In King of Queens, "Doug" is true to the new form. He’s a big lug. He fails to wrap his wife’s present and ends up hiding it behind the Christmas tree. He compares coitus to hitting a baseball and later in the episode refers to his sperm as "bullets." He is, in short, a dolt.
But there was a second theme I didn’t anticipate: Dougie the shlemiel. Doug is hectored by his wife and belittled by his parents. Overwhelmed by performance anxiety, he is reduced to shouting at his penis, "come on, damn you, come on."
In Still Standing, "Bill" is incorrigible. When he and his friend drop their pizza on the floor they try to give it away to visitors. When his wife tries to convene a meeting of her book club in the living room, Bill mocks the idea, his wife, and the participants. His wife has specific instructions for him, "why don’t you and your friend watch the game, scratch yourself, and burp upstairs?"
Instead, Bill demonstrates a surprisingly astute grasp of the book in question. Lest this take him too far off form, he explains the book by comparing it to the movie Commando, revealing that he read it while sitting on the toilet, and eventually we discover that part of his participation in the book club was scripted for him by his son. Bill’s a dolt, too.
This is the new male, "man as Labrador": happy, dim, appetitive, predictable, shameless until corrected (whereupon he becomes "aw shucks, you caught me" bashful) and incorrigible until corrected (whereupon he starts shouting at his penis). Really, I feel like Godfrey Cambridge, who, when asked what he thought about Jimmy J.J. Walker, the TV star who entered every room shouting, "Dy-no-mite, said, quietly, "That doesn’t happen at my house.
This version of maleness has many roots and many authors. But some of it comes from the 1980s and that extraordinary moment when feminism seemed very close to accomplishing a revolutionary shift of gender principles. Somehow a symbolic deal was fashioned. Some men and some women struck a deal.
Men could then say, "We’ll pretend you are too complicated to understand, that the subtleties of the feminist era are beyond us, And you may suppose that we are too simple to understand, really just big happy Labradors." This is the new gender separatism and the stuff of the situation comedy on Monday night. It’s no longer Lucy who’s got some splaining to do.