While watching the pilot of CBS’ new bro-vehicle We Are Men (which premieres Sept. 30, but is now online), I was struck with a sneaking sense of sitcom déjà vu. That’s because I’ve definitely seen this episode before — in the cumulative form of every romantic comedy ever.
We Are Men stars Christopher Nicholas Smith as Carter, a sweet and genuine twentysomething who gets jilted at the altar by his college love Sara (Fiona Gubelmann). His life now in shambles, he moves into a swanky temporary living apartment complex adjacent to Hollywood. There he meets three older dudes who are also now-single (Tony Shalhoub, Jerry O’Connell, and Kal Penn) and enjoying the complex’s amenities and plethora of women. (Where have I seen this before? Oh right, college.) Anyhoo, the crew convinces Carter that losing the love of his life is actually a good thing, with creepy Frank (played by an ill-fitting Shalhoub) saying: “You are a free man now. You can finally live. We are taking you under our wing.” Thus the fierce foursome go out for fast food, play doubles tennis, kvetch about their exes in the hot tub, lay out, and go out for cocktails to meet cute
For a show about dudes it sure relies on repurposing female foursome tropes. Men’s theme song is even a testosterone-filled version of “I Will Survive.” The guys do everything together. And at the end of the episode, there’s the stereotypical grand gesture when Carter breaks into Sara’s house to win her back. But thankfully, and because the show needs to last more than one episode, the guys convince Carter that marrying her is a terrible idea (by literally interrupting their vows).
But for all its familiarity, there’s wiggle room for potential. Penn and O’Connell’s characters have great comedic timing and are nice foils to the greasiness of Shalhoub’s womanizing and unabashed Asian fetishing (in giving advice to Carter, he says, “Time to move on, son. Where do you stand on Asian women?”). The hidden gem may be the main character, as Christopher Nicholas Smith’s Carter seems like an earnest, respectful, true-love-seeking fellow. But what’s most interesting is that Men highlights each guy’s need for relationship rehab — everyone had a totally unromantic backstory. Hopefully the show will continue to focus on their issues, as that’s something we haven’t yet seen on TV — a show highlighting guys and their awful relationship behaviors.
Here’s a rundown of the Men and their respective romantic mishaps:
Frank Russo (Tony Shalhoub)
Job: Successful clothing manufacturer
His deal: Four-time divorcée with a fetish for Asian girls
Vice: Only dates much younger women he can’t relate to
Gil Bardas (Kal Penn)
Job: Small business owner
His deal: Separated from his wife
Vice: He cheated on his wife with what looked to be her sister; won’t let go
Stuart Weber (Jerry O’Connell)
His deal: Two-time divorcé who suffers from high self-esteem
Vice: Still viciously angry at ex-wives
Carter (Christopher Nicholas Smith)
Job: Markets industrial paint
His deal: The only woman he’s ever slept with just left him
What do you think, PopWatchers? Will you tune in?