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Tuning in to ‘today’s modern man’

As if the ESPN lineup and the Oprah Winfrey Network aren’t already doing enough to send men and women fleeing to separate viewing rooms, there’s a new gender-specific channel on the television horizon.

This one is to be called the Esquire Network and its target audience is “the modern man … what being a man today is all about.” When it debuts next month, a spokesman promises, it will include programming on “entertainment, food, fashion, women, humor, travel, competition, danger and more.”

While those topics already would seem to be pretty well covered by the 20,000 or so channels currently available, I may tune in — if only to discover what a modern man is all about. And, more importantly, whether I am one.

According to the Esquire Network’s general manager, “today’s modern man” is “upscale, engaged, passionate.”

But that’s not really much help.

I’d like to think I’m more upscale than downscale, but then I see programs about people shopping for $100,000 cars and multimillion dollar homes, which makes me suspect I’m no more than middlescale.

“Engaged” is a nebulous word. Engaged how? In a criminal conspiracy? To be married? I’m definitely not engaged in either of those.

Which leaves “passionate.” I’ll admit I may not be as passionate about things as I used to be, especially if it means staying awake past 10 p.m.

But even if I had all those traits, I’m not sure what good this new network is going to do for me. It just seems like one more wedge between modern man and modern woman.

At our house, for instance, prime time generally turns into alone time.

There are a few shows we’re willing to watch together. “Dancing With the Stars,” for instance. Some people might consider it to be a woman’s program, but my feeling is that enjoying beautiful females doing the samba in revealing clothing makes me every bit as manly as watching guys in baseball caps playing poker. Maybe even more so.

Generally, though, my wife and I spend our evenings in front of separate televisions.

“If you’re going to spend all evening watching sports, I’m going to watch something in the other room,” she’ll say after just a few hours of basketball.

Which is just as well, because I would rather stick hot needles dipped in sulfuric acid into my eyes than sit with her through an episode of “The Bachelor” or any program that includes the phrase “real housewives.”

So instead of a network that helps him become upscale, engaged and passionate, maybe what today’s modern man really needs is more programs that encourage him to spend evenings in the same room with today’s modern woman.

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