Bravo, home of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "Boy Meets Boy," follows those two seminal works of gay reality TV with "Manhunt: The Search for America's Most Gorgeous Male Model." Curiously, this latest exercise in male exhibitionism has been constructed more as an antidote than a follow-up to its older siblings. Thirty years after pop culture taught us "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche," we now learn they do use a ton of hair gel.
Bravo, home of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Boy Meets Boy,” follows those two seminal works of gay reality TV with “Manhunt: The Search for America’s Most Gorgeous Male Model.” Curiously, this latest exercise in male exhibitionism has been constructed more as an antidote than a follow-up to its older siblings. Thirty years after pop culture taught us “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche,” we now learn they do use a ton of hair gel.
As anyone who has watched the Dapper Don’s grandsons on “Growing Up Gotti” knows, the chronic overuse of hair products has reached pandemic proportions among today’s young men. As evidenced on “Manhunt,” the most serious side effect of OD-ing on gel and mousse is that hair no longer grows between the Adam’s apple and the navel. It also causes the afflicted to restrict their conversations on camera to the topics of girlfriends, wives, children and violent sports.
“Manhunt” follows the “America’s Top Model” format, and most of the guys think they’re really, really good-looking enough to wear Calvin Klein’s latest line of thongs. No one is terribly bashful about gelling up or stripping down on moment’s notice. “Since I took a breath on this earth, I knew I wanted to be a male model,” says Hunter.
Special congrats to the casting directors who found the blond, studly Brett, whose resume includes stints as an air force pilot, Mormon priest, Chippendale’s dancer and, at present, Las Vegas real estate agent.
But for any model show, the real challenge is to come up with the next Tyra Banks. For “Manhunt,” the producers have rescued Carmen Elektra from a certain exile in the next “Surreal World” and made her the hostess. The gig involves posing with the guys and calling out their names when they get the hook. The best that can be said for Carmen’s performance is that her chest is bigger, if somewhat less exposed, than those of some of the guys.
Some of the finest moments in reality TV belong to the delightfully craven Banks, who never fails to deliver that slow-eyed stare to inform the troops, “You must want to be America’s Next Top Model more than your grandmother’s life support system itself.” Or something to that effect.
Astonishingly, “Manhunt” may have found their Tyra Banks in aging male model Bruce Hulce. Once upon a time, he was known as the Calvin Klein Man, but in more recent years, has developed a slight overbite problem. While Carmen plays photo-op hostess, it is Bruce (“married with kids”) who whips the guys into shape in pure boot-camp fashion.
He asks 16 guys stranded in the desert to dress down to their scivvies (“Do it! Strip Down! Now!”), and belittles their bodies. When Bruce throws a box of Calvin Klein boxers at a guy, he knows to respond, “Good catch!” When Bruce asks a guy to look seductive, he knows to mock, “You like the cameraman over there?” When Bruce orders his models to sky-dive in nothing but their Calvins, he says, “Models must be team players!” When he orders them out of bed at 2 a.m. for an impromptu photo session, he says, “Because models must always be prepared!”