There’s a reason the situation comedy is dead, and “Retired at 35” is it. That is not to say that this show is solely responsible for the death of an entire genre of television, though sure, I just made it sound like it is. In fact, “Retired at 35” is probably one of the better versions of this show that I’ve seen. But there’s a problem inherent in that statement.
So, I’ve discovered that TV Land, cable station channel 629 on your local dial, has started producing “original” programming. Those of you not familiar with TV Land, I’ll make it easy for you, if it was on 50 years ago, it’s on again on TV Land. As such the average median age of a TV Land viewer is approximately mummified, so these new sit-coms not surprisingly, center around the premise of old people being a creepy, bitter hoot. You see, old people are just like you and me, those that have something left to live for, except everything they do that we do is kind of gross and sad.
“Retired at 35” is the story of a wormy New York middle management execu-something of an anonymous company that comically produces food based stick items, your toothpicks and popsicle sticks and what have you. This hysterical eating accessory tycoon for some reason makes the trip all the way down to visit his parents in Florida, naturally, for his mother’s umpteenth birthday. It’s during this birthday celebration that our hero quits his job (not a formal declaration of retirement as the shows future promos seem to indicate that he will then be looking for a job, making the entire show based on a seemingly random lie) that somehow inspires his mother to leave his father and their loveless marriage that had somehow managed to only hold together as long as no one did anything pointless and impulsive in front of them.
The rest of the episode then centers around this quitter son trying to set up his nonsensically separated father with elder poon, hunting said wrinkly gash at the local bingo hall, naturally, and in a “comical” twist of fate, bedding said blotter bimbo himself.
And while somewhat amped up with “edgy”, “mature”, “humor”, if this all sounds terribly familiar, and terribly terrible, it should. Shows like these are what make it so easy to see when something interesting and original comes along because it looks nothing like this.
Now, television is not an exact science, no one knows exactly how it’s supposed to be done. But the fact that this program will be gone next year, and all of the time and money that will have been wasted on this soon forgotten collection of cliché, just like the one before and the one before that, should be some kind of clue that this isn’t the best path to results. If television WERE a science, and someone was given a grant for an experiment that produced a form of life, so without the sustainable elements OF life that it would whither away within a couple months time after writhing in such agony that it’s very existence seemed to be meant as nothing more than an affront to every god that man has ever believed in. Then that scientist came back next year asking for another grotesque amount of money to recreate that exact experiment, only this time this abortion of television science would be a truck stop short order cook with a sassy Asian neighbor, that scientist would be asked to leave and to never be allowed to science again. For his safety and ours. But the folks that put together this program are the same that put together the last one and will be the same to put together the next one. It’s a creative gene pool so thin and diluted that it’s a wonder that any of their offspring survive at all.
But fear not gentle viewer, as the television landscape continues to stretch farther and farther, well beyond it’s breaking point, more of these shows will be forced to be made to fill the gasping void of programming hours and we’ll all get to relive this exact same tired, threadbare premise again and again… Wait, did I say fear not? I’m sorry, I meant, weep for the medium, because soon all that’ll be left is TV cameras following annoying people with pitiable lives that should never be shared with anyone. And won’t that be fun?