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  • Writer's pictureSusannah Powers Stengel

An Immodest Broposal

RECAP - CATCH OF THE SERIES


Spoilers For: Season 3 Workaholics, but I think you'll forgive me.



I just finished a "Let's Get Weird" full series binge of Workaholics (2011-2017). I loved it, despite (and ultimately, because of) the show's consummate penis-based idiocy. When my boyfriend began watching the show a few weeks ago, I remembered seeing a few episodes here and there in the past, and I found myself assuming the worst of media created by and starring burnout straight white boys. My brain's knee jerk reaction to such content? This show is full of asshats, and watching it may dilute my personal potential to overthrow the patriarchy and achieve gender equality. And yet, I stayed on the couch. There, I watched Anders, Adam, and Blake fail to self-actualize again and again. What kept me glued to male ineptitude on screen despite my hatred of it in lived practice?

Workaholics upends toxic masculinity with pure satire. Workaholics carries the viewer through an endless parade of male failures, and their antics makes men look stupid for the better.

Flaccid machismo anybody? They've got it, and they'll flaunt it.


Sexual rejection, workplace insensitivity, being tricked into a porno, missing social cues and romantic opportunities, failing to captivate a waiting crowd, rendered idiotic by a throng of teen girls, locked and thrown out of a party while hosting that same party. When I watch Workaholics, I am watching the just and correct face plant that all burnout white privileged boys should have--and the comedy of their ongoing project of failed masculinity delights me to no end because all the Landons and Davids and Johnathans I went to high school with just cheated on my paper, said whatever they wanted, and still dated the hot girls.


Careless white boys too often win in life, but Adam, Ders, and Blake have to eat the shit they sow.

What makes their shit-stained bro love story so special is the way they will always update their version of masculinity and make themselves as ridiculous as possible to build a braj brand together.



CATCH OF THE SERIES:

SEASON 3, EPISODE 7 "THE LORD'S FORCE"


The boys become inadvertent champions of queer love when they attend a local mega church performance entitled "The Lord's Force." The Lord's Force is full of, in their words, "buff ass dudes," and they cannot wait to see them chop blocks, rip phone books, and lift extreme weights skywards.


Their fascination with muscles, bulge, and the perfection of the male form has to wait a few hours. While they wait to meet the swoll stars in the parking lot, they treat us to a mumbling, punk-ass, mic-passing rap battle. Their failure to succeed always makes me feel so good.


After the show, Ders, Adam, and Blake befriend two of the stars, Samson and Ram, and initiate them to their don't-give-a-fuck culture with several rounds of drinks.



Samson and Ram, thus loosened, kiss in the parking lot. The trio spies them, and unfortunately, so does their pastor (played with spittle-flecked passion by the fantastic Tim Heidecker). While Samson and Ram claim their lusty moment was simply an act of "gay chicken," their papa pastor's not buying it, and they are thrown from The Lord's Force. Our beastly boys immediately offer to let the hunks crash at their pad.


What happens next? An attempt to get them sober and re-identify with their straight side backfires. Let's watch:


Samson and Ram are gay as the fires of hell, and that's a conflagration I can get behind.


Our main boys first deny what is happening in their own home, but a straight homie can only ignore so many intensive cries of orgasmic queer pleasure before they must confront and befriend the good gay of it all. This episode aired in 2013. Gay marriage wasn't legal. Most of my straight male friends that I talked to about gay rights at this time (in Texas but still) couldn't even talk about finding other men hot without getting all weird, let alone could they have have created a community in their homes to uplift queer culture. Adam, Ders, and Blake tussle with this same timid white straight boy sensitivity--but ultimately forge together a new way of being an ally--The Gaylord's Force. Combining a satire of strong man culture with a poke at fatuous religiosity, the trio can embrace queerness as something fierce, physical, and, just like their bromance for one another, full of love. They've got t-shirts of cocks/rainbows to prove it.


THE TOP MOMENT OF THE EPISODE:


Samson and Ram briefly rejoin The Lord's Force under pressure from their preacher, and are ready to re-deny their flagrant pleasure for each other as "just a phase." They leave the boys' home and get them free tickets to a show. Ders, Blake, and Adam sit giddily in the front row. Surrounded by a traditional crowd of conservative churchgoers, Samson and Ram struggle to complete the spectacular jewel of the show--to lift an imposingly heavy crucifix together above their heads. As they shake and falter, Adam stands and earnestly implores them to tap the honest strength inside of themselves. He says:


The men summon the strength of their true masculinity--out, gay, and in love with each other--to lift the crucifix and to share a tender kiss with it held aloft. The crowd loses their little minds, mothers shade their children's eyes, and the preacher goes ape shit. Ders, Adam, and Blake join The Lord's Force on stage and represent their allegiance to the queer lifestyle they first denied, then recognized, and now cherish. The church hisses around them.


The final scenes are a barrage of Adam hitting himself with things as he performs solo for a backyard performance of The Gaylord's Force. Samson and Ram have ditched them for a cupcake-based life together in Vermont, as is their sacred right.


I know it's pride month (year please) and I know how much amazing queer tv there is. (Feel free to light up the comments with some of your favorites. I'm always ready for more.) Workaholics is not a visionary show or a gay show. It is not politically forward. It is not a full portrait of the equity I wish to summon forth into my own world. What it does so masterfully do though is promulgate a ridiculous image of masculinity that eats itself, or better yet, masculinity that can fumble, with incredibly gauche awkwardness, to evolve. Maybe some of the normies watching this episode in 2013 managed to do the same.


That little rude bro evolution happens in "The Lord's Force" and that's why it's my favorite episode of the entire series.


What's your favorite episode of Workaholics?

What's your fave TV display of a masculine inferiority complex?


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