'Big Shots,' premiering Thursday on ABC

Rick Porter (MCT)

In the premiere episode of "Big Shots," the rakish character played by Dylan McDermott utters the following line: "Men - we're the new women."

Lord help us all.

"Big Shots," which debuts on ABC at 10 p.m. EDT Thursday, tries to give viewers "Sex and the City," but with dudes: Four powerful and successful guys, friends for years, gather regularly to hash out their problems and celebrate their successes. Except these four guys - played by Michael Vartan, Joshua Malina, Christopher Titus and McDermott - really are not people you want to spend any time with, let alone an hour each week.

Titus is Brody Johns, a hotshot lawyer for a crisis-management firm who eats corporate sharks for breakfast but is completely henpecked at home. Malina is Karl Mixworthy, the CEO of a drug company who has managed to land an attractive, loving wife and a hot mistress despite being twitchy and neurotic pretty much all the time. Vartan is James Walker, a rising (or so he thinks) star at his giant firm who's described as "the moral center" of the group, which means he mopes around a lot when he finds out his wife's having an affair. And McDermott is Duncan Collinsworth, the divorced head of a cosmetics company who still hooks up with his ex (Paige Turco) and is trying to hide a dalliance with a transgender hooker.

(For those keeping score, that's the second transgender affair on ABC this fall. "Dirty Sexy Money" has the other, far more interesting, storyline.)

That bit of business aside, Duncan is the only character who seemed capable of holding my attention. He's a jerk, sure, but McDermott plays him with a glint in his eye that says he knows it and won't apologize for it. He and Turco also play well off one another, although they have only a couple brief scenes.

The other guys, though, are just a joyless bunch. Vartan, Malina and Titus are all likable enough, but they're given precious little to make their characters endearing in any way. The attempts at comedy try way too hard, and whatever drama there is never really sparks.

A colleague pointed out that the dialogue in "Big Shots" sounds like a man's (creator Jon Harmon Feldman, in this case) idea of the way women wish men would speak. That seems just about right; I don't know many guys who think, speak or act at all the way these characters do - and it's not just because I don't know any CEOs.

Which brings us back to that "new women" line. Given the way these "Big Shots" act, women everywhere deserve an apology for being lumped in with them.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.