PBS Documentary The Boomer Century: 1946–2046
A world-class PBS documentary, The Boomer Century: 1946–2046, conceptualized by Age Wave, hosted by Ken Dychtwald, produced by Emmy-award winner Alexandria Productions, written by Academy-award winner Mark Harris, and underwritten by The Vanguard Group, premiered nationally on PBS on March 28, 2007.
This enlightening and entertaining special is the portrait of a generation that has dominated society from the moment it was born, kicking and screaming, in the forties, fifties, and sixties. Boomers have redefined every stage of life they have passed through, and they will continue to rewrite the rules as they enter the second half of their lives. The series covers the past, present, and future as the boomers transform into a massive age wave. Part nostalgia, part sociology, part psychology, and part demography, this original series will captivate viewers as they learn.
Ken Dychtwald, as curator, takes the audience on an exclusive VIP tour of his depiction of this world in an exhibition hall. Together we will wander through it, examine it, and try to make sense of it. You will see icons of the generation—Cub Scouts from the 50s, Vietnam vets, yuppies, hippies, and astronauts. Artifacts, graphic images, recreated rooms or precreated projections of the future will be displayed to illustrate the core elements of Ken’s message. Featured interviews include learned experts from the fields of sociology, gerontology, demography, and psychology, as well as outstanding individuals from the generation and those who have profoundly affected the generation.
The documentary begins with a look at how the boomer generation all began—with parents who lived through the Great Depression and survived World War II. Hard times were behind them and the promise of good times lay ahead. It was a great season to have a baby. This section takes us on a trip from the optimism of one generation through the rebellion of the next. These were the formative years for the boomers. As a group, they developed core characteristics. They became idealistic and self-empowered. They also became antiauthoritarian innovative rule breakers. These attributes would become the hallmarks of the generation. From the idyllic 1950s through the turbulent 60s and 70s, the boomers, and their unique generational personality, dominated every aspect of American culture.
Eventually rebellious teens must grow up, but the boomers chose not to embrace traditional adulthood. They transformed the workplace and drastically reshaped marriage and family. First, they pursued the American Dream with a vengeance. Then, when they were supposed to slow down or fade away, they demanded, “What’s next?” Faced with the traditional transition from adulthood to old age, the boomers continued to innovate and break rules creating a wholly new stage of life: middlescence—a time to rethink many of life’s early choices. Similar in some ways to the lifestage of adolescence, middlescence is about rebirth—discovering new passions, new goals, and new opportunities. The boomers are not about to start winding down as they enter the second half of life. For this generation, these years are a time for high-spirited growth and ascension.
As we look ahead at the boomers’ retirement, it is not going to be your father’s retirement or your grandmother’s dotage. As the boomers have redefined the teenage and early adult years, they will continue to do so for the latter stages of life. For starters, they are no longer “baby” boomers. They have become a continuing demographic force-an “age wave.” As this generation travels along the lifeline, it will once again profoundly induce change in American society, now and for the future. This demographic wave will dramatically reinvent the retirement years, and true to their nature, remain the antiauthoritarian innovators they have been since their youth. As their active parenting and aggressive career building becomes the past, they will live in their “Power Years,” a time to fully realize the dreams and aspirations that began in their youth.
This outrageous, antiauthoritarian, high-spirited generation has had a major impact on all Americans’ lives. Ken Dychtwald dispels some myths that have been perpetuated about the baby boom generation. The boomers have broken the rules and exploded the norms at every stage of life they inhabit. Undoubtedly, they will continue to do so as they turn 60, 70, 80, or 100 years old. Imagine a nation not of baby boomers, but elder boomers. It’s coming. Our country is about to be transformed by an age wave that leaves each stage of life changed forever.
The Boomer Century: 1946–2046, premiered nationally on PBS on March 28, 2007.
Read the release: “PBS Looks Back at a Generation That Transformed America….”