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.