The Great Indoors Series Premiere Plot Summary:
The Great Indoors explores what happens when an out of touch wilderness journalist in his mid-40s is forced to work with social-media savvy millennials.
Despite an excellent cast that includes Joel McHale and Stephen Fry, The Great Indoors does not live up to its potential. McHale and Fry make the best of the mediocre material presented to them. An astute viewer will find half of the jokes predictable. When Jack Gordon (McHale) asks if he now works with Roland’s (Fry) daughter, its obvious Roland’s will reply with “No, you don’t work with her. You work for her.” The joke only works because Fry is likeable when he isn’t yelling at millennials to get off his lawn IRL (“in real life,” for those of you who find jokes about participation trophies funny).
While stale jokes don’t help a sitcom, in a purposely bland sitcom, they aren’t necessarily a show killer. The Great Indoors isn’t trying to create sitcom magic. Its aim is to be nothing more than a product of its time, which it successfully does. The lame jokes serve the purpose of reminding the audience that the creators are turning into their parent. Whether or not that is intentional is another story.
Sometimes the show raises valid points. Yes, millennials could go out more. Of course, we should all put down the cell phone in the bathroom; no one needs to see a selfie from the toilet. However, the writers and the cast are being disingenuous in pretending they have no idea how social media works. The marketing campaign purposely played up the fact millennials would complain about an unfair and inaccurate portrayal.
The Great Indoors fails solely because the millennial characters are presented as one-dimensional, easily offended, forgettable shells of human beings, who can’t live without social media or have meaningful interactions with anyone outside of their age group. The Internet is full of millennials complaining that the very concept is offensive (ironically affirming what they are trying to dispute), yet no one should get worked up about The Great Indoors because the insults are tone deaf. The show may resonate with some part of CBS’ core demographic of baby boomers, but those people are the modern day equivalent of an older person in the ’70s watching All in the Family and agreeing with Archie Bunker’s worldview. At some point, the older generations get angry about the world passing them by.
As the show progresses, The Great Indoors will, presumably, develop the millennial characters beyond the living cardboard cutout stage. If the writers are smart, they will feature Roland more prominently, since he sells “old and out-of-touch” better than a guy who wrote his college papers on a Macintosh Computer and knows the current state of the Internet well enough to joke about creating an app without all the vowels removed from its name.
Even though The Great Indoors is a middling sitcom, it will resonate with someone. Unless you’re overly sensitive, the show won’t make a lasting impression.