*The following paragraph contains minor spoilers for the series finale of Ted Lasso.
The season finale (series?) of Ted Lasso included the redemption arc of Nate, and the semi-redemption of Roy. Both are re-introduced to Ted Lasso’s “Diamond Dogs”–the club name for the group of men who work together yet gather on a moments notice (“Diamond Dog’s assemble!”) to discuss their problems. Nate revels being re-included in a group he missed when we switched clubs. Roy is trying to engage for the first time. It’s here where the writers provide some sage wisdom as Higgins offers advice to Roy’s conundrum of whether he can change,
Human beings are never gonna be perfect, Roy. The best we can do is to keep asking for help and accepting it when you can. And if you keep on doing that, you’ll always be moving towards better.
The final scene (spoiler) featuring Roy shows him entering the team therapist’s office for a routine appointment. A long way he’s walked from the gruff exterior of a man who by his own admission in the last episode, he can’t make sense of the feelings inside of him and decides he needs help. Whew. I get that.
The way shows like Ted Lasso broach toxic masculinity is–shall I say–liberating. To normalize the pathways to combat (funny choice of words) toxic masculinity, particularly surrounding finding help to make sense of the body, is one I think finally portrays something better for men to look up to.
Then there’s the show ‘Queer Eye’. TV I can vibe with.
In the first episode of the most recent #queereye7, the squad helps out a frat house. I know what you’re thinking, frat house bros. But it wasn’t that. The episode left me thinking: man, I have high hopes for the upcoming gen. (I often have this thought when I hear from Gen Z on a bunch of topics including faith.)
The theme for the episode centered around the formation of men broaching the impacts of toxic masculinity. I caught myself thinking, the contemporary church plays a role here. It perpetuates nonsense. In fact, the church is a hinderance to building healthy men. It does more harm than good when it comes to cultivating health.
Common values surrounding masculinity in the church are often no different than the toxicity in wider culture. For me, there was (and I will go out on a limb and say IS) no competent formation for men in the contemporary church that did not add fuel the destructiveness of toxic masculinity. Namely, how our culture blocks men crucial skills of attunement–how to NAME emotions that aren’t rage or anger. Not only that, how to respond to a range of emotions, including anger, in healthy ways.
During the episode I felt it when one dude, with tears in his eyes, said, “I don’t know what I’m feeling because I can’t give it a name.” Whew, I get it.
It’s also a HUGE step away from BURY those feelings, which ‘real’ bros are supposed to do.
For me, I’m only now coming to grips with a better way, a wider alertness to what is going on in my body. Yet I often still lack language in the moment to make sense of my feelings.
It gets me thinking. Can you imagine…a church that discipled men to be like Jesus?
Jesus had what, one time being rude? One time showing rage? Versus a life modelling a deep love ethic pointed directly to the ‘least of these’.
I can’t think of a more antithetical character to what churches peddle today than Jesus. Wild.
All of this to say, every season, five queer folks on TV do a better job forming a deeper love ethic in men (and society in general) than the trash put out by most churches. One fictitious group of sports dudes model healthier relationships than many church mens groups.
P.S. Dudes, normalize going to see a licenced therapist and gathering a group of men around you that you can just talk to and be–get this–vulnerable.