The Great Indoors is a new US sitcom about an outdoor adventurer magazine which is being forced into the digital age by becoming online only and thus staying indoors (hence the pun title). Outdoor Limits magazine struggles to remain relevant in the Internet age – and its predominantly 20-something employees now have the arduous task of turning inspirational stories about climbing mountains and saving species into Buzzfeed-esque slideshows and videos whilst rolling their eyes at the ignorant geriatrics.
This pilot episode sees middle-aged globe-trotting adventure journalist Jack Gordon (Joel McHale) learn that he must cut back on his field work in order to manage a team of young Twitter-obsessed employees. The head of the magazine “Roland” (Stephen Fry – a nice surprise) explains that the younger generation’s knowledge of social media and online content is the only thing keeping the company alive. Gordon is reluctant to accept this; lusting for “real” interaction and experience, not all this Tweeting nonsense.
This being the pilot episode, there is obviously a lot of clunky exposition necessary, so I don’t want to judge it too harshly just yet. With that said, let the judging commence.
The episode cleverly and amusingly lampoons the clash between Generations X and Y. It’s immediately obvious that this will be a running theme of the series. Generation X is portrayed as sociable and mindful in contrast with generation Y, which is shown as sensitive and glued to smartphones. As a member of the latter generation I can see a lot of unbiased truth in it; with a lot of humour to be drawn.
An unexpected face on a US sitcom, Stephen Fry’s portrayal of bumbling CEO Roland is as charming and brilliant as you’d expect. He swaggers around (Scotch in hand) naively attempting to maintain balance with the eccentric Jack Gordon, the narcissistic millennials and the fun-hating HR department. It’s hard to imagine anyone except Fry having the charisma to pull it off.
The writing is also rather charismatic and relevant. At one point in the episode Jack brings a bear cub into the office, and the millennials’ first reaction is to point their phone cameras at it. “No phones! We’re going to have a REAL experience!” he tells them… as they struggle to enjoy the moment without imagining the retweets. It’s an amusing premise for a sitcom that actually has some sound social commentary, but it does however feel like a running gag that could see the series becoming a one-trick pony if it isn’t careful.
Nevertheless The Great Indoors features an impressive supporting cast from the likes of Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kick Ass) and Chris Williams (Dodgeball) as well as the addition of Stephen Fry, which is likely to improve anything exponentially. It’s definitely one to try out and I look forward to seeing what it has to offer in the rest of the season.
The Great Indoors is on ITV2 on Mondays at 21.30.