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Macho Disaster Expedition

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A group of male characters are set to go on some stereotypically male-oriented activity like hiking in the Wild Wilderness, whitewater rafting or rock climbing. A group of females ask to join them and are rebuffed with sexist arrogance on how they would be helpless during the arduous, challenging "manly" activity. Insulted, the female characters go off on their own.

As it turns out, the male characters turn out to be incompetent in taking care of themselves in the activity while the female characters, who have taken the time to learn how to do the same activity properly, operate as if they had done it all their lives—or, at least, are able to pitch a tent and catch a fish without maiming themselves or setting their station wagon on fire.

Eventually, the male characters find themselves in terrible danger and the female characters have to rescue them.

In the end, the male characters learn their lesson and become humble and apologetic and both groups finish the activity together in relative harmony.

A variant just eschews the female characters altogether and shows the male characters failing miserably. Another variant has multiple female characters, who all go on a separate trip after being rejected, and are shown having a good time while the males fail miserably.

This type of plot is largely outdated, due to the inherent sexist nature of it against both men and women. The trope implies that men are all stubborn, misogynistic jackasses who are hopelessly incompetent, while also implying that women are better than men at keeping house and cooking, even if it's in the middle of the wilderness.

A subtrope of Don't Go in the Woods and Women Are Wiser. Horrible Camping Trip is this trope without the Anvilicious rebuff of male sexism. This trope is a classic example of "good discrimination" in action. If this scenario turns into a full-fledged competition, see Girls vs. Boys Plot.

See Cosmetic Catastrophe for the female version of this trope, and Men Can't Keep House for the indoors equivalent.


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    Comic Strips 
  • One FoxTrot arc saw Roger take Peter and Jason on a male bonding camping trip, which went as badly as all the previous camping trips the family went on. Jason and Peter actually lampshaded the sexist nature of the plot line, though they claimed it was sexist against them, because they wanted to be left out of the trip as well; Paige and Andy didn't mind, and Andy was actually the one to suggest it (Roger cannot be made to understand no one likes going camping).

    Films — Animated 
  • Inverted in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. The girls have a terrible time of it because of Peppermint Patty's less-than-brilliant leadership skills and because they insist on voting for everything. Meanwhile-, Charlie Brown (for once) gets to be the "winner" by demonstrating good leadership and planning skills. In one scene, Chuck breaks out the canned rations and Patty grumbles about the quality of the food and how she wants pancakes for breakfast, causing Charlie to chew her out for how unrealistic that is.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Wrong Guys is about a group of former Cub Scouts who suffered humiliating failure as kids when they tried to camp on Mt. Whitehead, lost their supply pack, and wound up having to call their moms for help. 25 years later the now adult Scouts hold a reunion and return to the mountain. However, an escaped fugitive is also hiding out on Whitehead, mistakes them for the FBI, and begins hunting them. As they flee, the Scouts come across their long lost pack, make use of its supplies to aid their escape, and get a second chance at conquering the mountain. Still wind up having to call their moms, though.

