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Television: Making Monkeys of Men

2 minute read
James Poniewozik

At some point during CBS’s chatty dramedy Love Monkey, a female focus group (i.e., my wife) asked me, “Do men really talk like that?” I don’t recall if the question came when some strangers in a bar discussed why men are never content in relationships, or when one character called a Tori Amos CD “vagina music.”

Men may not talk like that, but who would watch an hour of guys talking about real estate or silently playing Xbox? Like Sex and the City, Love (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. E.T.) uses fantasy to try to tell truths about mating, here focusing on Tom Farrell (Tom Cavanagh), a Manhattan record-company scout. (In the 2004 novel on which the show is based, he was a newswriter. Journalists sell books, not TV series.) He’s funny, idealistic, nice to his sister, straight, available and looking for love. His portrayal may make more single women move to New York City than Friends did.

As with many other instances of men sharing their feelings, Love is better in theory than in practice. Cavanagh (Ed) has casual, self-deprecating charm to spare, but his support system of guy pals (including Beverly Hills, 90210’s Jason Priestley) is a stale trio of upscale beer-ad types. And the show’s music-biz milieu is phony and dated: Tom, a supposedly individualistic tastemaker, is about as edgy as a pair of pleated khakis. (He loves Bob Dylan and hates Hanson! Risky!) CBS may want to avoid alienating us unhip married guys with aging CD collections, but it sacrifices the authenticity that allows HBO’S Entourage to overcome its Y-chromosome clichés.

It’s too bad, since Love, like CBS’s superior How I Met Your Mother, is part of a welcome trend: shows about men who seek, not run from, commitment. Let’s hope some future series can better show us what real men can be like when it comes to love: a bunch of girls.

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