On TV's Parenthood, a Striking View of Gen Y

Parenthood is a decent show, one I mentioned briefly once before. It’s filmed at locations near my house — a recreation center, a restaurant, and a local high school.

It’s a serious show, one that portrays parenting as fairly difficult and draining and would probably serve as a low-cost form of birth control for a teenager watching.


The grandparents (one played magnificently by Craig T. Nelson) have their own financial and marital problems.

Meanwhile, their daughter, previously married to an alcoholic, is the single mother of two.

Their other daughter is married and has two kids; she and her husband struggle over whether to have a second child, and whether she’s understanding that he matters too, despite her being the breadwinner.

The third kid, Adam, is a shoe-manufacturing exec who is married and has two kids, one autistic, the other a teenager who’s romantically involved with an adult who happens to be an alcoholic.

If you watch the show, you know the drill from here. Adam’s boss, who used to be involved with Adam’s sister, is gone, replaced by a Gen Y goof-off who’s portrayed on the show as a space cadet who got rich off a gaming invention.

(On one episode, Adam comes home and says to his family, regarding the new young boss: “My boss thinks I’m too old. I’m 41.”)

The show’s caricature of Adam’s new young boss is alarming … or, maybe not. Maybe this is how many people view 20-somethings these days: a group of MADD (mega attention deficit disorder) pot smokers who might strike it rich by inventing the right app in between foosball games.

If you watch the show, I wonder if you were surprised at just how Gen Yish the Gen Y boss is portrayed. Of course, it’s just a TV show, crammed with 50 minutes of melodrama. Then again, the show was designed to mirror the reality of having a family. That makes me wonder if this is just what the show’s writers and directors think of a Gen Y boss, or what a lot of people think.




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