December 21, 2010

The Bro Ideal

What constitutes a "bro"? Also: can I not put that in quotes from now on? It seems like a lot of work. Thanks! Continuing: Watching the works of Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night, The West Wing, Studio 60), I'm struck by the pairs of dudes that exhibit bro-like behavior. I'm not sure how true-to-life this behavior is, but it's fun to watch. I've noticed some commonality in most of Sorkin's bros. Specifically:

(1) Work relationship. These guys work together or have some kind of working relationship. Leo is Bartlett's Chief of Staff. Matt is the writer, Danny is the producer of the same show. Dan and Casey are co-anchors. This is likely out of convenience since the shows focus on these guys' jobs but it's also an excuse for these guys to be around each other all the time. Indeed, guys being around each other all the time without the working relationship seems pathetic (sorry, Isaac).

(2) They've known each other for years. A bro-lationship doesn't happen overnight! A long backstory gives weight to the relationship, and provides fodder for conversation (and sometimes conflict). The backstory also makes the type of dialogue Sorkin writes for them more believable. Things are frequently spoken without words between these characters, and a years-long relationship makes that easier to buy as well.

(3) They are fiercely loyal to each other. I guess that's a fundamental part of being a bro, and you see it in Sorkin's characters as well. I don't recall anyone ever starting a fight or anything, but it's in the subtext that they're willing to.

I suppose good writers aren't limited to drawing on their own experience, but I can't help but wonder if Sorkin has a bro-lationship (bromance seems played out) similar to what he depicts onscreen. Or perhaps this is a lofty but unattainable ideal for him. He does seem to work with Thomas Schlamme a lot, but maybe that's just a coincidence.

One thing that has always irked me about reality shows is the dialog between (supposed) bros. There are certain things that dudes typically don't talk about, or at the very least there are ways that most dudes don't talk. Reality shows ring false every time. Am I just being too suspicious of these "unscripted" shows? Or have I bought into Sorkin's mythical bro ideal?

1 comment:

  1. I take no offense. Sort of. I'd rather have a partner in crime than just some dude there to hang. I want that co-executive producer who can share their creative ideas and research movies/tv shows with me. Bros isn't another word for best friends, it's Brothers. Someone who has their back no matter & calls them on their bull.

    I don't think its a mythical ideal as you believe; & I don't believe you have to be working partners to achieve that level of brotherhood. JD & Turk became Bros in college. Barney & Ted & Marshell didn't even grow up together or worked together. Chandler & Joey became Bros by being roommates 1st and came from completely different backgrounds, and just to nerd this up some more, Han Solo and Chewbacca. Han an imperial lieutenant & Chewbacca a slave.

    Not all perfect examples of Bros, but still enough to provide a health debate.