Variety tells us that the new show called Only Murders is a comedy. And it could be.
But there’s a dangerous alchemy attempted here. Bringing together distant generations is hard to do. It almost always descends into an effort to find the funny in mutual incomprehension.
And nothing is sadder.
Different generations are different cultures. Strict rules govern the comedic possibilities. It’s ok if Selena doesn’t get Steven and Martin. Cool rules. Youth doesn’t understand age as a matter of principle…and pride.
But it’s not ok if Martin and Steve don’t understand Selena. This occasions embarrassment and drives every bit of funny out of the room.
On the other hand, maybe not.
Martin Short is a genius. Steve Martin is very funny. And show runner Dan Fogelman is gifted.
But here’s a solution. It comes straight out of the ethnographic data. Call it a gift from anthropology to Hollywood.
My interviews with Millennials tell me two things:
- that Millennials are often “playing” boomers, creating the impression that they like and admire them. Boomers are so clueless they don’t know they are being played. And if you can’t turn this into funny, well. Make this a running joke and you have a comedic device that will return riches.
- that Millennials sometimes conduct a private, coded communication with other Millennials as a way to comment on one another and Millennials. I studied an office in London where everyone sat around a table. Above table, they carried on an amiable conversation. Below table, chiefly in some social medium, Slack or Discord or something, they kept up a withering commentary.
So it’s simple, really. Let Steve and Martin not “get it” all they want, but allow Millennials this method of managing them.