Men Behaving Badly is a classic Brit Com written by Simon Nye, very loosely adapted from a not-particularly-successful novel he wrote in the late 80s. The main cast consists of Martin Clunes as Gary, Caroline Quentin as his girlfriend Dorothy and Leslie Ash as Deborah, who lives in the flat above; the first season had Harry Enfield playing Gary's flatmate Dermot, while all the subsequent ones replaced him with Neil Morrissey as Tony. It's generally acknowledged that this second season was the moment when the show grew its beard. There are several reasons for this - Tony was a more interesting character than Dermot and there was better chemistry between him and Gary; the show moved from ITV to BBC1 and the lack of adverts meant that Nye had a few more minutes to play with, and it hit a moment of zeitgeist as the late 80s/early 90s New Man was being brushed aside by a resurgence of laddish masculinity.
Along with Have I Got News for You, it is probably the single most-referenced show title for British newspaper headline writers and has been shamelessly ripped off for the titles of countless documentaries. See The Joy of X for examples.
The show lasted six seasons, with a follow-up trilogy of three extra-long episodes, and a final reunion sketch (though without Leslie Ash or Caroline Quentin) on Channel 4 that was broadcast on the 24th October as part of "Feeling Nuts", a programme broadcast to raise awareness about testicular cancer.
Came sixteenth in Britain's Best Sitcom.
Men Behaving Badly provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The US version lasted roughly thirty seconds.
- All Men Are Perverts: Well, Gary and Tony without question but there are so many variations that they're worth mentioning too. Averted with minor characters like Ken and Les, inverted every so often with Deborah and Dorothy but the big inversion is with George; he and his wife, Marjorie, have a jar in which they must put 10p every time one of them has an unfaithful thought. In his several decades of marriage, George has only blown 50p while Marjorie has spent £2386.George: ...Sometimes I feel I should say something, but it has paid for three caravanning holidays.
- Beard of Barbarism: Tony returns with one after his trip around Europe.
- Beard of Evil: A variation, Tony grows a moustache as part of his transformation into a boring postman in the last episode, and shaves it off again at the end when he returns to normal.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Deborah wants Tony to be more mature and sensible, but when he makes an effort to do this in the final series she starts to miss the old Tony.
- Cardboard Pal:
- When Tony and Gary have fallen out, Gary makes a fake Tony out of a sex doll and Tony's clothes so they can continue having their lager-fuelled conversations on the sofa.
- In the reunion sketch for the 2014 testicular cancer awareness show "Feeling Nuts", Gary and Tony are both divorced and temporarily fill the void with cloth dummies that have Deborah and Dorothy's faces on them.
- Bedmate Reveal: Tony and Dorothy...
- The Casanova: Tony, until he falls for Deborah, having slept with fifty women and at one point having three girlfriends at once. Gary wants to be one, but is more of a Casanova Wannabe.
- Catchphrase: In the script book, Simon Nye grumbles that he was never able to come up with a good one, his attempts including Tony's "Sod you, then" and "I feel like a king".
- Celebrity Paradox: In one episode Tony mentions Quadrophenia, which starred Leslie Ash.
- Christmas Special: Interpolated Dorothy's idyllic-perfect-Christmas fantasy Imagine Spot with the grittier reality.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Ken. Simon Nye notes he was written as an over-promoted, incompetent Pointy-Haired Boss, but John Thompson played him as being borderline mentally ill.
- Companion Cube: In "Your Mate V Your Bird", when it looks like Gary will be left living alone in the flat, he temporarily fashions his own "Tony" out of a blow-up sex doll, with a string to make it drink beer.
- Continuity Nod: Quite a few in the Sofa episode, all of them in flashbacks. Gary having shorter hair, teenage Tony having longer hair, Gary wearing "the suit" on one of his three unsuccessful dates and Gary wearing his trousers on his head when meeting Dorothy for the first time.
