In the secret script at USA Networks (aka the enmeshed male), Grant McCracken thinks he's found USA's hit formula for shows like Burn Notice:
A man riding high is brought low. He now survives by dint of his wits and only because he relies on people he never relied on before. This man is now thoroughly enmeshed in a small group of friends and relatives. Without them he is nothing.
But his question is, Why this?
Explain, please, why this new pattern is so much in evidence in these USA Network shows.
What is happening in American culture that might help explain this new vision of our masculinity? After all, American culture has long been home to a notion of the unconstrained, rogue male. Consider all those tradtional TV heroes and movie stars, men who answered to no one. Why a new pattern? Why an enmeshed male?
He's even running a contest for the best explanation.
My only guess is that the imposition of great adversity makes it OK for traditional male hero characters to be a bit vulnerable, even sensitive. Which makes for better plots, and also makes plots that will appeal to women as well as men. And we've now moved to a state where a tough guy being a little vulnerable — with good cause — is not disqualifying.
That said, I still think from what little I've seen of him that that guy in Burn Notice is pretty wooden.