The line between bromantic and romantic. Too thin.

The go to heterosexual enforcement tool has changed. Instead of being very homophobic, the modern man has begun to display homosexual characteristics prominently, yet mildly sarcastically. Both the episodes of Always Sunny and Workaholics put the bromance in a situation of obvious gayness, in the case of Workaholics, a very sexual gayness. The boner situation is very compelling, if the same sort of situation had happened in the 90s, the response would have been closer to “does this make us gay?” Today, it is just a “boner break,” and is used more for comedic effect than as an entire episode. Becker argues that “being gay-friendly … became de riguer for Americans invested in a hip, socially liberal identity,” this was especially apparent in the 1990s, when “not that there’s anything wrong with that” was happening. There wasn’t even gay seduction happening. In many shows today however, there are a lot of attempted gay man seductions. I would argue that this, in large part, has replaced the “mistaken sexual identity” episodes of the 90s, (it happens in the first episode of always sunny)

The bromance is more of an existence, and a relationship that is built throughout a series, but then highly focused on in a homosexual way in one episode (Mac and Dennis are never as old married couple like again in the series as far as I have seen.) The bromance as a real (read satirically real) thing, is the new episode highlight.

For the large part, I would argue that the homosexual/homoerotic bromance, especially as played out in a satirical light, is not a continuous theme through most shows. Bromance is a word that has been largely used to describe (in hind sight) the best friend relationships, regardless of homoerotic tendencies. Many of these guy pairings are periodicially embellished into full blown homosocial/homoerotic bromances. Most bromances, I think and this is from my eye mind you, not backed up a lot by theory, are not routinely or obviously homoerotic.

I do think it is compelling however that the gay man doesn’t fit into the bromance. Gay guys can be bros, no problem, I have several gay bros, we play video games together and are equally capable talking about how hot men and women are. But when a gay man is included in a media bromance, the difference between being bromantic and romantic becomes, apparently, too thin for comfort. If Dennis were gay, the episode would have had an entirely different plot, where Dennis were more predatory and trying to “turn” Mac (or at least that would be the anxiety.) Unfortunately being a bro in the media world means a sexuality that is hyper masculine and sexualized, and therefore incompatible with a homosexual viewpoint.

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2 thoughts on “The line between bromantic and romantic. Too thin.

  1. I really agree with how the boner situation in Workaholics would have played out in the 90’s. I think that it is a really great point to show how different bromance has become. The characters did not even miss a beat or become insecure when both got boners, they even made it more sexualized by saying that one was too “fleshy” and the other smelled like coconuts.

    In terms of the gay bros, Becker does not say they can’t exist, but for them to actually feel apart of the bromance they must be more masculinized like Max. He is not the stereotypical gay man, and if you didn’t know that he was gay, you may never find out because he has very little signifiers. This idea is a prime example of your last statement ” being a bro in the media world means a sexuality that is hyper masculine and sexualized, and therefore incompatible with a homosexual viewpoint.” I really do not think that Max would have the relationship he has with the rest of the characters if he was a stereotypically gay.

  2. You point out that homosexual or homoerotic elements are used sarcastically or satirically in most TV bromances today, which I think is completely true. There’s a definite difference though, between shows which seem to target homosexuality as the butt of the joke, and shows which make the characters’ discomfort with gayness the joke. I would say the former is shown in the Workaholics episode, while the Always Sunny episode does the latter (the show’s conflict is the realization of homosexual elements and discomfort with them, and the resolution is the acceptance of the bromance despite homoerotic undertones).

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