Christopher Moynihan has something to say about the modern man. Well, sort of. Moynihan is the creator and star of the new ABC series, “Man Up!,” which posits that men are not the same as they were generations ago: Our fathers and grandfathers fought in wars and didn’t take any lip. This generation of guys uses hazelnut creamer and has a zillion pairs of shoes.
“To guy-dom, ‘Star Wars’ is very important,” Moynihan says. “For the guys who were born when we were born, and you’re in your 30s, you were born right at that time when it was so influential. Nothing was more exciting in my childhood than going to see ‘Empire Strikes Back.’ I was 7 years old and it just burns into your psyche. For guys our age, it is.
In doing a show about these men, you have to make a nod to the fact that their lives were informed by those movies. Especially the character of Kenny [Dan Fogler]. We set out to do [last week’s] episode about these two characters having to become friends and it was like, what was the most important thing to Kenny. And it would be ‘Star Wars.’ … There was a little nod to all the things Lucas has added to it over the years, that true diehard fans like Kenny would be reluctant to embrace, so he watches in its ‘purest form,’ the way it was meant to be seen … on Betamax.”
Moynihan, who also created “Man Up!,” says the show comes from the fact that “I love doing stuff about guys. I love doing stuff about friends who’ve been friends since they were 10 years old. They have a lot of history, and for all intents and purposes, they’re family.”
The history he shares with his friends — as well as with his father and grandfather — became the hook he used to sell “Man Up!”
“I noticed in my 30s that I was leading a very different life than my father had and that my grandfather had,” Moynihan says. “And the line that we say in the pilot about World War II and Vietnam is loosely based on me. My grandfather was in WWII and was wounded on the beach of Anzio, Italy, and my father was a police officer in Bronx in the ’60s during the riots. And I spent the better part of my adult life sitting in a Baja Fresh with my friends, talking about ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Spider-Man.’ I was just a different breed of guy. I just grew up in a different time, so that was what was in my head. It felt like an easy hook to say our grandfathers did this, our fathers did this and we play ‘Call of Duty’ on the PS3. We’re just a different breed of guy.”
So, is this a commentary on the modern man? Moynihan says no. “I’ve gotten a lot of questions about am I trying to make some sort of social commentary about the modern man, and the fact that no one is a real man anymore,” he says. “The fact is, there are plenty of real men out there. Men that are tougher than my grandfather. Men who are literally fighting in Afghanistan, and they’re police officers and firefighters all over the country. I’ve been watching a documentary on rebuilding the World Trade Center. Those are real men. They’re working iron and steal. They’re still out there. You’re just not going to see them on our show.”
Moynihan also gave us the scoop on man crushes, something that features heavily in early episodes. “We talk about it in this episode … when Will [Mather Zickel] meets Grant [Henry Simmons], and Grant is all of these things that he’s not. He’s cool and he’s tall … Henry Simmons, by the way, is that guy. He’s the nicest, most articulate, wonderful and sensitive guy you’ve ever met. He just happens to look like an action figure. I think that’s what gets Will excited about him. And I think guys do that. You meet a guy that has an inherently cooler life than you, or an inherently cooler gig than you have … I think it’s a tale as old as time,” he laughs.
We also got a tease about what’s coming up. “[In Tuesday’s episode] we reveal that Kenny has not had sex since his divorce from Brenda [Amanda Detmer], and then we reveal even further that he’s never had sex with anyone but Brenda,” he says. “So we have to get Kenny back out in the field and it’s really fun. We go to a singles bar and start wing-manning for each other … it’s a fun episode.
“And a really exciting thing if you’re a ‘Star Wars’ fan. Billy Dee Williams is in episode 7 where he plays himself. We have him doing his famous opening line from ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ ‘You’ve got a lot of nerve coming here after what you pulled.'”
“Man Up!” airs Tuesday nights at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.