Butler Fuqua – Magnum Pi Response


Butler Fuqua

Response to Magnum Pi Pilot Episode

Modern Media Systems




According to IMDB the show magnum Pi was produced by Belisarius Productions, Glen A. Larson Productions, and Universal Television. The show was originally aired by Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), but many other companies after distributed it after that.




Some of the main stars were Tom Selleck as Magnum, John Hilerman as Higgins, Roger E. Mosley as TC, and Larry Manetti as Orville ‘Rick’ Wright. This is also according to IMDB. I do not have the space in this response to cover every main character mentioned, but I will reference some of them.


I do, however, believe it is important to cover what Magnum, Tom Selleck’s character, represents from my observation. The show attempts to gain a following by showing the male population a unrealistic model to follow.




By watching Magnum Pi, we can see into the desires of men at the time. Magnum was what every man wanted to be: intelligent, smooth, tough, brave, and somewhat promiscuous.


He was not just intelligent, but he also possessed skill that no one else had. He reveals this when he says that no one other than himself would be able to break through Higgins’s security.


He is a charming rebel. Magnum showed that respect for Naval officers and authority were not factors in his plan. He even took sport in going against what Higgins expected of him.


Every pretty lady wanted him. His best friend’s sister had always wondered when they would be lovers. The foreign guests at the house wasted no time persuading Magnum to get naked with them. Magnum considered the two French stewardesses his before the even arrived.


Magnum was his own boss. He picked an occupation that allowed to have a free schedule, something we all want. Not only this, but his job is very interesting and full of adventure.  


Magnum lived a lifestyle of luxury and rules don’t always seem to matter to him. We see how the media depict what the country wanted through Magnum’s charm, confidence, and overall way of life.


Themes and discourses


Vietnam had just ended. Magnum’s flashbacks represent leaving chaos and entering reflection and appreciation. This shows how the nation dealt coming out of the war. Soldiers may had been seen less as the enemies, and people could begin empathising with military.The same way magnum dealt with his past, the nation was dealing with the memories of war.


People, such as Magnum’s friends, were trying to “fit in” to a civilized lifestyle after a life of combat in the jungle. They were all entrepreneurs that were trying to live the “American Dream” after fighting on behalf of America.


World War 2


World war 2 was mentioned in connection with veterans from the Vietnam war. This shows cohesion with our society to not just one war, but how multiple wars and incidents are somehow related.


The incident from this first episode had to do with war, but was considered a “personal” matter or interest. It was technically on the books for the NIA. When family members died, this shows our relation as a nation to the harmful effects of war.  




Hawaiians are the bad guys. Unfortunately, American culture has often labeled what we call “minorities” as the “bad guy.” While being in Hawai’i, the Hawaiian is painted as a criminal. Not even a main bad guy, but just one that is used.


American culture at the time didn’t seem to care about where Hawai’i came from, or what the people are about. Instead, there seems to be a theme that Hawai’i is the USA’s personal vacation and dream location.




Media at the time of Magnum Pi seems to paint an unrealistic picture of women. Most of the women were involved by their looks, passions, and emotions and not so much for their intellect or character.


From memory, I cannot remember a woman from the show that was not blonde or petite. I do not believe there was any scene with women only conversing with each other. It is hard to find a movie or show that has two or more women conversing with each other without a man present. Magnum Pi follows suit.




There was a suspense around sexuality. It appears that media at the time took the opportunity to add romantic or sexual tension in any scene applicable as a standard enhancer. Two of the lead roles have an expected love interest in each other, Magnum seems to often pursue temporary relationships with house guests.


Multiple scenes of meetings and transactions were at Rick’s club where men and women seem to hook up. TC made this very clear to use by his lack of interest in serious matters while picking out which woman he wanted to get with from the one-way mirror.


Real life


I do not believe the show displays a lifestyle that is realistic. However, I do believe the prompts, desires, feelings, and needs are realistic. The hurt magnum feels, the passion the cast had for Cook, and seeking one’s personal goals if incredibly real.


What is fiction is how these emotions or ideas are played out. The show demonstrates realistic desires, conflicts and emotions that we can relate to, but it does so in a way that is fictional. In my opinion, this makes for a very entertaining show that we can watch to understand human behavior and where the nation was in the 1980’s.


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