If they build it, will we come? NBC has gone out on a limb, green-lighting a sitcom starring John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor as two aging boomers who set out to reinvent their lives and make the most of the twenty good years they hope they've got left. But will viewers--especially the prized 18-49 demographic--flock to Twenty Good Years in great enough numbers (starting Oct. 11) for the show to survive in prime time?
That's the $64,000 question: will you still watch me when I'm 64? Can great acting, writing, and directing take on the tyrannical 18-49?
If it works, Twenty Good Years could rank with The Cosby Show as a generational icon with profound influence on cultural norms and perceptions. (Not coincidentally, Cosby was the brainchild of the Marcy Carsey-Tom Werner creative shop, and Twenty Good Years is the first offering from Tom Werner's new digs at Warner Bros. Television.) With the leading edge of the boomer generation turning 60 this year, we're on the cusp of major cultural change as millions of healthy, vigorous older adults confront the question, "What do I want to do with the rest of my life?" Twenty Good Years--at least as judged by the pilot episode-- has got the smarts and laughs to draw its fair share of the nation's 76 million boomers.
But first the show needs to survive--and NBC hopefully will stick with Twenty Good Years (Wednesdays, 8:30 PM Eastern) the way the late NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff stuck with Cheers until it slowly found its audience and catapulted to #1.
So, why am I blogging about this? I'm co-directing a Harvard School of Public Health-MetLife Foundation initiative to change images of aging. For background, visit www.ReinventingAging.org.