HBO’s anti-television branding strategies are also gendered affairs. If TV and its viewers have been historically feminized – notions stereotypically associated with passive consumption, frivolous sentimentality, and the taint of the “popular” – then HBO promises subscribers a masculinizing experience, whatever that might imply. For pay cable purchasers that don’t want to imagine themselves as consumers and for a pay network that promises exclusivity and high-mindedness but must simultaneously seek out as many new subscribers as possible and continue to blur the boundaries between art and exploitation in order to stay one step ahead of competitors like Showtime and FX, brand manhood can be wrought with anxiety, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Personally, I wouldn't want it any other way. David Savran argues that contemporary manhood maintains hold of its patriarchal reigns by embracing its masochistic side and “taking it like a man”. Might HBO be marketing anxious pleasures of fleeting masculine power to its subscribers (who are, of course, both male and female) dressed up as inscrutable and opaque claims to “quality”? All I know is that the tremendous pleasure I take in watching a show like Rome is inseparable from my uncertainty about why exactly I define it as good. Masochistic pleasure indeed.