The new TV season has started, so I’m checking out all that I can. ABC is appealing, because they offer their piliots as free iTunes downlaods. Great to stave off boredom on the eliptical machine. Today, I sweated to My Generation, but it felt closer to vomiting. I wasn’t alone, since ABC dropped that ratings albatross after just two episodes. Let me posit a theory as to why it bombed
The premise is nice (and unoriginal) – it’s a mock documentary following nine friends from their high school graduation in 2000 to today. (A riff on the excellent, real British documentary series “7 Up!”) Yep, these are the world-conquering Millennials, members of the worshipped, inspirational, entirely unique generation that graces the Earth like no other in history. Thanks to the Internet, even their brains are more evolved than their predecessors’.
I don’t dislike Millennials, by the way. I know a bunch of them and like quite a few. What I dislike (OK detest) are the fictional, absurdly beautiful Wunderkinder created by Hollywood and fawning marketers.
This gang is no exception to the cliche. Twenty eight, and they are already amazing. Let’s see, Brenda is not only a lawyer but a staffer to a congressman (with an office bigger than an actual congressman’s) who writes his groundbreaking reform legislation. She was inspired by Bush v. Gore to go that route. Oh yeah, she was also prom queen.
Rolly is a tall, beautiful man who got a full basketball scholarship to Stanford, where he lead the league in scoring. Now he’s a handsome officer stationed in Iraq.
Jackie won some beauty contests, and her great disappointment was that she only made semi-finalist on season two of The Bachelor.
The one slacker (or unfortunate, as we later discover), is Steven, a gorgeous surfer and bartender in Hawai’i who must endure beautiful women giving him their phone numbers. Even the humble school history teacher is beloved by his freakishly well-behaved public-school pupils. And on, and on…
Not that they don’t have problems. We have infertility, separation by war, financial downfall, and a the sudden discovery of a nine-year-old son. After all, we need some drama.
What’s also amazing is the Forrest Gump-like knack of these characters to be involved in nearly every major event of the past ten years: The 2002 Election, 9/11, Iraq, Enron, etc. These kids are at the center of history.
Oh, and why is everyone so beautiful? Even Lost had Hurley (perhaps my favorite, BTW). Can’t any of the characters be at least so-so looking? I’ve seen plenty of Millennials who are.
In 1994, by contrast, we had the Xer touchstone Reality Bites. When Winona Rider’s character bemoaned “I’m 23. I thought I’d be something by now,” we all howled with laughter at her hubris. Welcome to the real world! But now, at a mere 28, most of our wonderful characters in My Generation really are something. Reality Bites also didn’t make everyone beautiful. Janeane Garofolo was still in her pudgy phase (and her character was working at The Gap). And Ben Stiller, though a handsome guy, played a greasy cad.
Though I love the title of that movie, I also have a problem with it. Reality doesn’t necessarily bite. It’s often wonderful. Please give me real characters, with real lives and both real problems and real joys. That’s not just my generation. It’s every.