Despite male “titans” sitting on the top of the media empires, Hollywood isn’t quite the boy’s club we envision. The middle tiers of networks have a number of women in fairly powerful positions. Several network heads of comedy development are women. The issue, however, isn’t so mars-venus. 1) Middle-tier executives with TV networks are, by and large, risk averse and not creative. And 2) dumb guys test well.
Sticking to the middle-of-the-fairway makes it a lot harder to be fired when something doesn’t work. At some point, the inept man (which can be an incredible character: see Homer Simpson) became a central character because he was likable in a forgettable and non-threatening way. This was probably around the time that getting hit in the balls became a LOL punchline. Focus groups have some blame in this. If you’re living in LA and have nothing to do to the point that you’ll go burn an hour of your time for a few slices of pizza, you get to help decide (to some degree) what goes on TV. In small doses, dumb, physically awkward and disconnected from reality are funny. As the premise for a central character, it’s a bridge too far. Maybe they have been trying to replicate the Home Improvement experience ever since it ended. Then again, maybe the sitcom medium hasn’t really changed much. Were Ralph Cramden or Archie Bunker men that we wanted to be/be with? The good news is that drama seems to do a better job. The male characters in the incredibly popular House, The Mentalist, the Law & Order, NCIS franchises, etc. feature incredibly capable but also incredibly flawed men. It would be great if there more characters like Jack Donaghy or Jeff Winger in sit-coms… but I guess not enough people watch 30 Rock and Community, respectively, for that to be much of an option. Maybe we get the TV we deserve.