Margaret Lyons has a nice appreciation of what she’s calling TV’s new crop of “sweatshirt boyfriends,” the laid-back guys who are populating a wide range of shows:
Despite their relaxed attitude toward personal grooming, sweatshirt boyfriends aren’t necessarily Apatowian man-children — Jack (Nick Wechsler) on Revenge owns his own bar and takes care of his annoying teenage brother, Pete (David Walton) on Bent is a successful enough contractor, Chris (Chris D’Elia) on Whitney is an entrepreneur, and Joe (Luka Jones) on Best Friends Forever is a video game designer. Pete (Mark Duplass) on The League just seems sort of low energy, more depressed than inept, while Nick (Jake M. Johnson) on New Girl and Max (Adam Palley) on Happy Endings fall more in the goofy-slacker camp, though both have started confronting their fears of adulthood, Nick by finally seeing a doctor and Max by learning to enjoy frittatas. Did you know those are like egg pizzas? The newest edition to the SBC (that’s the sweatshirt boyfriend club) is Best Friends Forever’s Joe.
What she doesn’t mention, and what I think is somewhat important about this development, is that this subset of characters contain a fair number of guys who work blue-collar jobs. Sure, there are the video game designers and Whitney’s tech millionaire. But Jack and Nick are bartenders, Pete is a contractor, and Max drives a limo. There are disconnects between these characters jobs and their lifestyles, of course, from the palatial apartment on New Girl to the Chicago loft on Happy Endings—television has a hard time with the visuals of limited incomes, even when they’re acknowledging that people have job titles other than banker or party planner. But it is, frankly, nice to see characters of different incomes be friends, date, occasionally deal with the fact that they’re at different places in their careers and at different levels of financial security, given that’s the way that actual people conduct their actual lives.