Pop Culture: Creating Television Comedy to Appeal to the Baby Boomer Demographic

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Actress Vicki Lawrence hopes her latest TV series The Cool Kids will appeal to the over-50 age demographic. She describes this group as “incredibly underserved” by programmers(1). Does the recent decision by the Fox network to air the comedy reflect a renewed interest on the part of ad agencies in tapping into a sometimes overlooked (yet economically powerful) market?

The decision to create a zany comedy series specifically designed to appeal to seniors may well reflect a new pop culture trend in the USA. It could herald a move away from TV fare laden with poorly disguised “social message” sitcoms (although it might simply indicate television network programming remains unchanged regardless of the target demographic). For decades, television producers have frequently directed their efforts towards capturing a presumably free spending teen market. Might the ratings generated by The Cool Kids during the next few months reveal shifts in this strategy?

Struggling Broadcast Networks

Today television broadcast networks find their television market shares shrinking in the face of streamed media. Innovative companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime now reach millions of households with on-demand television and movie fare. Their streamed content often siphons away prime time audiences.

Demographic Considerations

Most statisticians define the large “Baby Boomer” post-WWII demographic to include people born between 1946 and 1965. This rapidly graying section of the population now encompasses an estimated 74 million Americans between the ages of 52 and 70.(2) While analysts expect the numbers of Baby Boomers to decline in the future as the population continues aging, this significant demographic segment does currently command considerable economic resources. As more Boomers retire, presumably their TV viewing hours will increase.

The Cool Kids

The Cool Kids stars Vicki Lawrence, Martin Mull, Leslie Jordan, and David Alan Grier. It follows the antics of a group of rebellious seniors residing in a retirement center.(1) While some critics have compared the series to The Golden Girls, Vicki Lawrence has decribed the content as “sassier”.(3) The series aired in late September to mixed reviews.(4)

1. https://madison.com/entertainment/television/hip-again-vicki-lawrence-finds-new-spot-on-fox/article_a62c7fc7-b8f6-51bf-92ec-94e8fa0755c6.html
2. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/
3. http://www.poconorecord.com/entertainmentlife/20180929/comic-quartet-discusses-getting-older-technology-and-how-comedy-has-changed
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cool_Kids_(TV_series)

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