Can Guys Watch 'Girls'?

Yes. And they can also watch New Girl, Two Broke Girls, and most of the other female-centric comedies on TV today.

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HBO

There are lots of ladies on TV these days. Funny ladies, even. So many funny ladies that one of entertainment's most boisterous boneheads, Two and a Half Men creator Lee Arohnson, even noticed, providing his wildly misogynistic analysis: "[We're] approaching peak vagina on television to the point of labia saturation." Perhaps accidentally, Arohnson's comments are well-timed to the news, as the Lady TV situation is only becoming more engorged this week, with the arrival of ABC's Don't Trust the B— in Apartment 23 and HBO's Girls. And while his remarks are abhorrent, incorrigible, disgusting, and untrue—plus, as Lena Dunham, the wunderkind Jill-of-all-trades behind Girls points out, not even funny—they do reflect a very real attitude of many TV-watching dudes who stumble upon these female-centric shows. That is: Change the channel.

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While TV comedies have steadily grown more interesting, unique, and culturally exciting over the past three years, among the best new ones to arrive recently are quite blatantly "girl"-ish. There's New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, and just Girls. There's the titular bitch in Apartment 23 and Courteney Cox in Cougar Town, not to mention Showtime's two returning ladies-with-problems shows Nurse Jackie and The Big C. Girls be everywhere...and they're making really good TV. But guys aren't watching.

According to Nielsen statistics, 25 percent more women age 18 to 49 (the most desirable demographic to advertisers) watch 2 Broke Girls than do men. For New Girl, that number is 50 percent. But numbers only tell you so much. The furrowed, judgy, are-you-being-serious-right-now? expression that my roommate gave me when I proclaimed the zany, whip-smart New Girl pilot my favorite of the season says more. The guttural laugh my co-worker snorted when I suggested he check out 2 Broke Girls (he's a fan of Kat Dennings!) speaks volumes. Let's not get into what happened when I tried to convince a (male) friend to stop on Cougar Town when we were surfing for something to watch (it's not about cougars anymore, man); hell, even I had a panic attack Wednesday morning when I thought I forgot to delete the Courtney Cox sitcom of our DVR before my roommate came and could see that I recorded it.

OK. It's not that hard to see why guys may not be willing to give these shows a shot. Their titles probably scare them away, giving off a "this is a show about women and their issues" vibe. But that's a shame. Most of the shows are supremely well-done, daring, and, most importantly, fun to watch. And the perceptions about them are preposterously misconstrued. Unlike Sex and the City, or Desperate Housewives, or Designing Women, or any number of similar shows whose titles telegraph female-centric programming, this new crop isn't about Cosmos, tampons, manicures, or feminism. They're not particularly about "lady issues" at all—at the very least not to the extent that many of my colleagues and scary manly friends may believe.

New Girl, for example, was marketed with Zooey Deschanel batting her Precious Moments eyes, sporting polka dots, and otherwise being adorkable. But the show itself is as much about Max Greenfield's Schmidt learning to tone down his douchey-ness or Jake Johnson's Nick having to grow up (post-grad boy issues) as it is about Deschanel bein' quirky. Courteney Cox stopped prowling for young dudes on Cougar Town around its third episode; now the show differs from Scrubs, which was also created by Bill Lawrence, not at all. There's the same comedic sensibility and same relationship between characters on both shows, except one is headed by a woman and has an unfortunate title. Krysten Ritter's loathsome character in Apartment 23 finally introduces a female TV character who's a sociopath on par with House, Dexter, and Shameless's Frank Gallagher. And, yes, 2 Broke Girls may be more brazen with its use of the word "vagina" (which by today's standards means it's uttered once, maybe twice). But is that any more outlandish than the unsettlingly aggressive number of allusions to Ashton Kutcher's allegedly prodigious penis in the episode of Two and a Half Men that airs just after?

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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