The XX Factor

A Big Penis Is the Path to Redemption

MTV has a new scripted show set to debut after the MTV Movie Awards next month, and it’s about an unpopular high schooler with an abnormally large penis who gets a shot at the girl of his dreams once everyone learns about his asset. It’s called The Hard Times of RJ Berger , and Vulture terms it the “teenage version of Hung “-the HBO show about an unemployed man with an abnormally large penis who becomes an escort in order to support his family. While superficially the Hung comparison seems accurate, beyond the bulging similarity (sorry), there are fairly notable differences.

As Willa Paskin noted in a DoubleX piece from last summer , Hung is a “serious drama about male anxiety” in which the protagonist Ray Drecker’s only asset-literally, he is homeless and living in a tent-is his package. From the looks of the RJ Berger trailer (embedded below), the main character’s large penis is pretty exclusively a comic device, and his anxiety is not so much male as it is teen: He wants popular people to like him and he wants to nab the prettiest girl in school. As RJ Berger co-creator told the L.A. Times earlier this year, “It’s just a noisy way to do a story about growing up.” Still, it’s worth noting that the notion of a large penis leading to redemption is lurking behind both of these television shows. What does that say about the state of American masculinity?