TNT’s Men of a Certain Age starred Andre Braugher, Ray Romano and Scott Bakula.
I just sealed up the little red envelope and put it in my mailbox. I am sorry I had to say goodbye to my three new friends, Andre Braugher, Ray Romano and Scott Bakula. If you are a man of a certain age — your 40s, 50s or 60s — You really should check out the pitifully short television run of Men of a Certain Age.
The series, which spent only two years on the TNT network, spoke to me personally. It’s funny, dramatic, and an exceptionally well-written peek into the daily, mundane lives of guys hovering near 50. Braugher is a happily married family man, Romano is recently separated and Bakula, a never-wedded Peter Pan figure.
I find it difficult dissecting what drew me in so much. Even though my wife and I have loved Scott Bakula since his Quantum Leap days, I never knew much about Andre Braugher. Sure, everybody loves Ray, but I only caught his sitcom sporadically. As the owner of a party supply shop who is a gambling addict, it’s great watching him contemplate a return to his primary passion, professional golf. But it’s the way we imagine ourselves in their shoes that made this series work for a mere 22 episodes.
In the show, Braugher has big shoes to fill, literally. He helps run a car dealership with his father, a retired fictitious LA Lakers star. It’s the very real, loving and respectful way, though, that he and his wife interact that makes you feel a little bit better about life.
Bakula is an often unemployed actor and aging lady’s man. Watching his story arc, it adds another key dimension to your own understanding of self. It’s almost as if these three guys are different aspects, different dimensions of the same person. Or they’re alternative paths that one person could traverse through their middle ages.
I know I run a risk when I let the entertainment industry dictate certain courses of action, but I have to say the show featured — as best it could — real life conversations about important, topical issues. Hearing these guys discuss all different facets of daily life — during their regularly scheduled hikes in the Hollywood hills or at the local diner — it made me happy to know that there were others feeling and talking about the same things I do. Even if it were just the writers plumbing their own lives for material, I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to listen in.
On the final disk of the final episode, I listened to the audio commentary and wished that the show would continue on for years to come. It could’ve served as a companion piece to my own journey. I learned that Ray Romano, one of the creators, had a movie version of the series with all new material, but the ratings just weren’t high enough. Even though it was critically acclaimed, it never made the numbers it needed to survive.
Regardless, I’m happy for the 22 hours I did have. As I said, I highly recommend it to anyone of a certain age, men or otherwise. Television isn’t always the place to find real life struggles, decisions, arguments and conversations. Great examples of common, yet compelling everyday conflict are rare to find on the tube. Men having important conversations with each other are fantastic role models for us all.