From the opening scene of The Great Indoors, viewers are subjected to negative millennial stereotypes. Jack (Joel McHale) enters an office for the outdoor magazine that, we find out, he helped build and currently reports in the field for. He is greeted by a dog-wielding twenty-something.
Jack questions the receptionist by asking, in essence, “why the dog?” Immediately, the receptionist accuses Jack of giving into millennial stereotypes and unintentionally offers the information that the dog is an “emotional support” dog.
We move into the back office, where we meet employees Clark, Emma and Mason – all sketches of stereotypical millennials. It is later disclosed that Clark and Mason run a podcast together, and Emma hardly looks up from her job duties as the company’s social media coordinator.
Which brings me to my first issue with the series…within five minutes of the opening, we meet four characters (technically five if you count the employee who works from inside a tent whose name I can’t even remember, even after looking up the cast on IMDB), who all fit that “ugly” vision of millennials. The characters are caricatures, from first impression to the small details.
Clark is extremely eager to meet Jack, to the point that he exudes nerves at the first conversation yet still manages to cite him as “the reason” he got into outdoor journalism.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if I met my inspiration for the first time, I’d be nervous. And I’m willing to bet that anyone in the previous generation would feel the same. Sorry, but that’s not a millennial “thing.” And the fact that Clark showed Jack the “wrong” picture on his tablet is just stupid – for anyone, of any age.
All three employees truly have important jobs in today’s digital space, but Jack, who is accustomed to the print nature of a magazine, cannot wrap his head around their jobs and refers to Clark as having a “made up job title.” He turns his nose up when Emma announces to the room that he “doesn’t exist” because he doesn’t have a Twitter or a LinkedIn account. And he is later referred to as the “human version of dial-up” when Clark brings Jack’s website – circa 1996 – up on the office slide projector.
While it is easy to see why Jack may be humiliated by the wisecracks, it is essential to have a digital footprint in today’s media world, and Jack’s younger employees have a point. The magazine needs to appeal to a millennial audience, and in order to do so, it needs to be represented on social media both as a magazine – and by the man who founded said magazine. Clark takes the step of setting up a personal Instagram account for Jack…which I hope he thanks him for in a later episode.
In the next scene, Jack’s boss delivers the news that the magazine is moving away from print issues to digital-only website editions, citing Newsweek as an example of a successful model. To put it kindly, Jack is crushed and enters panic mode over the next set of news: he is now the supervisor of the millennial employees he just met (except, he refers to them collectively as “Digital Day Care”…).
Jack makes several more condescending references to millennials throughout the rest of the episode, not to mention the dialogue he has with the bartender at the bar next to the office in which they ask the following hypothetical question: “when are millennials not offended by something?” News flash for the writers: we’re not all easily offended. Some of us are calling attention to very important social justice issues when you accuse of us of being offended.
The episode continues with Jack ending up in the human resources department not once but twice, for making employees feel badly about themselves and creating a “hostile work environment.”
I could go on for at least another page about how the first episode of this comedy – that will no doubt be popular with millennial haters – is one huge generalization, but it’s probably best that I draw this rant—uh, review, to a close. So, here are a few takeaways:
- Millennials are still being stereotyped as crybabies. We aren’t all that way.
- No matter what members of the previous generation may think, a digital footprint is very important. In fact, we’ve written about how to make yours better through your personal brand. We wouldn’t write about it if it wouldn’t help the careers of our readers.
- Sure, there are millennials out there who fit these caricatures, but the same could be said for caricatures of people of any generation. Did the same conflict of ideologies not exist between our parents’ generation and our grandparents’ generation?
- All of that said, I am going to try to follow this series (I’ve said before how I’m awful at following weekly TV shows). I hope to see Jack accept his new employees, and I hope that they can learn a lot from him both about journalism and about the ideologies of the previous generation. They may be fictional characters, but I want to see them have a respectful dialogue.