Late one evening as I surfed around my streaming sites hoping something new would strike my fancy, I noticed that series one of the BBC sitcom Boomers had been added to the browsing menu on Acorn TV. I had been watching mostly dramas of late and was looking for some levity, short and sweet. From a brief look at the cast list it was obvious Gavin and Stacey‘s Alison Steadman was the marquee name and hey, I liked Pam Shipman and her Fat Friends character as well. So Boomers it was! Little did I know how quickly I would be hooked.
Set in the fictional Norfolk-based town of Thurnemouth, Boomers is an ensemble piece about three couples of retirement age who apparently spend most of their free time together. The mood is established with a peppy (and expensive to license, I would expect) soundtrack of 60’s and 70’s Motown and rock favorites. I get it, the older I get the more I just want to listen to music of my youth.
But don’t think for a moment that this is a comedy about mature adults living in the past and resistant to the future. They have a fair grasp of technology (laptops, tablets, smart phones) not to mention the myriad of problems that accompany our modern lives.
For Joyce (Alison Steadman) and Alan (Philip Jackson), retirement isn’t turning out to be a smooth transition. Part of it is about temperament – Alan wants to slow down, Joyce wants to speed up. But an even bigger issue has to do with finances.
Financial planner Trevor (James Smith) and his wife Carol (Paula Wilcox) are comfortably set for the next stage in their life. It’s forty years of marriage, an empty nest and a disintegrating state of communication that plagues this couple. But they’re making an honest attempt to rectify the problem, though personally, I feel Trevor is more committed to the process than Carol.
John (Russ Abbot) and Maureen (Stephanie Beacham) are the most social and adventurous couple of the three. For them 60 is the new 40. However, they are dealing with a very common challenge among this generation, caring for an elderly parent – in this case Maureen’s mum, Joan (June Whitfield) who is transitioning to a care home.
Whether they are celebrating an anniversary or retirement, mourning the death of a friend or taking the obligatory summer holiday trip together, it’s the relationships that are the touchstone of the show. The marriages, friendships and even the complicated parent/child bonds portrayed in Boomers feel authentic because they are constant, dependable and, in many instances, awash with ambivalence. I particularly enjoy the friendship between the three amigos, as Trevor likes to call them.
So despite the fact that I am almost two decades removed from the experiences of these characters and firmly established as a Generation X’er, I can relate because I understand where they started. I too had a close-knit circle of couples for friends that were a second family of sorts. If relocation and a very sad premature death hadn’t occurred, I could see us being much like this group to this day -certainly not perfect, but a reliable and caring support system all the same.
I’m also not so far removed from their situation that I don’t connect to the issues that loom ahead. How better to cope with the inevitability of aging than with humor and friendship no matter how smothering it can become at times?
Programming note: If you are an Acorn TV subscriber, series 2 of Boomers will premiere on Monday, October 10th.