There are few age groups easier to make fun of than millennials. In a way, they've become a self-fulfilling prophesy, wildly exposed by the technology that raised them. Evidence from Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter is often woven together to create the kind of caricatures we see played out on TV.
While shows like Girls and Broad City are dedicated to documenting the millennial plight, it can be jarring when the younger set is injected into some pretty outrageous scenarios in other shows. Several series in 2016 had their fair share of millennial warfare. Here are just a few of the most egregious offenders.
American Horror Story
As part of the "found footage" storytelling technique of the FX series' sixth season, the penultimate episode was told by way of a trio of young bloggers who run a fan site for the show within a show, My Roanoke Nightmare. They scurried around the land surrounding the haunted house, with selfie sticks, GoPros, and a substantial Instagram following watching their every move. Even after finding a dead body, they rationalize the horror because they're going to "go viral." While being hunted by a bevy of ghosts, they continue forward based on how many followers they've gained. In a season that questions what's real and what isn't, this scenario was the most terrifying of all.
Originally a web series of smaller vignettes, the HBO run of High Maintenance sews together a few smaller stories into intertwining episodes. "Selfie" tracks the day of a 20-something named Anja, who documents absolutely every part of her journey, from meals to shopping to getting her nails done. Everything has a caption, every piece filtered for the best view (i.e. - she has $12,000 in credit card debt, but lies and snaps that she's buying an expensive outfit.) At the point that she buckles down to interview the show's weed-dealing protagonist known as "The Guy," she can't help put snap a photo. He manages to see this and stops the interview to force her to delete evidence of his very illegal profession. She brushes it off, sends off a few more posts before bed, and in an incredibly real moment, bursts out crying the minute she looks up from the glow of her phone. While the perspective was amplified, it did make a good point about the loneliness that comes with always being connected.
The middle Pfefferman child spent season three having quite the existential crisis, disillusioned by running his own music company. One moment that didn't help was when an eager employee dropped into his office, asking if he had checked out a Dropbox link for a band he wanted to sign. He was convinced that what he felt when he heard this band was the same way Josh must have felt when he signed his breakout band, Fussy Puss. "How did that make me feel?" he asks. The employee responds, "Just like, heart emoji. Dollar emoji," without any sense of irony. Given the green light to sign, he leaves the office by saying, "smiley emoji." Eyeroll emoji. No-one-talks-like-that emoji.
The Great Indoors
"I know you were talking, but I'm afraid I didn't hear a single word any of you said. It sounded enthusiastic though!" There, right there in the clip above, is the millennial problem. After being patronized for trying to snap a photo of a freaking bear in the office, a group of "content creators" are then asked to rattle off some genius ideas of how to cover the bear in their outdoor-focused magazine. Even in the midst of their pitch, they just can't get through to wilderness man Joel, who can only promise to "tell" his friends in person about links to his blog. At the end, he tells them the ideas "weren't great," but his colleague rewards table rewards them for "trying hard" with literal trophies. It's hard to tell if this is a dream sequence (and frankly, we didn't have the stomach to find out) but its exhausting to think how much this kind of thing happens in workplaces, both real and perceived.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Kimmy's roommate, Titus, decides to rent out part of their apartment as an AirBnB to travelers. His first guests are a couple from Austin, who you hate immediately because of their stupid hats. They brag about spending their time in NYC going to ultra-hip destinations ("We have tickets to go see these malfunctioning Chuck E. Cheese characters re-enact an episode of Full House") and plan to open "an artisanal fair trade sneaker experience" called Sole Food. The scenario became an amusing sounding board for landlord Lillian's fight against gentrification, so over-the-top that you want them to lose. Read Steve Jozef's full re-cap of the episode here.
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The series finale finds central character Earn pulling himself out of a hangover after a long night of partying. When he realizes he's lost his jacket, he tries to retrace his steps. He goes to the strip club to see if it was found, but no one has it. Stumped, he realizes all he has to do is check on Snapchat, where videos reminded him that they took an Uber ride home, where he probably left it. It's a brief and subtle moment, but incredibly telling.
Survivor: Millennials Vs. Gen X
For a show that's been around for roughly 100 years, we commend Survivor for working to mix things up a bit with the most recent season. They've divided the tribes into generations, Millennials and Gen X'ers, probably in hopes that the millennials wouldn't know how to cook rice without Google. Eventually, the tribes integrated, and regardless of the outcome, we do know that hunger and mosquito bites know no age.