The Secret Script at USA Networks (aka the enmeshed male)By
I know you have watched something on USA Networks. After all, it’s a hit machine. It has give us Burn Notice, Royal Pains, White Collar and In Plain Sight.
Bonnie Hammer (pictured) is the woman in charge. Ms. Hammer has a formula and I accepted this as the secret of her success.
But a couple of days ago, I was thinking about these programs and I noticed a similarity I had not seen before
See if you do too.
Burn Notice is about a former spy who has been booted out of the intelligence community and must now rely on his best friend, his sometime girl friend, and often his mother to continue in a low rent of espionage.
Royal Pains is about a doctor who was drummed out of his prestigious job as a New York City surgeon and must now rely on his brother, his girlfriend and a rich fella to eck out of living as a concierge doctor, low rent medicine indeed.
White Collar is about a jewel thief who has been fished out of jail by the FBI and can now do nothing on his own without the approval of his handler. He still gets up to crime but it’s now a far cry from the old days of a glamorous thief.
In Plain Sight is about a woman who works as Witness Relocation sheriff and because she, her mother, her sister are emotional train wrecks of one kind or another, she manages only with the help of her long suffering partner, her boss, her secretary and her boyfriend.
See a pattern? It is most clear in the case of the first three shows. A man riding high is brought low. He now survives by dint of his wits and only because he relies on people he never relied on before. This man is now thoroughly enmeshed in a small group of friends and relatives. Without them he is nothing.
Ok, let’s say you’re Monni Adams, of the Peabody Museum at Harvard. Professor Adams is famous for having detected and then explained patterns in Indonesian textiles. Explain, please, why this new pattern is so much in evidence in these USA Network shows.
What is happening in American culture that might help explain this new vision of our masculinity? After all, American culture has long been home to a notion of the unconstrained, rogue male. Consider all those tradtional TV heroes and movie stars, men who answered to no one. Why a new pattern? Why an enmeshed male?
Usual rules apply. Best answer gets a copy of Chief Culture Officer. Forgive me if I am a little slow getting to my "grading." It is easier to stage these contests than to adjudicate them.
McCracken, Grant. 2009. The Hammer Grammer. This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics. August 31. here.