The life of the 21st century young adult has become one of the main themes in a lot of today’s programming. Those of us who have grown up in the late ’80s and early ’90s now make up the demographic show creators and networks want to appeal to. Some of us might even be show creators.
Interestingly enough, a lot of the post-post modern shows on television, like Steven Universe, Adventure Time and Regular Show are cartoons. An entire post could be made about why many of the shows created by Gen Yers are cartoons. My theory is that the creators are recreating their past experiences with Saturday morning cartoons (and Cartoon Network) and melding them with their current experiences as adults trying to make it in an America that’s just now coming out of its Man in the Gray Flannel Suit ideology, in which jobs aren’t as stable as they used to be, marriage is no longer considered a requirement, and having children is an act that can now be put off for later.
Some of the live-action shows about Gen Y also go revert back to the creator’s childhood. Shows like The Goldbergs, Fresh Off the Boat and Surviving Jack all have The Wonder Years method of going back to a time gone by. The only strange thing about these shows is that “a time gone by” is the ’80s or ’90s, two time periods that still seem like yesterday to a lot of us. Again, with these shows, viewers can look back to their childhoods while figuring out how to reconcile their former lives with their current adult ones.
But while these shows capture the confusion and wonderment of coming into one’s own as an adult in these times, USA’s Mr. Robot, starring Rami Malek, provides a point of view that quite a lot of shows, cartoon and otherwise, lack. Mr. Robot shows the brutality of 21st century existentialism and how, with even more conglomerates vying for our attention and with the internet as integral to life as it has been, it’s become even harder to realize what it is you are supposed to contribute to the world.