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AARP at the TV Upfronts: Five Shows We Can’t Wait to Watch

The following is a guest post from AARP entertainment writer Austin O’Connor. 

Here’s one thing I’ve learned during the first two days of the network upfronts in New York City: Attending these annual glitzed-up PowerPoint presentations – when the nets unveil their upcoming fall lineups to assembled advertisers and brand partners – as a writer for AARP is a little like attending a high school prom as a parent chaperone. Sure, you’re there, but it’s really not about you.

See, for broadcast TV networks, viewers over 50 are nice, but not really necessary. The focus for them (and more importantly, for the advertisers on hand this week) is on viewers  aged 18-49 – and the younger you fall on that spectrum, the better.

On Monday at Radio City Music Hall, NBC Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt veered into talk of the 50+ audience only once, and even then it was a passing mention of growth in the 35-54 demographic (if you’re 55 or older, better just turn off your set). Later that day, uptown at the Beacon Theatre, Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly never even gave the 50+ crowd that much attention, focusing his introduction on millenials and the various screens (VOD and streaming mobile in addition to TV sets) on which they expect to be able to watch their shows whenever they want to watch them. If you’re still sitting on the couch with a clicker in hand waiting for your favorite show to start, you’re a dinosaur in these parts. And, at least according to them, you’re certainly not about to go out and buy a new car or change your preferred brand of sneakers.

On Tuesday at Lincoln Center, ABC Entertainment honcho Paul Lee seemed a bit more interested in casting a wider net, noting that his network hopes to “tell stories that are relevant to all ages.” Of course, he immediately followed that up by bragging that two of his network’s recent successes, Suburgatory and Revenge, were pushed by the casting of millenials Jane Levy and Emily VanCamp as the respective leads. Sure, but just try to imagine Revenge without Madeleine Stowe. See what I mean?

OK, enough with the generational warfare. CBS (“a great way to reach the 18-49 trips to the bathroom demographic,” as ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel joked during his net’s upfront) is on deck to unveil its lineup on Wednesday. The oldest-skewing network (and tops in overall audience – just sayin’) is sure to pay more attention to the graying viewers who have pushed it to its perch. I’ll have a report on the best of the CBS upfront tomorrow (along with partner cable nets TBS and TNT), but for now here are five new shows already announced this week that have me excited for the fall (with 50+ talent in bold):


Think you’d watch any of these shows? Have they all missed the mark? Tell us in comments – we want to make sure the network hears you!

Photo via Flickr user heyitsgarrett.