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Soapbox: What's the Matter With "My Boys"

Soapbox: What's the Matter With "My Boys"

Because I went to journalism school in Chicago and have lots of guy friends, I was excited to watch the new show "My Boys," which airs Tuesday nights at 10 on TBS. The show follows a sportwriter named PJ (played by Jordana Spiro), who lives in Chicago, writes for the Sun-Times, and has a pack of close guy friends. It sounded right up my alley.

But after seeing the first two episodes, I've mostly just been nothing but annoyed and frustrated by this show. Many reviewers have compared "My Boys" to "Sex and the City," since the protagonist is a writer who provides continuous narration about her love life. But in this case, the narration is in the form of relentless sports comparisons, i.e. "Love is like baseball". According to "My Boys" creator Betsy Thomas, the show is meant to be a kind of "Sex and the City" for women who don't always relate to the super-feminine characters on that show. In an interview on, Thomas says

"I love sports and sort of begrudgingly wear makeup, and I have a weekly poker game, and I think when I first wrote this, I felt very alienated by a lot of the women portrayed on TV."

But in attempting to offer up a less cliched version of "Sex and the City," the writers for "My Boys" have just dug those cliches deeper and deeper. For the rest of my rant,

Instead of the age-old romance issues that Carrie Bradshaw struggles with in "Sex and the City" (namely, the Mars versus Venus conundrum), PJ's problem is that she's too much like a guy, and this, apparently, isn't sexy. The thing that is hard to understand, however, is what could be NOT sexy about PJ. She's physically attractive, intelligent, straightforward, and assertive. She doesn't seem to like playing relationship games. She loves sports, poker, and beer. She is, it would seem, a dreamboat.

But on the show, these traits are a major problem. In one scene in which PJ is trying to make out with love-interest Bobby (Kyle Howard), he wants to slow down and just talk. He then freaks out, saying that "the girl" is supposed to be the one who wants to slow things down. Really? I thought guys liked it when women see what they want and go for it.

And then there's PJ's one girlfriend, Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), who exists solely to provide the "girly" voice in this masculine world. She is the quintessential caricature of girliness, to the point where I wonder what on earth she could possibly have in common with PJ. Opposites may attract, but how would these two get through a conversation in real life without becoming disgusted with one another? For a show that seems to be reaching for refreshingly real, this friendship is laughably unrealistic.

Yet overall, the reviews for this show have not been as bad as I would have expected, and this is surprising. What am I missing? Is the appeal simply that PJ is a new, different character on TV, giving voice to all the women who were called tomboys growing up? The good thing I will say about this show is that, unlike of every other movie or TV show in which the woman is too masculine/plain-looking/forward/loud and changes to be more attractive to men, PJ hasn't (yet) compromised her values or her personality to be more pleasing to her love interest. That's one less "foul ball" for this show, I suppose.

Have you guys watched "My Boys"? What did you think?


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