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TV Series Review

The Shady Meadows Retirement Community looks nice enough from the sidewalk. But step inside, and you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Not until you come across the nearest high school, that is.

Truth is, Shady Meadows feels a lot like high school. Oh, sure, no one frets over upcoming SAT exams or makes fun of Mrs. Milligan's gray hair. Most folks have gray hair here—if they have hair at all—and the only tests these folks need worry about are colonoscopies.

Still, despite the advanced age of most of its residents, maturity is in short supply in this retirement community. Romance blossoms, sex is had, and cliques are fully enforced. In this Fox sitcom, Shady Meadows is a lot like high school, only worse: After all, the cats in this place can get legally drunk anytime they want.

The Breakfast Flub

If Shady Meadows had a homecoming court, Hank Henderson might be its king. He certainly treated the place like his own geriatric kingdom for a time, complete with his own small band of subjects, namely hazy ex-hippie Charlie and the aggressively effeminate Sid.

But that was before a girl, Margaret, horned into the boys-only clique, taking a chair vacated by someone newly departed (i.e. dead). Hank didn't like Margaret's presumption one little bit. But after a territorial scuffle or two, Margaret was accepted as one of the titular "cool kids," perhaps because all parties involved realized that they're edging closer to true coolness all the time: room temperature coolness, that is.

AA Argh P

The Cool Kids feels like a callback to NBC's beloved sitcom The Golden Girls, wherein four Florida retirees spent seven seasons living and wisecracking together. The show was a rarity in the youth-centric 1980s and '90s, when the 18-49 demographic was the only crowd that mattered. The only time you saw someone on TV over the age of 50 was during arthritis commercials. The show was a hit, and it continues to boast truckloads of fans. The Golden Girls—which retired in 1992 and is now quite geriatric itself—even just spawned its own breakfast cereal. But I digress.

Given that folks who watch network television are getting older all the time (40% of television viewers are now over the age of 65), it was only a matter of time before some enterprising television executives dusted off The Golden Girls template and gave it another try.

Enter The Cool Kids—a show that, like The Golden Girls, dares suggest that life doesn't end when Social Security checks start landing in your mailbox.

Alas, the similarities don't end there.

The Golden Girls was a funny show about life and friendship and all that stuff. But it focused an extraordinary amount of attention on the love lives of its characters—particularly oversexed Blanche. Sex also seems to be a focus of The Cool Kids, which gives the whole show something of an alarmingly prurient vibe. (It's telling that while most sitcoms land comfortably in the TV-PG ratings grid, The Cool Kids earns a slightly more restrictive TV-14 rating.)

Language can be pretty troublesome, too, as can be the drinking and sly references to drug use. Moreover, Fox's show also lacks two critical elements that The Golden Girls had in spades: great writing and a good heart. The Cool Kids sometimes feels like it's just going through the motions.

"They're growing old, not growing up," Fox's trailer for the show proudly trumpets. Someone should remind the network that growing up has its perks, too.

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Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Jan. 4, 2019: "Funeral Crashers"



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David Alan Grier as Hank Henderson; Martin Mull as Charlie; Leslie Jordan as Sid Delacroix; Vicki Lawrence as Margaret






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Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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