Bromance makes me wish that I was smarter. I know that Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy say that graduate students are the worst, but if I was better at critical thinking and dialectical argumentation, I would totally go back to school just in order to write a PhD thesis about this show and its incredibly complicated treatment of modern American masculinity.
I am not joking.
The premise, of course, is that Brody Jenner is looking for a new best friend. So nine dudes from around the country have flown to LA to live in a rundown frat-party-styled house to compete for his platonic affection. In the first episode, the one gay contestant left because he didn’t really want to meet Brody so much as be on an episode of The Hills, and then a particular conversation in the kitchen about how much pussy everyone enjoyed getting seemed to be too much for him, which is sort of fair enough, except that I find it hard to believe that a 20-something homosexual on an MTV reality show is actually that put off by what seems to be a typically inane hyper-sexualized conversation among a group of nine dudes trying desperately to ward off any questions of their own orientation/preference considering they’re on national television basically trying to win the love of a man. But what was obviously the most ingenious and mind-blowing moment of the episode and probably the entire season was the elimination ceremony which took place in a hot tub, with Brody Jenner sitting on one side of the hot tub facing a line of shirtless men sitting knee-to-knee on the other side of the hot tub. Everyone who was safe from elimination was asked to leave the hot tub, upping the tension by putting Brody in a hot tub facing just three shirtless men, debating who he liked the best, and when the elimination occurred he then asked all the other boys to get BACK IN the hot tub to quote-unquote “party,” for a moment that was basically 100 times more homoerotic and complicated and confusing than anything that’s been on Bravo ever.
Please watch this highlight reel from last night’s episode to get a sense of what I’m talking about:
Do you see what I’m talking about? The show is basically the gayest thing ever, made more gay by everyone’s desperate attempts to provide chest-bumping proof of their heterosexuality, which chest-bumping proof of their heterosexuality is constantly called into question when they’re actually forced to answer the question “why are you here in the first place?” The obvious response that no one is willing to give, because to do so would be to sacrifice any hope at “winning,” is that these guys just want to be on TV. But that’s not actually sufficient as an answer because there is an over-abundance of reality TV these days. Why this show? What’s perhaps strangest is that despite the underlying current (even from Mr. Jenner himself) of just being happy to have a way to be on TV, everyone is constantly forced into thinking about what it means to have friends, and what friendship means, and the fact that those are actually very emotional issues since friendship has almost usurped the family in modern relationships, what with everyone having the mobility and independence to move hundreds of miles away from where they were born. But very emotional issues are anti-masculine, and you can start to see how the complications pile up.
Even more interesting is how “on-board” Brody seems to be with the whole thing. Obviously his straight-to-camera stuff is written for him, and he gladly delivers all these lines full of double entendres and winking homo-erotic suggestions. Which sort of goes to a very new tendency in modern masculinity in which it’s OK and even GOOD to have a certain playfulness about your sexuality, but it’s an incredibly fine line, and one that you have to constantly be looking at while you walk it in case you accidentally step over. Everyone on this show is just dancing all over this line all the time, flop sweat all over their exhausted gay faces.
Bromance blows (wink) my mind.
I am not joking.