ABC’s new series Big Shots (Thursdays at 10 pm EDT), which premiered last night, is clearly intended to be a male version of Desperate Housewives. Think of it as Desperate CEOs.
The central characters of the program are the heads of four corporations, and the hook is that although their businesses are doing well, their personal lives are a mess.
One is enormously henpecked, another is divorced and being set up for a gross public humilation and has a young-adult daughter who openly hates him (or seems to), another is cheating on his wife, and the other’s wife has been cheating on him with his boss.
Get the irony? At work they’re Masters of the Universe, but at home they’re ineffectual schlubs.
Yes, the show is that plausible and meaningful.
As noted earlier, Big Shots is part of the current TV season’s trend toward the feminization of adult males. As one of the Big Shots says in the pilot episode, "Men—we’re the new women."
The message Big Shots sends is very simple and direct: even the most powerful men in the world cannot control the women in their lives, so you weakling middle-class losers definitely have to bend your knees to Girl Power or be destroyed.
That frightfully misogynistic vision may be true in Hollywood’s fevered dreams, but in the real world the Donald Trumps at the top dump their wives the moment they become the least bit annoying or, worse, no fun any more, and any infidelity on the women’s part brings instant destruction thanks to brilliantly crafted prenuptial agreements.
In addition, even in the middle and lower classes the situation is not as Big Shots makes it out to be. Men and women do not have to exist in a state of mutual competition as if marriage or other male-female relationships were a zero-sum war in which any gain by one is a loss for the other. On the contrary, in a real loving relationship, a gain for one party is a gain for the other. And a good many people do live that way.
That sort of insight is entirely missing from Big Shots.
What is even less forgivable is that the plot contrivances are not convincing, funny, or interesting. A couple of the central characters are somewhat likeable, but the show turns even that into a negative: watching them endure disasters and humiliations without any redemptive outcome inspires neither pity nor fear but only frustration and annoyance.
And so it is with Big Shots in general.