Lowe T(V): Directing masculinity in a new century | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1757-2681
  • E-ISSN: 1757-269X



Though a generally innocuous, if funny, series of advertisements, the recent set of Rob Lowe commercials for DIRECTV offers something else beyond the various selling points of a specific television service. The commercials, each of which portray regular Rob Lowe alongside an unfortunate alter ego (‘Scrawny Arms’, ‘Painfully Awkward’, ‘Overly Paranoid’, ‘Crazy Hairy’, ‘Total Deadbeat’, ‘Creepy’, ‘Peaked in High School’ and ‘Meathead’), provide a catalogue of twenty-first-century masculinities. By contrasting the regular Rob Lowe alongside his lesser iterations, the commercials cast a critical eye on traditional masculinity, calling into question both physical (‘Scrawny Arms’, ‘Crazy Hairy’ and ‘Meathead’) and behavioural (‘Painfully Awkward’, ‘Overly Paranoid’, ‘Total Deadbeat’, ‘Creepy’ and ‘Peaked in High School’) extremes. When read against the particulars of Lowe’s own experiences (as found in his 2011 autobiography Stories I Only Tell My Friends and its 2014 companion piece Love Life), in which he has either inhabited or encountered those alter egos throughout his life and career, the commercials suggest that twenty-first-century masculinities, in the person of Lowe, are expansive.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): autobiography; DIRECTV; hyperbolic masculinity; lack; performance; Rob Lowe
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