Here’s a fun one for you – men who watch sitcoms are probably less toxic. Yes, that’s right – they are less likely to:
- Assert power over women,
- or be violent.
In an article published in the Journal of Sex Research, 2022, Neilson et al pointed out that in trying to make sense of toxic masculinity, research generally looks at isolated factors – the connection between upbringing and masculinity, or between emotional suppression and masculinity. To combat this, they got together and decided to build correlations between different behaviours and toxic masculinity. They analysed 181 male students – average age, 19 years – across a one year period. They first collected data around the pressure to conform to traditional masculinity, exposure to magazines, pop culture, alcohol, self-efficacy and sexual self-esteem, and so on. They then spent a whole year studying the level of harmful behaviours these subjects exhibited.
Keeping all else aside, they found that the men watched sitcoms over, say TV dramas, tended to have healthier relationships with women.
And this totally makes sense – by and large, male characteristics in sitcoms generally have female friends, laugh at themselves, hold themselves accountable, and use humor to their and others’ advantage and not to deflect bad behaviour.
Not only this – sitcoms are doing a very good job at representing a wider range of masculinity. We have the openly gay and much loved David of Schitt’s Creek, Abed Nair from Community who shows an accurate portrayal of autism, Rogelio from Jane the Virgin who completely dismantles the notion of absentee father and douses in lilac and self-love, Sex Education’s Rahim who is… VOCAL about his feelings.
Sitcoms may just be doing a better job than any other media in paving the path for a healthier masculinity.
So dear men, watch more sitcoms! It’s good for your relationships, and your mental health!
I write. I read. I do yoga. I hula hoop. I love cats and dogs in equal measure. I'd say the same for wine. My zen motto: "Eat kale for the body, cake for the soul." Find me on IG: @prachigangwani87