From the meth-dealing but devoted family man Walter White of AMC’s Breaking Bad, to the part-time basketball coach, part-time gigolo Ray Drecker of HBO’s Hung, depictions of male characters perplexed by societal expectations of men and anxious about changing American masculinity have become standard across the television landscape. Engaging with a wide variety of shows, including The League, Dexter, and Nip/Tuck, among many others, Cable Guys identifies the gradual incorporation of second-wave feminism into prevailing gender norms as the catalyst for the contested masculinities on display in contemporary cable dramas.

Examining the emergence of “male-centered serials” such as The Shield, Rescue Me, and Sons of Anarchy and the challenges these characters face in negotiating modern masculinities, Cable Guys analyzes how these shows combine feminist approaches to fatherhood and marriage with more traditional constructions of masculine identity that emphasize men’s role as providers. She explores the dynamics of close male friendships both in groups, as in Entourage and Men of a Certain Age, wherein characters test the boundaries between the homosocial and homosexual in their relationships with each other, and in the dyadic intimacy depicted in Boston Legal and Scrubs. Cable Guys provides a much needed look into the under-considered subject of how constructions of masculinity continue to evolve on television.

Table of Contents and Introduction available from NYU Press webpage.

Also available from Amazon.


"Cable Guys is an incredible work that should further cement Lotz's place as a considerate yet comprehensive expert on media and gender studies. Her writing . . . oozes confidence, knowledge, and reflection for her themes and televised tales."-PopMatters

"Lotz (communication studies, Univ. of Michigan; Redesigning Women: Television After the Network Era) here explores how cable television is dramatizing contemporary American male masculinity. The author identifies and focuses on three narrative types: serials that emphasize the development of of a central male protagonist (e.g., Breaking Bad; Dexter), shows set in male enclaves (e.g., Rescue Me; Entourage), and stories featuring intimate male friendships (e.g., Boston Legal; Nip/Tuck). Lotz argues that these dramas depict straight, largely white men wrestling with what it means to be manly in today's post-second-wave feminism and in the context of rising queer visibility. She concludes that the shows' characters all struggle to combine old and new modes of manhood . . . . Lotz offers a concise and insightful analysis of the productions she does examine. Verdict: Scholars will value Lotz's contribution to media and masculinity studies, as will more casual viewers who enjoy watching cable television with a critical eye."-Library Journal, Anna J. Clutterbuck-Cook, Massachusetts Historical Soc. Lib., Boston

Cable Guys is a remarkable book that will transform the way we think about both television and constructions of masculinity. This clear, well-written, and deeply engaged book refuses to generalize about masculinity and instead reveals the complexity of straight, white men on television. Covering a wide range of programs, from cable to broadcast television, Amanda Lotz offers us an indispensable resource for the fields of media studies, television studies and gender studies.”-Sarah Banet-Weiser,author of Authentic™

"Amanda Lotz impressively maps out important features of television's representations of men and shifting masculinities in the 21st century. Her careful analyses of these series makes this book an essential resource for anyone interested in television, gender, and culture."-Ron Becker, author of Gay TV & Straight America

"Cable Guys is essential reading for students and scholars working in television studies and in the gendered politics of representation. The book is clear enough to be accessible to an undergraduate audience, while it is also sufficiently subtle and illuminating to be satisfying to more advanced students and scholars."-International Journal of Communication, Katherine Sender

"Lotz explores modern visions of masculinity following third wave feminism and epitomized in the rhetoric of male protagonists in cable programming. Mostly eschewing networks’ depictions of problematized males, Lotz zeroes in on straight male one-on-one friendships, what she calls the ‘homosocial enclave of the male group,’ and a genre that particularly challenges male characters, the emerging ‘male centered-serials.’”-Choice