Nope, we are not over the hill, but yes, we do like putting our feet up and watching a good show or movie every once in a while. Having reached our ripe old ages, it really makes us seniors happy to watch programs that portray us as real, live human beings who still have our wits about us. We also like adventure, travel and things that make us think. And due to the doom and gloom of recent months, we don't mind a bit of levity.
To be quite honest, we tend to choose our favorite shows based on many of the same criteria as other generations. Characters should be relatable and real -- not just made fun of because of their advancing age. When it comes to old movies, we don't mind rewatching some of the shows that featured our generation's heartthrobs. History is another favorite genre, especially when we lived through the real thing, and the story is authentic.
The reality today is that many seniors are continuing to live independent and active lives. Carpe diem! Shows that feature seniors who are living active, fun lives while remaining productive and valuable to society are absolute favorites. Netflix's "Grace and Frankie" features strong, sassy and sometimes irreverent seniors living their lives to the fullest. It has a great cast of seniors, too. Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are all in their 70s and 80s -- and no topic is off-limits.
Other shows that portray older and vital characters -- that are actually played by older actors -- include CBS' "NCIS," with Mark Harmon as team leader Gibbs. He is 68 years old. In Showtime's "Homeland," Claire Danes' character is mentored by Saul Berenson, who is played by 67-year-old Mandy Patinkin. BBC's "Call the Midwife" is about a group of nuns and midwives in England. The convent is led by Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter, 67), and the sometimes senile Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt, 84) still contributes much wisdom to the crew.
Today's senior likes to be both entertained and informed. A senior named Eda tells us, "Older folks like programs geared to us ... docudramas or good comedy." She says she and her husband like to tape "The View" to enjoy after dinner. They also like to watch Broadway shows on PBS. Maria goes for the smart writing and terrific acting of "Mom." Marshall says his wife opts for many of the British offerings available on PBS, as well as "Masterpiece Theatre." Wally and his wife like watching Australian TV show "Sea Patrol" for the beautiful and exciting scenery. Barbara likes watching reruns of some older shows like "Star Trek," "The Odd Couple" and "The Rockford Files."
Other people like to select old movies to watch while spending time with their older relatives. Titles such as "Casablanca," "The Magnificent Seven," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Singing in the Rain," "The King and I," "The Sound of Music" and "Bringing Up Baby" seem to top the list. Whether it's just spending time with family or truly enjoying the shows, the silent generation and older baby boomers appreciate these oldies but goodies. However, seniors also often look for movies that show their present-day contemporaries living life to the fullest. Popular movies fitting this description include "The Bucket List," "Calendar Girls," "Cocoon," "Up," "Driving Miss Daisy" and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
Seniors, on average, spend more time watching TV than millennials do, and they have the leisure time to hit senior discounts at the local multiplex. A new trend that is catching on is movie sequels that literally grow older with time. "The Expendables" is one such action flick enterprise; the first was released in 2010, the second in 2012 and the third in 2014. There is a fourth movie yet to be released. The series has a recurring cast of actors, including older actors such as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren and Pierce Brosnan. "Terminator: Dark Fate" just made the rounds of the movie theatres with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton reprising their 1984 roles.
As it turns out, seniors don't differ much from other age groups in their entertainment preferences. Whether it's an action-packed crime drama or a lighthearted comedy, older Americans are usually on board to watch. But what's often missing for seniors is on-screen representation; a cast of relatable and intelligent older characters is hard to come by. Take note, Hollywood, and bring more seniors to the big screen!