“I was known as the fat kid from ‘Stand By Me.’ Now I’m the Speedo Guy,” Jerry O’Connell quipped about his new CBS series “We Are Men” during press tour. That so many of the questions had to do with O’Connell’s wardrobe of tiny swimsuits on the show might have been an attempt to balance the amount of testosterone on the show, which stars and producers were quick to defend as a sweet bromance and not a woman-hating group sulk.
“A number of years ago I was divorced… I was all over the map, I was a mess. I was dating again without a clue, and part of me wanted to get back together and part of me wanted to have fun and have a lot of sex. This series is all about these guys who’ve crashed and burned and want to go out and find love,” creator and executive producer Rob Greenberg explained, before promising, “They’ll have a lot of sex.”
But sex isn’t the primary focus of the show, which follows a group of recently single guys (played by Jerry O’Connell, Kal Penn, Tony Shalhoub and Chris Smith) who become friends while living in the same apartment building. “Kal and Tony [‘s characters] are single dads,” Greenberg continued, explaining that the “band of brothers” will also interact with parents, siblings and work. “We follow these men in all aspects of their life.”
Then, it was time to get to the business of O’Connell’s tiny wardrobe. “It was not in the original script, so it was a little bit of a surprise [to find the Speedos]… it’s probably the most nerve wracking part of this job… It’s a little chilly in the morning.”
Given that the series has shot several episodes and the Speedo does not seem to be going away, O’Connell shrugged, “It’s something I have to embrace. I’ve joined a gym, I’ve started drinking light beer… I’ve counted four different colors so far. I have a feeling we’ll hit every color in the spectrum. I don’t know how guys like Michael Phelps do it all the time.”
The question of whether or not the show isn’t vaguely misogynistic in its depiction of women was quickly dismissed by the panel. “These guys are inherently extremely vulnerable at the end of the day… I loved the show because every episode ends with a lot of sweetness.”
“I think it’s interesting you see all this men’s anger,” Shalhoub added. “Their anger is at themselves, really, and that gets misdirected at their various exes. It’s these guys coming to grips with where the real problems lie. That will be one of the arcs.”
The men also shared the best post-break-up advice they’d ever received. “The best advice I got was, what the hell’s the matter with you, you screwed up, you’re an idiot,” Shalhoub said, while O’Connell imitated the mocking crying noise his friends made.
After Smith assured the audience that “there’s a ton of appeal for women,” he added, “We’ve got a couple wounded puppies up here. I think there’s also the camaraderie, we’re people looking out for each other. That’s the sweetness Kal alluded to earlier.”
Finally, it was time for more questions for Speedo Guy. Did his wife, Rebecca Romjin, give him some advice on being Speedo-ready? “I got advice from my wife… I went to a tanning salon, which was something I’d never done. The first time it did not work out very well. You go into the beds and the light comes on, so I put the glasses on immediately, but I still had my socks on. One was stuck to me when I was in the bed… so I had to go a second time. Her advice was get a tan, do some pushups and maybe do some Pilates.”