- The Couch: Or rather sofa
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Played for laughs with Tony over Deborah. Gary also gets like this whenever Dorothy gets a new boyfriend.
- Directionless Driver: Gary navigating in "Cardigan".Gary: Hold on, this is a map of Dieppe!
- Dirty Coward: Gary in the thematically titled episode "Cowardice". After failing to stand up for Dorothy to a road-rager, he hires a company to send an actor to insult her in the bar and he can then pretend to beat up to regain his image. However, Hilarity Ensues when an actual thug corresponding to the description insults Dorothy and Gary manages to beat him up without realising he's not the actor.
- Dork in a Sweater: In one episode, the characters discuss how wearing a cardigan makes one seem tame and old.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Looking back, Dorothy was a chronic domestic abuser who often attacked Gary for little reason and to great applause from the audience. One of the more heinous examples was where she lured Gary in for a kiss only to grab him hard by the testicles; even though moments before she had been apologising to him (granted, she was apologising for a lie that Gary had gotten away with, but again, reverse the genders and see if that excuse sticks). Deborah also got a bit handy with Tony on occasion (again to much audience laughter) in a way that no man could get away with, although at least in her case Tony did spend most of the series as a creep who read her diaries, broke into her flat after bugging it, stealing her underwear and just generally begging her for sex after many, many no's. Even back in the 1990s this was unacceptable behaviour.
- Early Installment Weirdness: As the show becoming a hit coincided with Neil Morrissey joining the cast as Tony, it's odd to see Gary with a different flatmate, Dermot (played by Harry Enfield), in series 1.
- Embarrassing Nickname: In the last episode, all the postmen have nicknames — Tony's is "Nobby No-Mates". Another has one produced by a chain of logical connections:Tony: He's been bitten by so many dogs, they call him Costello.
Gary: Er... why?
Tony: Abbott and Costello. Russ Abbott. Russ. Jack Russell, little dog.
- Flanderization: Tony got stupider and more immature with every series.
- Foreign Remake: It's A Man's World, starring Rob Schneider.
- Friend Versus Lover: The central focus of the show. One episode uses it as the title - "Your Mate V Your Bird".
- Gilligan Cut: Averted due to Simon Nye disliking them, save for a single example in the episode The Good Pub Guide.
- The Ghost:
- Clive, "Gary's Only Other Friend". Often referred to, but never seen save for a brief glimpse in "Wedding" (where he's played by the writer Simon Nye in a cameo).
- Also, George's wife Marjorie.
- Hopeless Suitor: Tony to Deborah for most of the series. He's borderline Stalker with a Crush.
- Ho Yay:
- There always seemed to be something between Tony and Gary, for all they talked about girls. Word of God confirms it saying "Men Behaving Badly was about a same-sex relationship. Everyone latched on to the lad thing, but to me there was always a significant homoerotic content in the relationship between Gary and Tony. You always got the impression that they'd rather be left alone together, but that was something that they could never admit to themselves."
- When Gary is soon to be married (later called off):Tony: Gary... if I was a girl... with a girl's bottom and everything... would you marry me?
Gary: [stares at him for a moment in an awkward silence, then answers instantly] Course mate!
Tony: Cheers mate!
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Meta version — writer Simon Nye grumbled in the published script book that he inadvertently invented The Royle Family ahead of its time with the episode "Watching TV".
- Inherently Funny Words: Simon Nye thought this about words such as "shed" and "cheese", inserting them wherever he could. Also the names of the foreign beers in "The Good Pub Guide":Gary: What's this Indonesian one called?
Tony: Er... "Binky".
Gary: It's not as good as Sod, but it's better than that Russian one, what was it?
Tony: Er... "Plop".
- Jerkass: All of the main characters have their moments. Dorothy being the most prolific.
- Medium Awareness: In Sofa, Gary and Tony seem to be very aware of the flashbacks and knowingly trigger them by looking upwards towards the ceiling.
