Rita Writes

January 19, 2010

“Men of a Certain Age” = Entertainment AND good writing

Filed under: Review,Uncategorized — Rita @ 1:35 am

While I accept TV as entertainment, I am always delighted when a program comes in a literate and intelligent package.

The new TNT program, “Men of a Certain Age” captures the real life angst of certain middle aged men without the hype.  It flows so naturally and the dialog is so unpolished, I feel like a voyeur; that I am peeping into the private lives of three flawed men grappling with living life on their own terms and missing the mark.  I guess that is the gift bestowed by good writing.

Gay employees, cut-throat car salesmen and unfaithful spouses are not memorialized, they simply populate a landscape these men can neither change nor accept.

The blundering antics of Ray Romano as a reluctant and new-to-the-dating-world man are accepted as normal because the writers have drawn a portrait of a man for whom lying about leg cramps to avoid premature ejaculation is almost inevitable.  His is an entirely consistent portrait. No mean fete.

How’d they do that?  Well, first, the acting is so profoundly understated (except Scott Bakula who is too good looking to be believed as a failed actor) that the writing is the star. The dialogue is natural and the characters are people we know.  Even Braugher’s over the top father is someone the viewer has met. His demands are harsh but he is so real we cannot help but respond with the same gut-wrenching agony as Bruagher.

The dialogue, always the bugaboo for talented writers, conveys much without underestimating the intelligence of the viewer.  We are allowed to know what we know and understand what is meant. All of which is aided by Andre Braugher‘s ability to conduct a complete conversation with facial expressions.

As writers, what can we learn from this visual example of excellent writing? That authenticity should never be sacrificed in the name of a wise crack, interesting side note or other literary distraction. Let our characters be exactly who they are in spite of our writing skill and creativity. Let us always create a world in which nothing is over explained.

Hats off to the writers and good Joss to the actors of “Men of a Certain Age.”



  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by RitaWrites: TV Can inform us about good writing: https://ritastories.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/men-of-a-certain-age-entertainment-and-good-writing/

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments — January 19, 2010 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  2. I agree 100%. I tuned into this show expecting to give it a try, but dismiss as lightweight. What a surprise.

    Comment by Linda — January 19, 2010 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  3. Excellent review. The show’s been growing on me. I also like the way the writers and actors use subtext. Finding realistic, well-crafted writing on TV is like discovering a hidden jewel. Mad Men has been this for me, as well as Friday Night Lights.

    Comment by Laurie Boris — January 20, 2010 @ 4:15 am | Reply

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