The older we get, the clearer it becomes that the entertainment is for people younger than we are. This “The Demo” If a television program is popular with men between 18 and 35, television stations can ask for higher rates. Media experts have repeatedly found that people who watch television are not interested in watching programs that feature characters that are different than they are. If you are 18 years old male the changes of you wanting to watch a show staring women in their 60s goes down substantially. As Boomer grow older, programmers at the networks are beginning to see how short sighted this approach can be.
There have always been examples of shows that feature older character but in the last few years the number of quality shows has increased.
Hot in Cleveland / Retired at 35– TV Land
TV Land was launched in 1996 as a venue to show classic television shows getting that no longer fit the Nick at Nite late night television block. In 2007 they began to shift programming towards away from classic 60s and 70s televisions to the hits of the 80s and 90s. They also started created original programing. In 2010, they broke new ground by creating original sitcoms featuring older adults. Hot in Cleveland, starring Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White, premiered in June 2010 to 4.75 million viewers, a TV Land record and Retired at 35 starring George Segal, Johnathan McClain and Jessica Walter premiered on January 19, 2011.
In addition to Betty White, Hot in Cleveland has cast many actors from classic television programs to play guest rolls. Mary Tyler Moore, Susan Lucci and Carl Reiner have all made at least one guest appearance.
These two shows represent a push into the world of “aging” finding humor in growing old. They are not unlike past sitcoms like Friends which found humor in the problems of being young.
The Closer / Men of a Certain Age – TNT
Unlike Hot in Cleveland, The Closer and Men of a Certain Age feature older actors but are not about being old. These two shows are dramas. The Closer is a perpetual police drama driven by an ensemble cast of mostly experienced character actors. While it does not focus old “being old,” age has a direct impact on the characters. The show’s star, Kyra Sedgwick, must deal with the health issues assucited with being in ones 40s and 50s. During the show’s fourth season, she is diagnosed with early onset menopause and later has a caner scare. One of the other show’s character, Detective Lieutenant Louie Provenza, played by the 66 year old G. W. Bailey, has to constantly deal with the stress of being a police officer over 60.
Men of a Certain Age is comedy-drama created and staring Ray Romano. It focuses on three men going through the trial of middle age. Each of the shows three main characters must deal with different issues, but come together to deal with their changing lives and the changing world.
Mike Lewis is the content manager for CMSS Chicago. They provide senor living services in the greater Chicago area.