- Mistaken for Gay: In "Cowardice" Tony becomes convinced that Deborah and her new friend are lesbians.
- My Local: The Crown.
- Non Sequitur: One of the main sources of humour.[Gary and Tony have been discussing Dorothy's new boyfriend Jamie]
Tony: What a bastard!
Gary: Who, Jamie? Yeah!
Gary: My mate Clive? Yeah!
Tony: No - Tony Blackburn!
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Tony's brother, who moves into Gary's flat with his girlfriend for a week.
- Porn Stash: At least three separate episodes (and possibly more).
- Once in season 4 when Tony's girlfriend dumps him when she finds it. The episode is even called "Pornography".
- Once in the "Last Orders" trilogy where Gary and Dorothy are trying for a baby and Gary trying to overcome his impotence when trying to perform on demand is used as an excuse to "get a picture of the whole genre".
- In the last episode Dorothy, probably in a throwback to the season 4 episode, finds Tony's old stash. Then, in the absolutely last scene...Dorothy: [to her newborn baby] This is Tony... you're going to have his old room where he's had lots of adventures... most of them involving Razzle magazine!
- Seinfeldian Conversation: A lot of the sofa conversations at the end of the episode are like this.
- Sexy Whatever Outfit: Gary and Dorothy attempt this kind of roleplaying, but...Gary: I asked Dorothy to dress up as [sniggers] a nurse.
Tony: ...She is a nurse.
Gary: ...Yeah, it didn't work really. And she asked me to dress up as a farmer and come and rescue her.
Tony: ...Are you sure she didn't say "fireman"?
Gary: ...Yes, she did actually. Quite embarrassing really. I've still got the smock...
- Stalker with a Crush: Tony towards Deborah.
- Surrounded by Idiots:
- Gary towards George and Anthea.
- Dorothy towards Gary and Tony. And Deborah towards Gary and Tony. And ANYONE towards Gary and Tony.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
- Averted when Ken replaced Les as the landlord of the Crown; they devoted an episode to the shift, and Ken was written as a very different character.
- Tony himself is an aversion as the replacement for Dermot.
- Terrible Interviewees Montage: In the first episode of the second series, where Gary's looking for a new flatmate. The interviewees include an incomprehensible Geordie, a catatonic man (played by writer Simon Nye) and a seemingly normal man who turns out to have a disturbing fetish.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: As the series goes, Deborah seems to become increasing bitchy and occasionally plays cruel tricks on Tony. Dorothy, on the other hand seems to have Took a Level in Kindness
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Tony's even more lay about brother and his Dumb Blonde girlfriend Mandy, who drives Gary to distraction by using up all of all the water and frequently engaging in noisy sex.
- The Unfair Sex: Diminished in the later series but very frequent early on. One particular episode has Tony mending the fence in the back garden three times and Gary fetching something from the chemist to cure Dorothy's indigestion twice — in the middle of the night in their pyjamas — while the girls ignore their partners' devotion and sit on Deborah's bed to discuss how the prospect of marrying an elderly millionaire is looking more and more attractive.
- Unwanted Glasses Plot: Not only does Tony refuse to wear them, due to mockery from everyone else, but he has equally huge problems with contact lenses. In the end he simply decides to go without.
- Vulgar Humor: In the second installment of "Last Orders", the hotel is the... Groyne View.
- Waxing Lyrical: When Tony is persuading Gary he should get back together with Dorothy.Tony: She loves you, mate. And with a love like that, you know you should be glad.
- Weirdness Censor: Gary's office workers George and Anthea in the last episode. "No, I can't see that happening", constantly repeated when he tells them the office is closing down, in a faintly creepy, unthinking way.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: at one point, Tony tattoos the word Deb on his leg (It Makes Sense in Context). Said tattoo is depicted as painful and messy, and referred to as possibly becoming infected due to lack of aftercare. It is never seen or referred to again
- Your Cheating Heart: Gary and Dorothy cheat on each other a few times over the course of the series.