Exploring the Crisis of Masculinity through Shakespearean Techniques and the Odd Couple Trope in “Bottom”


“Bottom,” a British sitcom, stands out for its absurd humor, its examination of the crisis of masculinity, and its clevr use of Shakespearean techniques.

The Shakespearean Connection

The show cleverly takes its name from Shakespeare’s character Bottom, a weaver with dreams of stardom. Similarly, Richie and Eddie, two ordinary men in “Bottom,” harbor aspirations for greatness but are destined for failure.

The Odd Couple Trope

“Bottom” effectively employs the “odd couple” trope, where two vastly different individuals find themselves sharing living quarters. Richie, the ambitious one, and Eddie, the more easygoing counterpart, create a dynamic that fuels the show’s humor. However, it also delves into the complexities of male friendship and the intricacies of masculinity.

The Use of Humor

The comedy in “Bottom” thrives on the characters’ numerous missteps and follies. Richie and Eddie constantly find themselves in absurd situations. This humor, though lighthearted, serves as a poignant reminder of life’s absurdity and the often futile nature of human endeavors.

The Use of Shakespearean Techniques

Another layer of complexity emerges from the show’s use of Shakespearean techniques, such as soliloquies. In a humorous twist, Richie delivers a soliloquy from a balcony reminiscent of Juliet’s iconic moment. This scene both satirizes traditional Shakespearean soliloquies and highlights Richie’s own insecurities about his masculinity.

Exploring the Crisis of Masculinity

Beyond its Shakespearean elements and the “odd couple” dynamic, “Bottom” delves into the crisis of masculinity through various means:

  • Physical Comedy: Physical shortcomings are exaggerated to emphasize the characters’ flaws.
  • Absurdist Humor: Traditional concepts of masculinity are challenged through humor.
  • Metafiction: The nature of reality is explored in a self-aware manner.
  • Portrayal of Failures: Richie and Eddie’s inability to attain traditional masculine ideals, including sexual success, employment, wealth, power, and control, serves as a commentary on societal expectations placed on men.

This portrayal of men as failures resonates with the broader field of masculinity studies, which scrutinizes the pressures on men to conform to traditional gender roles. Shakespeare’s plays, such as “Hamlet” and “Macbeth,” similarly feature characters struggling with these expectations. Other sitcoms like “Porridge,” “I’m Alan Partridge,” and “Game On” also feature protagonists attempting to find their place in an evolving world.

The depiction of men as failures in these works reflects the shifting landscape of masculinity. While the past demanded strength, success, and control from men, contemporary society blurs these once-clear expectations. Men are increasingly confronting their insecurities and vulnerabilities, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy.

“Bottom” provides a humorous yet thought-provoking perspective on these shifting norms. It humorously exaggerates characters’ flaws and shortcomings, while also prompting reflection on societal expectations of men. The show suggests that it is acceptable for men to be imperfect and to falter, ultimately conveying the message that happiness and fulfillment can be achieved without adhering strictly to traditional gender roles.


“Bottom” emerges as a multifaceted and thought-provoking show, offering a unique lens through which to view the crisis of masculinity. Its blend of humor and insight continues to captivate audiences, making it a timeless and relevant piece of television.

Related Blog Posts