I always knew that networks favoured the younger demographic, but I truly thought it was because they must watch more. Even if that didn’t actually jive with my reality (my daughters are NOT loyal TV watchers). But when the viewer-numbers totally support a show and then to find out that those great numbers still aren’t enough to secure a show’s future because it's geared to older viewers is soooo disheartening.
I hate to rant about this inequity because it’s kinda like ranting against bad officiating at an Olympic soccer game between Canada and the US ;) –if you can’t change a bad call, might as well accept it, right?
But do we have to accept it? According to the article, baby boomers spend—get this—400 BILLION DOLLARS MORE THAN ANY OTHER GENERATION. EVERY YEAR. Yeah. Every year!! See? I’m hoping that if I yell it loudly enough, advertisers will want to not just take my money, but maybe, maybe, tell my stories too.
In fact, you don’t have to look farther than Deb and I to hear tales of authentic and charming film and television ideas (if I do say so myself) that have been embraced by producers for these qualities … and then rejected by networks for their target demographic.
I know young people are sexy for their youthful glow and hot bods, but surely our money and spending potential should be waaaay sexier. I mean, you can sell us houses and cars and vacations and insurance and investment opportunities and expensive creams and, well, I could go on and on, right? My girls? The supposed ideal demographic for advertisers? They struggle to pay for their inexpensive goodies, and then have loyalty to exactly none of them afterward.
Every time I hear another story about how no one wants to tell our stories because we’re not sexy enough, the more I want to go all “cougar” on the networks and prove them otherwise. Except, of course, Harry’s Law, with its 8.8million loyal viewers (for NBC, second only to Smash in popularity) should have paved the way for us and still couldn’t do it. And if they can’t do it, how can any of us older viewers/creators hope to stake our place in storytelling?
I mean, I love the “young people” shows and movies. I’ll go to Batman and I’ve watched and loved Girls. But I can also say that 21-year-old Stefanie is very excited to see the new Meryl Streep film, Hope Springs. And why? Because she “loves watching middle-aged people navigate life”. I swear to god, direct quote. I think lots of young people like to watch older people do their thing. It’s about knowing what to expect down the road. It’s about relating to each other, learning from each other, speaking to each other from all different vantage points. It’s about accepting each other, age spots and all.
Life is interesting in every shape and size. Please open the door to this reality and don’t dismiss us because … I don’t know, because we aren’t as sexy as our kids.
Deb: My blood boils as I read this. Barb is too classy to refer to an exact recent incident because in fact she was my co-writer, but the project was rejected not because of the writing, but because it was felt that Colin and I are too old to be the “leads” in a series. Our middle-aged plot lines are not interesting to the general population apparently. GENERAL POPULATION???? See above for Barb’s rant regarding just who is doing the spending!!!! But, nonetheless, a few months ago after peddling our pilot around, we were told in various subtle and not so subtle ways that we were, well ... past our TV prime. Now I am pretty darned good at moving on with stuff like this, but I told Barbara that I was frankly daunted by this for a few days. It is the first time in my life, next to the day I found out I was menopausal and could no longer have children, that I felt redundant. So I hope that some other middle-aged couple comes along and does it for us, and for the considerable audience that is waiting to see their stories represented.