David and Dick Swanson had this terrific idea. They think there should be a television show called “Fifty Something.” For those of you who slept through the 80’s, “Thirty Something” (1987-1993) was a most popular evening drama about the angst people in their thirties were suffering. It was a wonderful hour and despite the frequent whining, it did deal with serious life problems relevant to people in their thirties. Of course we were in our forties but we did have dim memories of similar issues.
No one I remember produced a show about being 40. I think it that’s because it’s kind of an interim age. In the thirties you are becoming a grown up person who finally has to confront adulthood. In your fifties you are trying not to be a grown-up and face the inevitability of being 60. But the 40’s are pretty boring. The kids (if you had them like a normal person, not like us) are at or coming to an obnoxious age when they think you are a dope and everything you say is stupid. When you are like us (older parents) you don’t get involved in those parent-child battles because you think your kids are a riot and they appreciate, rather than take advantage, of the fact that you worship them.
Anyway, what issues would you deal with on a “50’s Something” show? I guess the kids would be in their twenties so you could spend a few episodes on looking for colleges, deciding on how you would pay tuition, what the advantages were of the kids having an apartment as opposed to living in the dorm. Then you could spice up the kids’ episodes by discussions of sex, gender identity, alcohol and drugs, eating disorders, sleeping with the boy/girl friend at home, and looking for a career. I look at this list and think the more things change the more they stay the same. You wouldn’t have to talk about protesting or working hard and paying dues because kids don’t really do those things anymore. The “30 Somethings” never wanted their kids to struggle. The “ad base” for a “50 Something” show is huge: all those medicines you’re supposed to ‘ask your doctor’ about, and which, if you take them, encourage you NOT to operate heavy machinery. In fact it could be the one show on network TV which has similar numbers to the evening News shows. (Account execs for Spirvira, Avodart, and Boniva, please take note, and call us at your earliest convenience!) I guess the only issue might be that the show could cause inflamation of the liver, dizziness, itchy scalp, dryness in the throat, and flatulence. You know, just like BEING 50 does.
You might want to concentrate on other subject areas like, taking care of aging parents. There’s plenty of stuff to write about here. You could do an episode about losing a parent, or one on Alzheimer’s, then you could really let loose and talk about independent as opposed to assisted living situations. And if you want an ongoing theme could be the progression from independent to assisted to nursing care. In my family no one ever went into a nursing home, it was too embarrassing. There were two things that were too embarrassing for any of my aunts and uncles, one was a nursing home and the other was eating out on Thanksgiving. I can remember my Uncle Jack fleeing for the parking lot after a Thanksgiving meal spent at a restaurant in Hallendale, Florida. We looked for him for about a half hour and found him sitting in the car because he didn’t want to run into anyone he knew. Go Know, as my mother would say. But there is plenty of good stuff.
And then you need to deal with personal relationships. Things like, are “you” (and I mean “you” in the televsion character sense), still talking after the kids leave for college? Do you still want to have a life together? Is it possible to have a conversation that is not confrontational, ‘you did - I did’, or about pizza? Is plastic surgery an answer to staying attractive and will you concentrate on face, legs or boobs? Is your spouse faithful, unfaithful, or just sleepy. What kind of medication should you be taking to enhance your love life? What are you going to about retirement. Will you be happy doing nothing. How will you occupy your time? Warm climate or cool? City or Country? Do you want to move to one floor living? Can you survive in a smaller space? Does a retirement village sound like something from Hans Christian Anderson or Nightmare on Elm Street? Do you want to travel? Together? Does the spouse want a younger partner, a new family, a punch in the nose?
On second thought, television, whether it be comedy or drama is supposed to provide escape. Maybe, Davey and Dickie should stick to photography and stay away from producing television ideas. We’re just saying...Iris