Best Men: Which TV Males Do You Want Your Kids Watching?

The decline and fall of “guy” in popular culture offends more than just conservatives — I have a liberal friend raised with an absent father, and he has had just about enough of the man-child/feminized portrayals. Hollywood, like these schmucks, has spent at least two decades apologizing for a gender, damning men from birth, either infantilizing or neutering men in service to a can-do female lead or a pacifist guilty conscience.

I’ve noted a few exceptions. Booth, from Bones, is my favorite.

Following several decently produced seasons, Bones no longer has first-tier writing; production seems content to let previously buoyant leads regress to character actor depth is the service of simpler joke-writing (the Homer Simpson phenomenon). Now, Booth isn’t all there. But he was a rare unapologetically masculine character, made more so by the recognition — which most of us possess, being one or having been in the company of men — that masculine doesn’t imply the preening “macho” scapegoat that left culture uses as a measuring stick for self-superiority.

Generally, among the manly men I know, “masculine” means the precise opposite: cultivating toughness in the service of others, not in vanity. Clinical in life-or-death decision-making, yet naked emotional with loved ones; can eat wings and wear a beer-can helmet in the service of inner-child fun and not date-rape.

That’s Booth. Throw in that he served as an elite military sniper and answered an optional request to return to Iraq, and that he would take two bullets for his son before breakfast.

I appreciated last season’s storyline wherein a love interest took advantage of Booth’s black-and-white morality, mistaking it for naivety. She, of course, the one frequently sidetracking her success to feed her “nuanced” self, is what most responsible adults recognize as naivety. Booth understood that, stayed true, had a few fingers of whiskey and moved on.

Good stuff, and a character I’d want influencing my son but for the overwhelming gore the show has always contained – shocking for an 8:00 p.m. slot — and the fading scripts that define the most recent productions.

Sticking to the past decade or so, got any male favorites of your own?

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