Life & Culture

Video: Norman Lear Takes on Aging

“Aren’t you expected to grow? Learn more about yourself and the world? You are when you’re young. Why would you be less expected to grow when you’re 80? The culture dictates how you behave, and maybe the elderly buy into it in the way they grow old. My role here now is to say, Wait a minute…. There’s a good time to be had at this age!” —Norman Lear

“All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “The Jeffersons,” “Maude” — Norman Lear created some of the best-known sitcoms of the 70s and pushed the boundaries by addressing social issues in prime-time entertainment. Now 93, he’s doing it again, except this time, network executives aren’t interested.

Lear’s latest sitcom script is “Guess Who Died.” Yes, it’s set in a retirement home and appears to take a somewhat irreverent look at the joys and pains of old age, in classic sitcom style. It’s also, we suspect, a challenge to us all to examine how we’re growing older and how we might do it differently.

According to Lear, who’s been shopping the series for five years, networks say the sitcom won’t be relevant for their core audience — young people. So Lear has decided to go ahead with some casting sessions on his own. In this New York Times video by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, whose documentary about Norman Lear has just opened in theaters, he’s hearing a succession of older actors read from his script for the first time. And while he’s at it, he’s taking the opportunity to point a finger at ageism in the TV industry.

What do you think: Would you want to watch “Guess Who Died?”



16 responses to “Video: Norman Lear Takes on Aging

    1. me too. I adored this clip. This man always makes me laugh or cry
      He is right on. Too bad the powers that be tjink this seriescwould not be successful. Humbug
      I wpuld watch it for surecand so would millions more

  1. U go norm you’ve proven there r still many of us old timers (I’m 73) that don’t feel old don’t act old and lead active fulfilling lives what’s the sense of retiring if your not out there enjoying every day like it’s your last after all it could b. Whether it’s joining a club volunteering playing with grandkids writing that book about your wild and crazy ride called life teaching English to immigrants there’s lots more stuff to do Norman is an inspiration that’s kept us laughing for yrs and hopefully many more to come

  2. As a viewer that falls into your age demographics, I think a series focusing on the aging issue is long overdue or at least would be a welcome addition to the TV schedule. The Brits know how to laugh at themselves and create(d) some great TV comedies focusing on getting old i.e. “One Foot in the Grave”, “Keeping Up Appearances”, “Waiting for God”, etc. Given the subject, humor is the perfect way to share stories by a master story teller where we, as the French say, “of a certain age” can kvetch about aches & paints, real and otherwise. You go, Norman!

  3. Everybody in the networks sneered at some of your far out offerings such as All in the Family, the Jeffersons, etc. now they are classics and so this one you have come up with will probably outrage at first, but will quickly become the rage. Go for it?
    Rita B.

  4. All those “networks” that refuse to air this wonderful show will be in my “demographic” some day…maybe then, they’ll ‘get it’.
    Absolutely I would/will watch this show. At 83 years old I long for some decent TV shows to watch. We’re still alive!… and appreciate intelligent writing like Norman Lear has given us in the past.

  5. I’ve posted it on my Facebook accounts & E-mailed it to all my friends!! I cried when he read the script when his wife died and laughed at the “dump”! I’m only 63 but, I believe in you Norman and I’m part of your demographic!! I can’t wait to see this!!!

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