The Great Indoors stars Joel McHale as an adventure reporter for an outdoor magazine Outdoor Limits, now relegated to oversee a group millennials by its publisher Roland (Stephen Fry). So naturally, when the cast and creators went in front of the Television Critics Association for their summer tour on Wednesday, 90% of the questions were about the clash of millennials and the olds.
Great Indoors is fundamentally a fish-out-of-water tale of a nature-loving, meat-and-potatoes dude coming to terms with a world where everything's digital and eating raw vegan stuff. The idea came from the brain of Mike Gibbons, the Emmy-winning executive producer of shows including Tosh.0 and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.
Inspiration for the show came from a writers room, where he found that his young co-workers had completely different approaches to life than him: they were baffled by his reliance on cash instead of Venmo; and he was dismayed that everyone is suddenly wearing skinny jeans.
"The workplace is unrecognizable to [Jack]," Gibbons said. Jack, like so many people in the real world, discovers that the office is now full of millennials in an "overly PC coddled work environment" — setting us up for jokes about micro-apartments, microagressions and the tricky nature of online dating.
Of course, the danger here is that it's perilously close to trite, pat and one-dimensional, "You crazy kids and your Interwebs!" comedy, which is exactly how some of the press — especially the millennials in the audience — at the Television Critics Association took to the show.
"I was relying on what's personal is universal," Gibbons said, defending criticisms that the show is just cheap stereotypes. "I only know how to write self deprecating humor. A lot of people are recognizing how fast [culture] is moving. If you're in your late 20s you're made to feel old now. This was a little bit exaggerated, but we're all being swept up by technology and a new culture at work.
On the show, Jack's new colleagues include Clark (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) a tech nerd obsessed with surviving on Mars; Emma (Christine Ko), the social media expert; and Mason (Shaun Brown), a hipster who hasn't spent actual time outside. Jack reports to Roland's daughter, Brooke (Susannah Fielding) an ex-flame who gives her staff trophies just for working hard. Jack's best friend, Eddie (Chris Williams) runs the local dive bar that's popular with the younger set and helps Jack "decode" his co-workers.
The idea that young people would be offended by the tropes, the cast noted, only reinforces the premise of the comedy: that millennials are overly sensitive and take themselves too seriously. If the show does its right, executive producer Chris Harris said, "Both sides are making fun of each other and leaning something."
The Great Indoors premieres Thursday Oct. 27 at 8:30/7:30c on CBS.