Bromance is in the airwaves.
The newly named phenomenon, describing men who have close, nonsexual relationships of the type that usually occur between two women, has been pushing its way onto television for years. Think back to Chandler and Joey’s awkward expressions of love that “Friends” mined for laughs or even George Costanza’s man-crushes on “Seinfeld.” (A bromance, after all, is just a man-crush that’s reciprocated on both ends.) Or go even further back, to “The Odd Couple’s” Oscar and Felix. Outside of the romantic realm, they behaved just like an old married couple.
But even if the relationships, with their catchy new moniker, aren’t new, rarely if ever has television seen such a concentration of them. There are the “Flight of the Conchords” boys who joke (or are they serious?) that the women they date get two boyfriends for the price of one. “Desperate Housewives’” Susan is irritated because her new boyfriend seems as interested in hanging with her ex-husband as with her, and “Entourage’s” Eric and Vince continue to be more important to each other than any of the long line of girls that trail behind them.
Man love - or at least very strong like - is taking the place of the romantic conquest as a central theme in today’s television landscape.
Here are some of our favorite brouples:
The presidents of bromance
Who they are: Barney Stinson and Ted Mosby, from “How I Met Your Mother”
How they met: At the urinal. Seriously. Barney spotted Ted, pegged him as his new wingman and promptly taught him how to pick up a girl. The rest was penguin-suit and slap-bet history.
Most bromantic moment: When Ted is in a minor accident, Barney rushes to the hospital to make sure he’s OK. On the way, Barney is injured and ends up in traction. He doesn’t regret it.
Why they’re meant for each other: Barney sees Ted’s inner cool guy, who is pretty much invisible to everyone else. And Barney, who often comes across as a cad, has an honest affection for Ted and always comes through for his buddy when the chips are down.
On-the-rocks moment: Ted dumps Barney after Barney hooks up with Ted’s ex-girlfriend, Robin. Barney, heartbroken, goes on the search for a new bromantic partner but finds only an empty hole in his heart and a rebound wingman. The evening ends with him sitting in a bar with Robin, in tears at the mention of Ted.
Favorite activity: Penguin-suiting up. Or pulling a “Have you met Ted?” (Both are, essentially, techniques for picking up women.)
A legal union
Who they are: Denny Crane and Alan Shore, two hot-shot lawyers from “Boston Legal”
How they met: When Alan is dismissed from his high-profile lawyer gig fast enough to give him whiplash, Denny rides to his legal rescue and earns him beaucoup dollars from his old firm. Denny then takes Alan on as an employee in his own firm.
Most bromantic moment: Instead of going home to the loving arms of a wife, the two often decompress at the end of the day by sharing a drink and cigar on a balcony overlooking the city.
Why they’re meant for each other: They both recognize the awesomeness of Shirley (Candice Bergen). Shirley is the love of Denny’s life. Alan dressed up as Shirley for a Halloween party when they were supposed to dress up as the person they admired most. And they can both get, shall we say, creative with their moral reasoning.
On-the-rocks moment: When Denny shot a would-be mugger - all below-the-knees shots - the cops picked him up for carrying a concealed firearm. Alan seemed like an obvious choice for representation, but Denny chose another colleague instead. He thought Alan was too “anti-gun.”
Favorite activity: Airing their political beliefs in a straightforward, often preachy fashion; encouraging people to vote.
Who they are: Hiro Nakamura and Ando Masahashi, bestest buds and would-be world savers from “Heroes”
How they met: Before Hiro realized he can freeze time, both were comic-book fans and slaves to the corporate man, who also happens to be Hiro’s father.
Most bromantic moment: Hiro popped into the future this season and caught a glimpse of newly powered Ando killing him with red lightning bolts shot from his hands. When Hiro gets back to the present, he freezes out his bud. The two are captured, thanks to a boneheaded plan gone wrong, and Hiro’s escape plan fails. Ando steps in and gets a heartfelt apology from Hiro, who says he was a fool for believing Ando would betray him.
Why they’re meant for each other: They’re evenly matched on the geek-out scale.
On-the-rocks moment: Hiro stabbed Ando in the chest to gain entry into a band of supervillians. Ando’s probably going to have some trouble forgiving him for that one.
Favorite activity: Reading about themselves in comic books written by a man who can paint the future. Oh, and failing to save the world.
The golden boys
Who they are: Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald, ridiculously rich and ridiculously good-looking high school students from the Upper East Side on “Gossip Girl”
How they met: They attend St. Jude’s, a prep school for the sons of people with more money than God.
Most bromantic moment: Nate’s dad got in a leetle trouble with the SEC. When his family ended up broke, Chuck sold shares of Victrola - the club he’d established hoping for a little attention from Daddy - to help his bud’s family out of the bind.
Why they’re meant for each other: Nate is completely unfazed by Chuck’s manipulative, occasionally gross, behavior. And Chuck doesn’t seem to notice that Nate does little more than stare vacantly and look confused. Also, how many other people can possibly understand the burden of being that rich and that pretty?
On-the-rocks moment: Nate was not pleased when he found out Chuck took the virginity of his ex-girlfriend, Blair, in the back of a limo. The two eventually made up, though, and if you can get past that, it’s bromance for real.
Favorite activity: They both enjoy an occasional encounter with a good-looking cougar or a classy, vitamin-water sponsored bash in the Hamptons.
Who they are: Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster (Gus), the fake-psychic and pharmaceutical-rep detective duo from “Pysch”
How they met: They’re lifelong friends who run a detective agency. Shawn, schooled by his police-officer father more or less since kindergarten, is a gifted observer who uses his talent to pose as a psychic in the local police department. Gus helps keep his devil-may-care attitude in check - and the pair out of jail.
Most bromantic moment: When Shawn discovered Gus had a fluke spring break marriage he didn’t know about, the faux-psychic was heartbroken. He’s been practicing his best-man speech since the seventh grade.
Why they’re meant for each other: Gus’ quick mind but generally straight-laced personality makes him the perfect foil for Shawn’s fast-talking, snake-oil-salesman persona.
On-the-rocks moment: Gus spent a week diligently studying for his pharmaceutical-rep test, only to log in for the test and discover Shawn had already taken it in his name. Then Shawn taunted him for continuing to use “chocolate thunder” as his password. Gus may still be trying to tackle Shawn.
Favorite activity: Solving crimes, natch. Shawn also enjoys teasing Gus mercilessly about his love for the National Spelling Bee, which he follows religiously.
Who they are: Gregory House and James Wilson, two brilliant doctors at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital on “House”
How they met: The pair (who graced the cover of TV Guide this month under the headline “Isn’t it Bromantic”) met at a medical convention.
Most bromantic moment: When a billionaire hospital board member guns for House’s career, Wilson comes to his defense. He was the only person to vote against House’s dismissal.
Why they’re meant for each other: They form the core relationship of the show. House needs approval and acceptance from Wilson, and Wilson needs to feel needed by House. Yes, it’s accurate to use “codependent” to describe their friendship.
On-the-rocks moment: This pair has its share of bumps in the road, but the latest split - over a girl - is the most serious. House, after a drunken evening in a bar, called Wilson for a ride home, but he got Wilson’s girlfriend, Amber, on the line instead. On the way home from the bar, the bus they were riding in was in an accident. Amber died, leading Wilson to decide he has been enabling House. Wilson quit the hospital, packed up and moved on. But they reconciled last week when Wilson drove House, against his wishes, to the funeral of House’s estranged father. Now Wilson’s returning to his old job.
Favorite activity: Bantering about whether House has popped too much Vicodin to perform an accurate diagnosis.