  • Non-comedy, but parodic, example in House of Leaves: a very macho expedition sets off to explore the depths of the House, and comes to grief, including one of its members shooting at the others.
  • A non-gender-based variant occurs in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. When the Golgafrinchans' B-Ark crash-lands on another planet, their attempts at survival tend to fail hilariously. Meanwhile, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, who were stowaways stuck on the ship, quickly become exasperated, wander off on their own, and fare much better.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Home Improvement:
    • In one episode, a team of guys (a bunch of football players and Tim) thinks that they can construct a house better and faster than a team of women (plus Wilson and Al). Al outsmarts them by hiring women who were professional construction workers.
    • There was another episode where Jill and Tim visit an army base and are allowed to have a quick race using a pair of tanks. Naturally, Jill beats the pants off Tim, who can barely get his tank pointed in the right direction, but the difference in skill makes perfect sense when you remember Jill is a Military Brat.
  • Subverted on an episode of Friends. The guys play poker. The girls want in. The guys imply they wouldn't be any good at it, and the girls call them sexist and challenge them to a serious poker game. Of course, never having played before tends to be a disadvantage no matter what gender you are, so the guys easily beat them and take all their money.
    • Further played with later in the episode after the girls get advice from an experienced female poker player. After their one lesson, the girls are still not as good as the more experienced guys.
  • Happened in one episode of Dinosaurs: the guys go on a hunting trip and end up hopelessly lost. They are rescued by the females, who had spent the day doing typical male activities (watching sports, drinking beer, etc.), resulting in something of a gender reversal.
  • The girls of The Partridge Family went out camping and the guys followed them. The girls handled themselves pretty well and the guys ended up starving.
  • Toyed with in the Gene Simmons Family Jewels episode "Alpha Male". Sophie got her family to go camping. Gene was convinced that as the alpha male, he can provide the food but he got squeamish when baiting a fishing hook. On the other hand, Shannon could clean fish and had actually explained to a stunned Nick how to decapitate a chicken by swinging it around by the head and then how to get the feathers off.
  • Done in I Love Lucy as well. Ricky wants to go camping by himself, but Lucy demands to come with, so he figures he'll go on a really hellish, miserable experience to make her sorry she came. Lucy overhears this and, with help from Ethel, decides to cheat and beat him at every camping activity. Like when they arrive, they decide to race to the campsite, each taking different paths. While Ricky runs and rushes to beat her, Lucy waits 'til he's out of sight and just has Ethel drive her. Naturally, Lucy being Lucy, she gets caught in the end.
  • A variation on Parks and Recreation, where the boys' misery was due not to incompetence, but instead to Ron Swanson's "misery builds character" attitude. The girls on the other hand were having fun, but it was because Leslie was giving them candy and arts and crafts projects instead of teaching them actual wilderness survival skills. The resolution sees not one, but two co-ed groups; the have-fun one Leslie Knope started, and a more rough-and-hearty one she founds in Ron's name after his kids all jump ship.
  • A variation on The Brady Bunch. The family goes camping. The girls are well-prepared with store-bought food, which comes in handy when the boys fail to catch any fish. However, it's partially the girls' fault that the boys couldn't catch any fish.
  • Subverted in the third season of the Dutch/Belgian version of Survivor. The tribes were divided by gender, the male tribe divided the workload equally and worked together in building shelter as well as finding and preparing food. The female tribe completely fell apart due to lack of leadership, even losing their rice rations when they forgot to properly store them during a rainstorm. The male tribe won the first two challenges by a country mile before the producers reassigned the contestants.
  • Matt and Mr. McGuire had this in one episode of Lizzie McGuire.
  • Nick on New Girl tries to reassert his manhood by spending Thanksgiving in the forest like the Pilgrims did, the men hunting while the women gather. Hunting only gets Schmidt hurt by his own squirrel trap while Nick manages to get one fish that was already dead and rotting. The women fare better, but only because they cheated and went shopping at a nearby grocery store. The day ends with Jess wandering delirious after eating from Nick's fish and then she and Nick fall into one of the guy's bear traps, then Cece saves them by making a rope from the other guys' pants.
  • In Noah and Saskia, Noah's macho father forces his sons (and nephew) to join him on a camping trip, believing it will be good 'male bonding' time. No one else agrees, so naturally, the trip is a complete disaster.
    Noah: (about their campsite) Nice smooth patch of ground, far away from any trees...turned out to be a riverbed. 'Course, it was dry for 11 months of the year. Guess which month we went?
  • The Thundermans: One such expedition happens completely offscreen. The male half of the family gear up for a manly camping trip, followed by a Smash Cut to dragging themselves back home saying "We barely survived!" They spend the rest of the episode hiding from the female half of the family, pretending to still be on their camping trip.

