The dicey appeal of Men Behaving Badly can be summed up by quoting one of the men, Kevin (Ron Eldard), who says women are ”like cats: moody, demanding, aloof, and they act like they’re doing you a favor when you want sex.” Sexist sentiments exploded by the stupidity of the guy expressing them is what this show’s about.
Based on the hit British comedy of the same name, Men stars Eldard, soft-eyed puppy dog Shep from ER (you know, Julianna Margulies’ sweetie, who had the bad-temper breakdown), and — as his pal and roommate, Jamie — Rob Schneider (you know, the one who was funny for a couple of weeks on Saturday Night Live as the copy-machine guy). Kevin and Jamie are supposed to be men’s men — perpetually hungry (they snack on beer and Fudgsicles), perpetually horny, perpetually adolescent. Penetrating their hormonal haze is Kevin’s girlfriend, Sarah (Justine Bateman), a nurse who behaves pretty badly herself. She says of her patients, ”Sometimes I wish they’d all die so I could sleep in.”
Combine the jokes I’ve quoted with the fact that when Jamie runs out of coffee filters, he uses dirty underpants, and you get a pretty good idea of just how low Men will go. But, as overseen by creator Matthew Carlson, this bad-taste extravaganza isn’t tawdry like, say, Married…With Children. The lines are a little sharper. The main problem is that Men’s male-piggy premise leads to too many obvious jokes. When Kevin says he envies babies because they get to breast-feed, you wonder how many times you’ve heard that one before. Similarly, Schneider tends to mug like Seinfeld’s Kramer and go all slack-jawed a la every dumb-cluck character on TV since Gomer Pyle.
But Eldard and Bateman are likable; if Men can transcend its cliches, it might prove fun watching them misbehave. C+