preferred science fiction and jungle adventures, but I didn't mind detectives, if they were Sherlock Holmes and Watson, or the Hardy Boys. Frank and Joe Hardy, high school aged sons of the famous detective Fenton Hardy, began by butting into their father’s cases in 1927, but soon found trouble enough on their own: they captured smugglers and counterfeiters, thwarted spies, investigated haunted houses that weren’t really haunted after all.
Although they are both in the same year of high school, the Hardys are a year apart in age. , but their personalities are complementary: the older Frank is reasoned, logical, and serious, while the younger Joe is impetuous, emotional, and something of a jokester. Since they managed to endure and even prosper while other boys’ book series failed during the 1960s, we may conclude that they provided something hard to find in the movies, tv programs, and comic books of the era.
British boy annuals and American adventure series, and the covers and interior illustrations (not to mention the 1970s tv series, starring Shaun Cassidy) often show off their physiques.
2. Contemporary boy scientist Tom Swift was girl-crazy, but the Hardys lacked heterosexual interest. Frank has a “favorite among all the girls of his class,” Callie, and Joe has “an attachment” to Iola. However, Callie and Iola appear in only four of the first ten installments, and never as girlfriends. No individual boy-girl dates are planned or discussed, no romantic attachment fuels any plot, and the only fade-out embraces occur between siblings.
Callie and Iola dance with the Hardys at parties, invite themselves along on their picnics, and run into them downtown, not so much objects of hetero-romantic desire as emblems of the “ordinary time” that frames the call to adventure.
Later, however, Biff is demoted to a minor character, and Chet becomes a ubiquitous best friend, confidant, tag-along, and comic relief. After the mystery is solved and explained, he returns the Hardys to ordinary time by saying something about sitting down to dinner or else “We’ve heard the story. Now let’s dance!” He no longer favor either brother. Instead, the Hardys live for each other.
The two share the intensity, intimacy, and exclusivity of homoromance, and perhaps the permanence, since they never discuss their immanent entry into adulthood, except to vaguely declare that they want to become detectives. All that separates them from homoromance is the fraternal bond: their passion is the passion of brothers, not of lovers.
Even the Hardy series must fudge a bit with the back story, alluding vaguely to an “illness” that kept Frank out of school for a year to explain why they are in the same grade. For that matter, why must they be in the same grade? They are rarely shown in school, so it would make little difference except that to establish that they cannot bear to be apart for even the fifty minutes of an algebra class. Real brothers sometimes require time alone, or with other friends. Not the Hardys.
But the Hardys display none of the easy jocularity, the good-natured ribbing, the posturing and the bullying of real brothers, in mass media or in real life. They behave precisely as if their bond is romantic rather than fraternal, as if they are in love.