A painful, bitter pill that anyone living must face is that one day you will be old. My initial reaction to the concept of TNT's Men Of A Certain Age was whether the programmers at TNT were smoking something. The only time that I could recall a show about older people working well was The Golden Girls.
This show, starring Ray Ramano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher as men in their 40's struggling with old age, proved that such a concept still had a life to it. Although it's not a straight comedy as The Golden Girls was, many of the situations (some of which are dark) have their own laughable ironies. Take for instance the character of Owen (played by Braugher).
Owen, who in the first season struggled to financially support his family by working as a car salesman at his father's dealership, suddenly ended up in charge of the dealership when his father got ill by the show's second season. In addition to being given the responsibility of managing a business, he also had to contend with a long-standing debt his father had to pay back when he managed the dealership. On top of that, Owen has to contend with the dysfunctional structure of the dealership which often pits salesmen against servicemen.
If he struggled to support a family of his own, then inheriting his father's business added to the struggle by now having to manage two families. It's the result of wanting to be a "man" that no one ever talks about. Something when you inherit the throne, you inherit the mess that comes with it.
Joe (played by Ramano), who owns a party store, is the complete opposite of Owen. His struggles are not about trying to raise a family (he's divorced) or trying to save his business; the battle that Joe mostly fights is the one with himself. Although he has a small amount of success with his store, he often feels uncertain about who he is supposed to be.
In addition to being very insecure he also is struggling with the effects of a gambling addiction. To make matters worse he complicates the road to recovery by being friends with Manfro, his own bookie. During the second season, he takes on the job in addition to being a business owner of being a fetchman for Manfro when battles cancer for a short time.
The basic problem with Joe is that he likes to be in bed with his demons unconsciously. He frequently, as a result of his gambling addiction, places "mind bets" with himself. One of the largest ones is trying out for a senior golf tour in the hopes of moving on from the dull life he leads. He very nearly gives up, until an act of god allows him a chance at advancing further towards getting on the tour.
This is also the moment he realizes that he can be a good father to his son and his daughter, who come to realize they actually do love him.
Terry (Bakula), the commitment-phobe, is the more easy-going of the three at the beginning of the series. He's always trying to fight the clock; he constantly tries his best to get back into the acting game at his old age and he always has relationships with women far younger than he is. Everything in Terry's mind has a time limit; once that time is up, Terry for better or worse leaves.
He's a drifter who finds staying in one place to ultimately be a trap set-up by people who are afraid to take chances. Although most could perhaps agree with this brand of logic, the odd thing about Terry is that he is his own trap; he's gotten comfortable being this bouncing ball that never likes to stay put. Throughout the two seasons, Terry decided to make the long-hard road to being a responsible individual.
By the end of the first season, Terry took a job as a salesman at Owen's dealership. During the second season, he tried his hand at a real relationship with someone near his own age. At the second season's end, Terry decides to leave the dealership and try his hand at being a director after making a car commercial for Owen's dealership the episode before.
Terry, more than the other characters, showcases what happens when Peter Pan stays Peter Pan forever. While they all admire is carefree attitude, his reliability in adult matters can be terrible. Yet while he can give advice to others on how to live, including his friends, he doesn't exactly know how to live his own life.
Each of these characters are facets of the human experience. The funny in each of their lives comes from the fact that people, especially in these hard times, are constantly struggling not to move backwards. People who had a plan for their future and now finding their future to be different from what they imagined. Careers that people thought they would have never see the light of day and a more mundane job to keep a certain level of survival exists.
TNT having recently canceled the show made a poor decision with the scheduling of the second season. To place the remaining episodes of the show during the summer and airing the first few of the second season earlier this year would guarantee that the show would never reach a third season. While they go about promoting more cop/lawyer/forensic shows, a show like this that is different suffers.
Television has largely forgotten the older people of America who would like to see someone of their own age be the focus of a plot. Older people carry with them a bevy of different life experiences, good and bad, that can make for an endless variety of stories. Younger people, in my opinion, are much harder to make as interesting characters these days because the majority of our time isn't spent with other people, but with social media and more indoor activities.
Men Of A Certain Age, if it were granted a third season, would most definitely be considered must-see TV. It would especially be given that kind of status if a proper network other than TNT was given the chance to have it. Right now, a facebook page is up and running from fans of the show to try and get other networks to put the show on for another season.
The goal, after trying AMC, Starz and USA, is to try and put the show on the Reelz Channel or The A&E network.
If you want to help in the effort to bring back Men Of A Certain Age, please do so buy writing to the following addresses for Reelz and A&E:
Matt Singerman, SVP of Programming at REELZ
Steve Holzer, Executive Producer of Original Programming
Lisa Lucas, Supervising Producer of Original Programming
Robert DeBitetto, President and General Manager at A&E
Although attempts have been made to get the Starz channel interested, nothing has come back yet. These are the addresses for that network:
You can also help out by spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook and even Google+. Any bit of attention this show gets means a possible step towards another season. I mean television audiences aren't completely that devoted to fighting crime, are they?
It's time for something different. This is different.