Mark Simpson on the decline and fall of male modesty
Telly seems to have been hacking my brain lately. The filthiest parts.
Just when you thought ITV2, the people who brought us Love Island couldn’t get any more spornographic, and the underdressed, over-muscled guys they insist on making us ogle entirely against our will couldn’t get any sluttier, along comes Bromans.
A gladiator-themed reality game show about ‘modern geezers in the time of Caesar’ that seems intent on taking sporno back to its sword-and-sandals (‘S&M’ for short) roots.
Or as the press release puts it:
Eight 21st century lads are to be transported back to the Roman Empire to see if they can cut it as gladiators.
The handsome boys will fight it out with help from their loving girlfriends. They may have the muscles but do these lads have what it takes to go down in history?
Missed single entendre alert!
Cameras will follow eight modern day couples as they’re transported to an ancient world where they’ll live and fight like gladiators did 2000 years ago
If gladiators wore gold lame briefs and were ‘fresh as fuck’.
Note though how the first attribute of the boys is ‘handsome’, the second is ‘muscles’ – while the girlfriends are merely ‘helpful’ and ‘loving’. Likewise, the trailer and the title openly foregrounds the leather-harnessed tarty ‘geezers’ as the main visual/erotic attraction, seemingly going one logical step further than Love Island.
All this – plus the fact it looks camper than a Roman army laid up for the night – made me tremble with more anticipation than Dr. Frank N. Furter at Rocky’s first leather jockstrap contest.
The first episode aired last Thursday and didn’t disappoint visually, providing the promised spornographic guy candy – including a slave market scene which, intentionally or not, looked like a stark statement about the objectification of men on telly today.
The lads were ‘forced’ – i.e. allowed – to strip bollock-naked, chained up in the arena and left to sweat and bake in the hot gaze of millions of TV viewers, while covering their shaved immodesty with their hands.
Some of them weren’t exactly very conscientious about covering up: after all, like most young men today, they had painstakingly depilated themselves ready for their close-up. And neither were the VT editors.
The odd thing though is that although this flashing was happening in broad noonlight on primetime most of the guys didn’t look terribly naked at all. The ink, the waxing, the sculpting, the oiling, and the total lack of shame made sure of that. But then, the spornosexual body is designed and ‘built’ to be seen unclothed.
As the men sweated in chains, the women (in skimpy bikinis), scrabbled about in the dust, fighting over a limited number of bags of clothes for the men. But this seemed entirely pointless as neither the men nor the viewers really wanted them to find any. Those ‘geezers’ whose partners failed to get them any clothes – entirely by chance, the swoliest, most shredded guys – had to wear a posing pouch straight out of Athletic Model Guild back issues for the rest of the episode. They didn’t look exactly crestfallen.
As reality TV though, the first episode teetered on the edge of floppiness. Bromans was not built in a day, only semi-erected. Hopefully future episodes (eight in total) will prove me wrong, but on the basis of last week’s outing it looked almost as if the title and the trailer was the whole point. Though admittedly, one that was entirely worth it.
Perhaps it’s just because I’m a big homo, but I’m also not entirely sure at the moment what the women on Bromans bring to the toga party, apart from visual proof of the heterosexuality of guys who otherwise look like gay-for-pay porn stars. And perhaps also an alibi for the straight men watching the show (though I doubt today’s young men really need one). As a female friend put it to me about the WAGs: ‘they just get in the way’.
Also because I’m a big homo, I thought some of the campery was poorly ‘executed’. The Emperor’s skinny assistant Dominus who presides over the games has obviously been cast and dressed to look like Kenneth Williams but isn’t really cutting it. They should have cast Julian Clary – who would know that ‘Not many men enter the Emperor’s ring’ is a setup, not a punchline.
That said, the casting of former Royal Marine Commando and now pectastic pro sporno (i.e. ‘fitness model’) David McIntosh, a man who can only be described as terrifyingly beautiful, as ‘Doctore’, the gladiator drill-sergeant, was perfect. His job is to beast the boys over the next seven weeks for our pleasure, and possibly theirs too. I’m sure lots of people would pay for the privilege of feeling the lash of his whip.
McIntosh certainly had the most awesome eyeliner of anyone on Bromans, which as in Love Island, was careful to include clips of some of the male contestants discussing their grooming routines: ‘I spent two hours to look this good, know what I mean?’ boasted one male hussy.
Tom Trotter, a posh semi-pro rugby player and humpy fitness model with really great hair, was also shown telling us that he is ‘quite feminine, really’. I was especially taken with Tom and also inked Brandon Myers, another fitness model and Instagram personality, who was funny and vulgar in a broad Estuary accent: ‘I just did a nervous fart – can you smell it?’.
He’s an avid follower of fashion too, Mr Myers: ‘I loved the Roman fashions,’ he has said. ‘I was the stylist of the palace for both the boys and the girls. The men’s togas made my tattoos look really good.’ And they did.
I think both Tom and Brandon have real star quality – though actually I’m not sure that my brains is much involved in that opinion.
So I got even more excited when I thought I noticed that Tom and Brandon seemed to be quite taken with one another, bromantically speaking. Probably more out of wishful-thinking than anything else, I tweeted that they were the Chris and Kem (the couple that really won this year’s Love Island) of Bromans.
So imagine how I felt when Brandon found my tweet, gave it a thumbs up – and tweeted Tom about it, asking ‘what you reckon Tom?’.
Tom reckoned yes. ‘I’ll take that’ he tweeted back.
(FYI according to the tabs, baby-faced Brandon, like Love Island‘s Chris, is supposed to have an XXL penis that he’s not shy about showing off. I am of course following him now. Avidly.)
Straight after Bromans, the ITV2 game show Celebrity Juice featured Chris and Kem – in one of the games they had a chocolate eclair strapped to each of their groins, and were instructed by the host Keith Lemon to lick the icing off each other’s strapacaketome as quickly as possible. They obliged, in a 69 position – camera zooming in for extreme close-ups, as they sucked on each other’s cream-filled treats. Expertly, as it turned out.
I can’t wait to see Tom and Brandon going at it. I bet they gobble down each other’s fondant topping in an even faster time.
Bromans is on ITV2, Thursdays, at 9pm.