I'm curious to see how Man Up! will do in the Tuesday at 8:30 PM on ABC time slot. The premiere of Last Man Standing got great numbers, but for how many minutes can people stand to watch male-centric, gender identity-obsessed characters? Will viewers who hated Home Improvement: Daughter Edition even give this show a chance? Will audiences who saw how badly How to Be a Gentleman did avoid all shows with "man" in the title? Could people deem it to too much of a fool's Modern Family? Time will tell -- but if the ratings ultimately nosedive, I don't think it will be because the pilot was truly terrible on its own.
Coming from the girl who couldn't stand How to Be a Gentleman, I thought the Man Up! debut was funny -- as in, I laughed way more than once in the episode. The chemistry between Will, Kenny and Craig (Mather Zickel, Dan Fogler and Christopher Moynihan, respectively) was well realized, the one-liners were tight (I'll admit that "It's always stool, isn't it?" got me), there were moments of fine comedic timing ("Sha la la la la" in the car immediately after the guys left the church was a nice touch) and the final use of the "fluffin'" gag caught me off-guard. I credit Henry Simmons for his delivery of Grant, the outstandingly handsome baker, lover, basketball player and fighter, for a good amount of laughs in the episode, and the writers for not making it painfully obvious that his character proves that being a man has nothing to do with the nonsense Will and his friends think it does.
On that note, I feel slightly disarmed by my enjoyment of Man Up!, because at its core, I really dislike the show. I'm frustrated by its creation of the non-dilemma of how to define manhood in 2011, as if modern women and geeky children have ruined the male experience for all guys who have never fought in the military. As a general rule, I can't stand it when suggesting a man has female genitalia serves a big punch line -- Fogler's character did it twice and Zickel referred to his crew as part of an "over-evolved generation of pantywaists." I cringed every time Will uttered a line about "being a man," because I knew it would be followed by an emasculating dig within seconds. The stereotypical set-up of "the married one, the divorced one and the eternally single one" irked me, and I would like to meet one 13-year-old who would jump for joy upon getting a shaving kit from a complete stranger on his birthday. But when Will explained how he got permission from his wife to play video games at night -- a cut to him asking his wife Theresa (Teri Polo) if she wanted to have sex -- I chuckled because, well, it was funny.
I'm not sure where these characters are going to go from here, but right now I imagine Man Up!'s formula will grow tiresome, especially if you detest Fogler's comedic styling, or man-children in general. But honestly, I hope that I'm proven wrong next week. Though I wouldn't call this show must-see TV, I could see recording it and watching it Wednesday mornings before checking in with Fox's New Girl (when it comes back on), just to give myself some kind of balance between the genders at their wackiest... that is, if it survives long enough.
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