Just because something’s an easy target doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take aim at it. Producer Mike Gibbons, who has quipped that 40 is the new 80 and is himself 49, is launching a new show on CBS this fall called “The Great Indoors,” which mocks outdoor magazines, millennials, digital media, outdoor journalists of a certain age, clickbait, millennials, outdoor magazines…you get the point.
It’s set at a familiar-looking glossy title called Outdoor Limits, whose field editor Jack Gordon, play by Joel McHale, is recalled to headquarters to learn that the magazine is shutting down the print version and going all digital. (If that sounds familiar…) Gordon is tasked with overseeing young co-workers, whose idea of a great story is Best Outdoor Gear for the Zombie Apocalypse. (Hey, would you look at this!)
CBS describes it thus: “Joel McHale stars in this insightful and timely comedy about a renowned adventure reporter who has spent his life exploring the edges of the earth. Now that he’s taken a desk job in the digital department of the magazine, he must adapt to the times and his new world. He’s struggling to grasp the lingo of online click-bait and listicles, but his real challenge is in understanding his staff of millennials who write about the great outdoors but never actually set foot outside.”
The first look video, below, reveals the disturbing presence of a laugh track, along with some obvious jokes. (“I’ll think of you on my flight to Patagonia.” “Not as smart as he thinks…Patagonia’s, like, three blocks away.”) But still, there are bears, fleece, puffies, and other accoutrements of field kit, and a clear working knowledge of the absurdities of the new media world and the tension between authentic adventure and made-up adventure. Even though it clearly follows standard sitcom tropes (and not in a good way), it hits close enough to home that most adventure-loving people should at least take a look.
And perhaps funniest is the real-world irony that popped up when CBS showed “The Great Indoors” to the entertainment press, which included millennials. Producer Gibbons was describing an incident that took place during a focus group session, where a young participant was bothered that the show portrayed millennials as hyper-sensitive and coddled. The focus group leader said, “So, you were offended by millennials being portrayed as too sensitive?”
One can almost hear Gibbons smirking as he relates the story.
But the anecdote didn’t go over well with the millennials in the press corps. “I’m a millennial myself,” said one reporter. “How are we so coddled, and what about our overly politically correct workplace bothers you?”
Gibbons later said, “It was like an irony wormhole. I was afraid people were going to think we paid that reporter to prove our point. The outrage that we’re calling them easily outraged.”
The Great Indoors makes its debut October 27.