There's something missing on television this year: Shirts. On men.
So far this season, an array of new shows, from Elementary, Arrow and Chicago Fire to The New Normal, Emily Owens, M.D. and Last Resort, has paraded toned male torsos. Popular returning series such as Hawaii Five-0, New Girl and even Modern Family have flashed abs, as well.
And in what may be seen as a pop-culture turning point, CBS daytime game show The Price Is Right just introduced its first male model - and producers promise he'll go topless from time to time.
wasn't always like this. In the 1970s and '80s, "it was a little like
spotting a rare bird. You'd be watching TV, then suddenly there was
this hunky shirtless guy," says Cosmopolitan editor at large John Searles. "Now every time you turn on the TV, there's a guy half-naked."
people theorize the recession has made the TV industry focus more
intently on pitching to women, who watch the most television - and who
still pack a lot of purchasing power in their handbags.
tie an outbreak of man-flesh to the economic trends touched off by the
great 'he-cession,' " says David Zinczenko, editor in chief of Men's Health,
who calls this the least-surprising trend in TV history. "Sex sold when
the medium was invented in the '40s, and it will still sell on whatever
screens we'll be watching in 2042."
"Women generally watch more
TV than men," says Brad Adgate of ad firm Horizon Media, so programmers
are pandering to their core audience. He traces the recent trend partly
to the social-media buzz created by another shirtless guy, soccer star
David Beckham, in a commercial in this year's Super Bowl: "It got a lot
of comments on Twitter; all these shows have hashtags, so it's just a
way to get them in the conversation socially."
Jay Ryan, a native New Zealander who stars as Vincent Keller on CW's remake of Beauty and the Beast, buys
into the marketing theories. "I think that it has to do with the
audience demographic becoming heavily female-based. They are the No. 1
shoppers in retail, and TV is made to sell products. So it's only
natural (for) male actors having to get their kits off."
As for The Price Is Right's
first male model, Rob Wilson, executive producer Mike Richards says:
"We're in daytime, and daytime is predominantly female. We've made lot
of changes on The Price is Right, in terms of the prizes, to target women more.
is kind of an extension of know your audience and know what your
audience likes," he says, "and the sound that the women in our audience
made when they first saw Rob confirmed that we had done the right