Thursday, June 4, 2015

TV or Not TV: Images of Older Adults

Photo by John Atherton
Because I review so many movies featuring older adults, people sometimes recommend that I watch specific series or episodes that depict older characters.

I might start reviewing television shows. I might not.

My first impulse is to stick with movies and books. I find greater character development and a broader spectrum of depictions in films.

I feel as though feature films and documentaries offer greater insights and epiphanies than television series.

Many characters on television shows are flat, unchanging and based on stereotypes.

This is more true of comedies, in my opinion, than television dramas or investigative journalism programs.

But I can't think of one television drama that focuses on age-related challenges.  I have, however,  viewed / reviewed several episodes of age-specific episodes of Frontline.

So with a little hesitation, I rented the first series of HBO's comedy Getting On (2013) this week.

I only made it through 1.5 episodes.

One could say the series satirizes health care and elder care in the hopes of effecting meaningful change.  I mainly found it depressing to watch the employees mired in petty politics and personal dysfunction so severe that the residents functioned more like props than people.

It reminded me of The Office, which I also abandoned watching for the same reason: too cynical.

But maybe I'm throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  Should I take a discerning look at The Golden Girls? Hot in Cleveland? Grace and Frankie?

We'll see.

[Do you have any recommendations?  Give me some guidance in the comments. Thanks!]


Films about Aging


  1. Oh, I used to love the Office. I do like Hot in Cleveland it's totally funny. I love the Big Bang Theory, and Mike and Molly too. I guess I like shows that make me laugh!

    1. I love a good laugh. Thanks for the recommendations.

    2. Is the one shown on HBO American or British? The original BBC series is written by Jo Brand (and Vicki Pepperdine and Jo Scanlan), who was a psychiatric nurse on such a ward before taking up comedy full time. It is quite a bleak series - though witty and full of dry humour - but that befits our crumbling NHS. If you haven't seen this original, maybe give it a go. It would be interesting to see what the differences are.

      I'm writing on ageing masculinity in novels at the moment but I think a comparative study of British and American representations of ageing in film and tv might be my next project!

    3. All my best to you with your project on aging masculinity in novels. I'm assuming you've seen the Kent Haruf novels? I have a post about ripening novels, it lists a handful with older male protagonists. Your British vs US representation project sounds great, too. Keep up the good work!