Something I always loved about Wings was the gender-play. While a lot of shows like to give you the occasional funny moment where, for example, two male roomates have a stereotypical husband-wife type conversation, Wings’ gender humor was based on the falsehoods of gender constructs. When you get right down to it, men and women aren’t that different – except in the ways we’ve been taught to be, starting with toy commercials.
Take the episode where Helen’s boyfriend rushes to Nantucket to apologize to her. She’s gone before he gets there, but the boyfriend finds Joe and listlessly gives him the flowers intended for Helen. Then he takes Joe out to dinner to discuss how to make up with Helen:
Joe: Man, this is great scotch. It must go for, what, $20 a bottle?
Davis: Try $20 a shot.
Joe: You know, if things don’t work out with Helen, I’ll date ya!
Davis: Well Joe I’ve given you flowers, bought you dinner and drinks. Technically, you are dating me.
Or the episode where Brian ends up love slave/servant to a very rich older woman (Tyne Daly). Midway through the episode, she has Brian and her dog dressing in cute little matching outfits. By the end, she has him groveling. As hilarious and silly as this episode is, it’s a little disturbing if you know Brian’s backstory, because he has serious issues with his mother abandoning him, and this situation echoes that. While women characters are frequently dissected for “daddy issues”, it’s not so often we see a womanizer like Brian literally brought to his knees by his mommy issues.
On a lighter note, there’s an episode where Antonio joins Helen and another woman (Alex or Casey – I can’t remember which) for what amounts to a slumber party. When someone ribs him about it later, he points out that he spent the night drinking with two beautiful women who massaged cosmetic products onto his face. Smart guy.
My personal favorite gender-play scene was one in which the guys were all sitting around discussing what celebrities they’d (supposedly) been told they looked like, and arguing about which man was most attractive to women. The deeper they got into it, the more they sounded like a bunch of women arguing about who was the most attractive man… until they finally noticed this, got uncomfortable and ended the discussion. The reason it’s my personal favorite? I saw it in real life once. A bunch of guys arguing over which cast-member from Tombstone women found sexiest. I kept trying to tell them my personal preference, but my opinion of what women like was deemed irrelevant. “He may be old, but that Sam Elliot is one attractive man,” said one of them. “Or, you know, so my wife says.”