This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The new CBS sitcom "The Great Indoors" is about a fortysomething guy who is always being harassed and insulted by the twentysomethings he supervises at work.
It's so mean!
Actually, it's not. It's also mean to twentysomethings, despite some criticism it has received to that effect.
"The Great Indoors" (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2) is "about a gen-Xer re-entering the workplace," said creator/executive producer Mike Gibbons. And it's a rough transition.
Joel McHale ("Community") stars as Jack, an outdoor magazine adventure writer in his mid-40s. The magazine is going online only, and Jack is given a choice by his boss, Roland (Stephen Fry) either take a job supervising the young staff or find a new job.
So Jack becomes boss to millennials Mason (Shaun Brown), Emma (Christine Ko) and Clark (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
He doesn't have much respect for them; he calls them "stupid twentysomethings."
The millennials are mocked for being overly coddled. Entitled. Easily offended. Social media-obsessed. Clueless about anything that happened more than five years ago.
And Jack is the butt of the jokes about how he's old. Out-of-touch. Obsolete. Clueless about anything that's happened in the past five years.
It's a comedy. It paints with a broad brush. That's what sitcoms do … particularly in the first episode.
"So we're taking liberties," said Gibbons. "I just exaggerated a little."
The concept for the show "really came from me being made fun of by millennials," he said, recalling that, when he was the head writer on "The Late Late Show with James Corden," he tried to pay the writers' assistant who ordered lunch and the assistant was unhappy when Gibbons pulled out his wallet.
"He was just so bummed out I wasn't paying with my phone," Gibbons said. "He's like, 'Don't you have Venmo?' I'm, like 'Ven what?' "
The young man didn't even have a wallet. "He's like, 'Oh, you have pictures of your grandkids in there?' " Gibbons said. "I just had this big target on my back."
Yes, he's clearly taking some of that out in "The Great Indoors." Like when, in the first episode, Jack is called on the carpet for creating a "hostile work environment"
"Young adults today are a very delicate group," says the HR person, Carol (Amy Hill). "We offer an entire class on how to deal with that."
"Oh, is the class called 'I Was Born in the '90s Waah'?" Jack asks.
In Episode 2, Clark, Mason and Emma are in the bar Jack frequents and they're glued to their phones.
"What if I told you there was a dating app that would allow you to meet actual human beings right now?" Jack asks. "You know what it's called? A bar."
Emma can't conceive of such a thing."So you just walk up to some stranger while they're out with their friends? Creepy," she says.
But when Jack tries online dating, he makes a mess of it. And it's millennials to the rescue.
"The Great Indoors" isn't a great show, but it has possibilities. And the gen-X vs. millennial conflict is exaggerated.
Gibbons said millennials are "very smart," but "they also have an inability to resist, like, taking four photos of themselves every day."
So … not so exaggerated.
And Gibbons believes twentysomethings will watch.
"If something is about them, they will come," Gibbons said.
Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.