    Web Comics 
  • Once in Nodwick, Artax suggested to Yeagar and Nodwick that they go camping "suicidally rugged" style. It turned out he had inhaled some Storm Giant testosterone while mixing potions, but by then they were hopelessly lost. Fortunately, Piffany enlisted the forest critters to help find them.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In one episode Hugh takes the boys on a camping trip while Judy and Goddard stay home. Jimmy brings along a high-tech self-assembling campsite with a holographic butler, which Hugh accidentally blows up while trying to shut it down. Resulting in them almost getting eaten by a bear before Judy and Goddard rescue them.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Season 1's "The Call of the Simpsons" sent the family camping. Lisa and Marge successfully build their own campfire and turn their camping site into something downright paradisiacal (they even lampshade that —even if they knew absolutely nothing about camping— had it easily made once they finally cleaned up the place). Maggie got lost and found by grizzly bears, but they turned out to be of the 'kind' type and carried her to civilization. Homer and Bart look for help, but they end up cold and naked with the former ultimately mistaken for Bigfoot.
    • Later on, in Season 8's "Homer's Phobia", Homer gets increasingly worried that Bart is going to become a homosexual like the campy kitsch antique store owner John that he and the guys try to make sure Bart will still be a macho kid. Homer's attempts all end up in failure and culminate in a hunting trip that flops completely due to all the deer having left Springfield due to the city replacing all the grass in the woods with artificial turf.
  • Female-less version: Hey Arnold!, "Fishing Trip." where Gerald, Sid, Herald, Eugene, their dads, Arnold, and Grandpa Phil go into the woods for some real camping while dismissing the resort across the lake. However, they fail to catch any fish, lose all their provisions to a bear, except for cans of beans which cause them to fart non-stop during the night, until finally they admit to each other that they can't take it anymore. They end up going to the resort for some not-so-traditional camping (and Davy Jones).
    • Ultimately subverted in "Roughin' It"—Grandpa takes Arnold and Gerald camping, and spends so much time with the hard work and survival rules that the two are miserable. Meanwhile, Helga and Phoebe (plus Helga's dad, Bob) are camping nearby with a huge RV and other high-tech equipment. Of course, the point is that they're not "camping" in any meaningful sense, and ultimately Grandpa's lessons save the day when Bob's gizmos all break during a hike.
  • The Proud Family did this with a camping trip in the surprisingly named episode "Camping Trip." Not only do the ladies one-up the guys, but the kids do too.
  • In an episode of Maxie's World, it's played just about to the t besides that the girls use such things as cosmetics or small electric appliances to help. Then, at the end where an attempt to scare the girls with a fake bear is spoiled when a real bear appears and the boys and girls fend it off and both admit their mistakes.
  • An episode of The Flintstones that also featured a Bewitched Crossover. The men go camping and the women tag along with their new neighbour (who happens to be a witch). Fred and Barney constantly mock Wilma and Betty for coming, but the witch Samantha makes sure that they survive out there with her magic, all the while punishing the guys for their misogyny. This becomes less "don't mess with women, guys" and more "don't mess with MAGICAL women, guys!" Samantha's attempts to make sure the women stay ahead and punishing the boys for attempting to cheat their way in front elevate from "Laser-Guided Karma" to "being a bitch for being a bitch's sake".
  • Subverted in the Fairly OddParents episode "Squirrely Puffs" where Timmy's dad leads a camping trip for the Boy Scouts expy, the Squirrely Scouts, while Timmy's Mom leads the Girl Scout expy, the Creampuffs. The trip goes about how you'd expect, with the boys having a miserable time, and the girls easily thriving in the woods, to the point where they are joined by singing woodland creatures. It is then subverted when the Creampuffs end up being trapped by a storm, and the animals refuse to stop singing, not to mention weaving poisonous berries into their hair, while the boys' practical wilderness survival training helps them rescue them and thrive in the woods.
  • In the episode "Lewis and Clark and Larry" from Time Squad, this trope comes into play when the famed explorer team split up, in a way that is deliberately played like a relationship split. Larry ends up going with Lewis, and their exploration trip is a breeze, while Tudrussel and Otto, who go with Clark, goes through a nightmarish death march of a trip, including getting lost because none of them know how to read a map, almost starving to death and being chased by a bear.
  • Another female-less version in Kick Buttowski between the titular character and his older brother, Brad. Tagging along with Kick to "protect him" in the wilderness, Brad falls victim to a number of poor choices (such as sleeping with a blanket made of poison ivy) since he believes himself to be better than Kick... Kick, of course, manages to conquer the wilderness the moment he enters it.
  • The Get Along Gang: The boys went camping and wouldn't bring the girls with them. It ended as suggested at the top page.
  • The Legend of Korra has "The Calling" where Meelo tries to make his and his sister's search for Korra more badass and turns it into this. First, he tries to turn down bringing food at all, and later throws the food away stating that they can hunt. Ikki then reminds him that they are vegetarians. He then goes foraging and only finds some bad berries that make him and his lemur ill.
    • Notably, in this case, the distinction is less about their respective genders and more about the fact that Meelo is a eight-year-old who has been given a little bit too much rope.
  • The Sonic Boom episode "Into the Wilderness" has one of these, with Amy and Sonic wagering that whichever team gets to their destination in Hidden Meadows last gets to do the winning team's laundry for a month. What differentiates this from the norm is that one of the characters (the female badger Sticks) was already characterized as specializing in wilderness survival, someone Amy planned on studying under anyway, which innately leaves the contest skewed in the girls' favor, let alone that Sonic is paired with Knuckles. This is also a rare Sonic episode where the Blue Blur should have just kept his big mouth shut.
  • Zeke's Pad: In "Picture of Paradise", When he finds out she is on her way to a summer camp for a week, Zeke tries to impress Maxine by saying he's really into camping too. Jay scoffs at Zeke's bravado and Zeke scoffs back at Jay – "don't worry, I've got my Pad." In fact, Zeke draws himself, Jay, and the family in the campground next to Maxine's "girls camp" in order to use the opportunity to impress her more. After several bumbling attempts to show Max his camping know-how go awry, Zeke drags Jay along to follow Maxine in a wilderness walk, with a plan to help her out when she gets lost. Unfortunately, it is Zeke and Jay who get lost and not even the Pad's GPS can help them.


Video Example(s):


"We barely survived!"

The male half of the Thundermans go on a camping trip to prove the female half wrong about their survival skills. One Smash Cut later, it turns out the girls were right, not that the boys are willing to let them know that.

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Main / MachoDisasterExpedition

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