the rest of the characters for their close relationship (an acceptance of homosexual characteristics), the construction whether deliberate or not of a wife and husband role contradict the idea of two partners regardless of sex. I wrote about this particularly because I remember when dating my first boyfriend in high school overhearing a girl saying to her friend: “So, which one is the girl you think? (although I believe she used bitch rather than girl)”. Obviously that was somewhat rough and disheartening to hear, but to get to my point: accepting the reality and “okayness” of homosexual relationship is great, but seeing that relationship within in stereotypically heterosexual terms of wife/submissive and husband/dominant remains troublesome for me.

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2 thoughts on ““So which one is the girl?”

  1. Excellent post, Nathan. This inscribing of dominant/passive, masculine/feminine onto all relationships, fictional and otherwise, is so pervasive — why do you think it’s so important for texts and those outside of a relationship to do so? What anxieties does it dispel?

  2. You raise an interesting point. I don’t read Dennis and Mac as explicitly coded as occupying husband and wife roles (though maybe they are, I haven’t watched the rest of the show). The instances of potentially gendered actions read to me as demonstrations of their co-dependence and are subtle enough that most viewers probably wouldn’t pick up on them, but those actions could subconsciously translate to the viewers as the characters occupying set gender roles, especially in the context of referring to them as an old married couple, and the pattern of placing bromances and actual gay relationships within these gender roles is definitely a problem in TV shows (as well as real life).

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