Daily Show takes on "Male Inequality"

Was Samantha Bee's send-up of male support groups scathing social satire or more like a series of cheap shots?

Published February 4, 2010 3:05PM (EST)

Last night on "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart took on a topic that’s been much in the news lately: the increase of high-earning women in the workforce and their threat, or perceived threat, to red-blooded American males. "As a country we’ve made enormous strides,” Stewart warned, "but there are still groups that are suffering…men." In the segment that followed, Samantha Bee dove into the world of male support groups -- "disenfranchised men [who] gather in the woods where they play games no one liked in P.E. class and complain about their wives" -- with all her characteristic deadpanning and eye-rolling.

Bee’s delivery was sharp and funny for the most part, and the video has a couple of great moments -- like the beginning montage of supposed emblems of masculinity that includes Mel Gibson in "Braveheart," Moses, and two, count 'em, two, pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Mr. Universe phase. But at a time when "The Daily Show" has matured from facile fish-in-a-barrel comedy to cutting political and social satire (when even Bill O'Reilly seeks Jon Stewart's approval), is yelling at a bunch of nutters in the woods to "sac up" really laugh-out-loud comedy or more like stealing a big sack of lollipops from a nursery school? The state of masculinity in today's society is actually pretty fascinating and complex, not that you'd know it from the wacky guys that Bee interviews. Then again, sometimes fish in a barrel are just asking to be shot.

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By Margaret Eby

Margaret Eby has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Salon and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in New York City.

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