Building a Better Man
In an era of bad behavior, one new show is changing the conversation.
Posted Oct 26, 2017
Men behaving badly, particularly those in positions of power, is certainly nothing new. What’s new to the public is the prevalence of these behaviors in the media industry. From the infamous “locker room talk” video to the fall of Roger Ailes and now Harvey Weinstein’s tumble from grace, there seems to be an endless supply of powerful men harassing innocent women. As much as these stories have dominated the headlines there are some positive stories about men out there too. Keep in mind that amidst all these negative stories there are far more good guys out there than bad. More importantly, many of these men want to have positive conversations about everyday life issues and quite frankly, about how to be a better man.
In this crowded field of negative media, there is one show this fall looking to do just that and it is aptly named Better Man. The brainchild of longtime writer and current Special Projects Editor for AARP Magazine, Stephen Perrine, along with collaborator Gary Rosen, Better Man is a show targeted towards men for the purpose of driving more open conversations about men by men. As the former Editorial Creative Director of Men’s Health magazine, Perrine has been focusing on the psychology of men for a long time and felt that it was time to develop a platform to get men to partake in the conversation about their role in guiding and mentoring other men as well as how they relate to their female counterparts.
The show is hosted by former NFL linebacker and CBS sportscaster Brian Jones along with celebrity yoga instructor and former New York Giants yoga coach Gwen Laurence. Perrine notes that the show “is an opportunity to hear men addressing things that they otherwise don’t typically address.” What really makes the show work is the fact that “Brian is very open. His job used to be crushing running backs for a living and now he is an avid practitioner of yoga and meditation, but he is still a guy’s guy” Perrine notes, and he feels strongly about encouraging men to have more open conversations. Gwen, on the other hand, provides a great balance. Perrine notes that she is an accomplished woman who has spent her career coaching tough male athletes on yoga, a sport not often affiliated with guys.
Conversations with men start from the side
Throughout his career as an editor, Perrine learned how to take unexpected approaches to tough male-oriented issues through the side doors of humor and pop culture references. He points out that men will go directly at each other when it’s about confrontation or competition, but not for conversation. Women tend to confront those more sensitive interpersonal issues in a more direct way than men do, which is why so much lifestyle media is female oriented. Going directly at a man raises his defenses, which can derail a conversation pretty quickly.
As an example, Perrine points out that when two men meet-up at a restaurant they will typically sit side-by-side at the bar whereas women will typically sit across from each other at a table. He notes that this even holds true when it comes to the social activities where men typically engage in more side-by-side activities like fishing, golfing, and even attending sporting events to name a few. Men prefer to interact in side-by-side activities which means you sometimes have to come at them sideways if you want to confront some of the touchier subjects like insecurities about hair loss, weight, or aging.
In light of this, part of the show’s strategy is to approach men sideways and during a time when they are in their comfort zone. In most major markets the show will air either right before or right after NFL football. Creating a safe place for guys to talk about issues is really Perrine’s goal. Men want to talk about their families, health, relationships, careers, but don’t have a place to serve as an opening to comfortably talk about it. Having a show air on Sunday around football with a former NFL player is a great way to open the door.
According to Perrine, you can expect to see Brian and Gwen tackle such subjects as:
- Embracing aging and dealing with hair loss
- Unique ways to stay in shape and manage weight
- Dealing with career stress and balancing your life
- Managing road rage
- Making whole life changes to be there for your family
- Attitudes towards money and providing for your family
Lifestyle shows are rarely angled towards men and Better Man is looking to change that. “This is a show where guys can see themselves reflected and learn some cool things,” says Perrine.