Glennd of the Road: Bromans Episode 6
This week’s episode began with a condescending voice-over that was meant to comically juxtapose the ‘masculinity’ of the TV competition against a video of the Broman men applying make-up. However, make-up was worn by at least one of Rome’s greatest generals, and possibly one other. Julius Caesar painted his face red in order to suggest that he was the Earthly embodiment of Jupiter during oned of his Triumphs; there were also rumours that Mark Antony wore manscara after living in Egypt for a few years. Importantly, we know what happened to both of those ‘great men’, so perhaps it isn’t advisable for our Bromans to be following in the footsteps of these Roman trend-setters.
History was at the forefront of this week’s episode when the Bromans were asked to complete a ‘laundry’ task that used their own urine as a detergent. The programme was so proud of its attention to detail that the voiceover actually pointed out the task’s ‘historical accuracy’ – the Romans did indeed have a method of laundry that used urine. Well played Bromans!
Another piece of 'historical accuracy' was presented to us in the event that blindfolded the Bromans. Gladiators were actually blindfolded at times in ancient Rome and these ‘blind’ gladiators had a name – Andabata. There is even a written record of them in one of Cicero’s letters.
The final historical detail was a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ masterstroke – and I think that it reveals that Bromans is not actually set in Rome! During Dino’s and Charelle’s intimate meal (a prize for winning the wee-wee wash competition) I caught sight of a mosaic that contained the word ‘Baiae’. Baiae was a place near Naples known for hedonism and excess in Ancient Rome, beloved by emperors. It was also the sight of Caligula’s famous rebuke to Thrasyllus’s prediction that Caligula had "no more chance of becoming emperor than of riding a horse across the Gulf of Baiae". Caligula promptly had a 3-mile pontoon built out of ships that stretched from Baiae to the port of Puteoli – which he rode across on a horse! And then he became Emperor. Such wild shows of excess are echoed throughout Bromans (particularly in the use of hair products).
However, it was particularly difficult this week to witness the disintegration of the core-friendship groups. I was reminded of my childhood and how distressed I felt watching the emergence of hostilities between Mark Antony and Augustus in HBO’s Rome. I really wanted them to get on as friends - they seemed like such a good match. If I’d known my history at the time, I’d have remembered that their relationship wouldn’t last and I would have been spared the heartache and trauma of the Battle of Actium. By watching Bromans, I once again I find myself involved in several Roman bromances flailing before my eyes, and once again I don’t know what is going to happen. The tension is intense.
Finally, Glenn was eliminated this week after failing to build his own ‘impossible pontoon’ to the Emperor’s Games. His sage one-liners will be missed. His insightful innocence was often able to sum up Ancient Rome’s complex (and not always pleasant) history in a simple bon mot. When he said this week, “Romans are disgusting”, it’s hard to disagree that, in regards to some aspects of Roman history, he had a point.