Watching this year’s Emmy Awards I was reminded of how delicious, rich, tempting, honorable, odd and funny a man’s character can be. Mad Men. Men who travel in an Entourage. Men who cure in hospitals yet answer to a House. Men embracing fatherhood in a Modern Family. Men who gamble their lives on Boardwalk Empire. Men who are to die for, oh that Dexter. Men who coach their sports teams under the Friday Night Lights. Men who lead their choirs with Glee. Men who contemplate The Big Bang Theory. Men who are our bosses in The Office. Two and Half Men, adjusting to new relatives. Men who play their Game of Thrones. And men who became America’s Camelot, The Kennedys.
The actors who play these men give it their all, in the roles that we watch, DVR and discuss, sometimes obsessively, as though they are our own husbands, neighbors, brothers, doctors, uncles, supervisors, boyfriends, presidents and lovers. Some handsome, some tall. Some just tall in our eyes.
Some are guys. Some are pricks. Some are sweethearts. And some are a combination of all three.
We watch these men, on the small screen, welcoming them into our home as we live out their storylines. Their plotpoints. Their charter arcs.
We often forget that these men, these actors, also have real lives and that acting is a job. A glamorous job, but a still a job. And that at the end of the day, just like us, they go home and live out their real lives in whatever reality is best for them. Sometimes public, often painfully private.
And, truly, we don’t really know what is the true character of an actor. We simply know the character that the actor portrays.
We love these characters. We love these men. We even love the ones we despise.
Like Tony Soprano. We miss Tony. Sure, he was a sociopath mobster whose loyalty was only as strong as his temptations. But he also protected his kids. And he saw a therapist. And no matter how much crime Tony committed, his wife Carmela was always there for him, by his side, loving and accepting him exactly for who he was, knowing full well that he wasn’t a saint, but he was, by her own choosing, her man.
The men of television help us live out our own insecurities, questions, behaviors and fantasies. Saint and sinner. Comedian and con artist. Player and pushover. We are captivated by these men because they are flawed. Just like women are flawed. Because that is human nature and accepting the flaws within can help us overcome, forgive and accept the flaws of our significant others.
It’s not about life imitating art. It’s about life being art.
And just like we accept the broken yet beautiful, neurotic yet normal, greedy yet graceful men of screen, if we want to have courtship and companionship in our own lives, perhaps we can allow the same kind of flexibility for the men that we invite not just into our homes but, also, into our hearts?
And if we’re lucky, and find the right one, then perhaps one day he can enjoy our favorite Prime Time men with us.