Workaholics and Delayed Adolescence
Workaholics is a Comedy Central sitcom that first aired in 2011 and has become an increasingly popular show, now in its fourth season with a fifth ordered to be filmed. The show revolves around three best friends: Blake, Adam and Ders, and has to do with the three characters transitioning from college life into the real world after their dropout from college. Their transition is a rather slow process, as the characters are commonly shown doing things associated with college life like drinking, partying and pulling pranks. The show relates to my generation and the current generation of college students in many ways, specifically in the way Comedy Central uses social media to take the show from a weekly-aired program to a popular household name. It also brings significance to the current reality many college kids face after they graduate. Although the show is designed as a raunchy comedy, its underlying message can still relate to our culture and generation.
Social media is increasingly present and has had an enormous impact on our society. Workaholics is one of the first shows to utilize that concept into marketing their show. Part of what makes the show so popular is their endless pop culture references and reoccurring catch phrases. Workaholics integrate these reoccurring phrases into Twitter hashtags that are specific to a given episode. All three of the main characters, who are also the executive producers, have large followings on Twitter (Blake 775K, Adam 624K, Ders 519K) and interact with fans by tweeting out information about the upcoming episode each week, and also live tweeting during episodes. The show itself has its own account and has 278 thousand followers on Twitter and 1.1 million fans on their Facebook page, both of which are updated weekly at minimum. Their Twitter account tweets the show’s most popular catch phrases and one-liners, which keeps the show popular and easily referenced among its followers. One example is the #GETWEIRD hashtag, which is one of their most popular catch phrases. Blake, Adam and Ders, who are the creators as well as main stars of the show live by this GETWEIRD mantra, realizing that often there is no line between funny and stupid, so they take care not to let the weird get killed off during their process (Wilson). And indeed, their process seems to be working. By utilizing social media and their large popularity on this platform, Workaholics has been able to connect with fans of our generation in a way that most shows aren’t able to because of the attention the show garners outside of its Wednesday night timeslot.
Another significant way the show relates to our generation is through the way it represents real life conflicts and situations and how viewers can identify with the situations happening in any given episode. Viewers rarely get the sense that they’ve seen a certain episode play out before because of the sharp writing and unexpected plot twists (Wilson). The show represents a growing trend in our culture and society, relating to the concept of delayed adolescence. According to Dr. Arnett, in the past half century what most people experience during the years from age eighteen to twenty-nine has changed dramatically in industrialized societies. Instead of entering marriage and parenthood in their very early twenties, most people now postpone these transitions until at least their late twenties, and spend their late teens through their mid-twenties in self-focused exploration as they try out different possibilities in love and work (Arnett). Workaholics allows people that fall into this category to relate to some of the situations they are going through in terms of transitioning from college to the real world. Further, not only do viewers relate to the show’s three main characters, there seems to be a magnetic force drawing young males towards a life of delayed adolescence and away from the stereotypical white picket fence marriage, which is what the show portrays.
After its third season ran during the summer of 2012, Workaholics averaged 2 million total viewers and was the highest rated timeslot across all television among men ages 18-24 (Workaholics). The show and it’s producers have created an almost cult following among men in this age group because it directly relates to the things these young men are going through. Not just men either, but all people in this age group can relate to some of the things that take place in Workaholics. According to The Arizona State University Press, everyone can relate to worrying about one of your best friends moving out (Season 1, Episode 9), feeling nervous around the hot new co-worker (Season 2, Episode 3), or pretending to be something your not in order to appear more successful around your parents (Season 3, Episode 6). These issues come off as being comical and raunchy on the surface of the show’s plotline, but viewers can really identify with what the characters are going through with their own real life issues.
While Workaholics has had many impacts on our generation, with further seasons still waiting to be filmed, it will prove interesting to see how the show and it’s portrayal of delayed adolescence further impacts young males and their outlook on post college life. With today’s society yielding less marriages and far less successful marriages then had once occurred, delayed adolescence and it’s prominence through television and social media may in fact be a factor.
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