The ‘Jeriatrics’: How Baby Boomers are Saving ‘Jericho’

In May of 2007, CBS’ drama series ‘Jericho’ was canceled, and fans across North America weren’t happy about it. Their response took the form of a campaign to send peanuts to CBS (Referencing a line in the season’s final episode), and to spread their word through the modern communications methods available on the internet. It may be somewhat surprising, then, that these were not all twenty-something internet users who helped save this beloved series. In fact, some of them would be old enough to be their grandparents.

These viewers are not part of targeted advertiser’s demographics, and they certainly aren’t what people would expect when they picture someone who posts on internet message boards. These Baby Boomers are not just large in numbers: they also believe that they, too, can make a difference. They might not fully grasp MySpace or Facebook, but that doesn’t keep them from making their voice heard.

“You know what they say,” Jericho viewer Sharon Tomlinson, 53, writes, “60 is the new 40. It is a mistake for TV networks and advertisers to think that our age group is irrelevant.” There is no question that networks are not actively seeking out older viewers; one of CBS’ shows for next season is Swingtown, a drama about a suburban community of swingers. While there is an audience for that type of programming, it isn’t what viewers like Sharon are looking for.

They were looking for a show like Jericho, which according to Nielsen ratings struggled to engage younger viewers late in its season. However, it didn’t have any trouble pulling in viewers outside of that 18-49 demographic privileged by advertisers, if the events that followed are any indication. When the show was canceled in May, many of those most devoted to the cause were not internet-savvy youngsters, but rather boomers hoping to save something they cared about.

On the Jericho message boards, user GaTravelGal recently created the Jeriatric Boomers War, a thread where users can reminisce about the past and help each other in learning new tools to fight for Jericho’s success.

“I started this thread because I felt like my voice and other’s my age should be heard, that what we wanted should matter,” she writes. That message board post has exploded to over 600 posts in just a week and a half. It has become a way for these dozens of older viewers, who descended to the boards after the show was canceled to speak their mind, to share ideas and memories.

In this internet age, fandom has taken on new forms of fan fiction, message board communities, and YouTube tribute videos. At the heart of it all there needs to be a love of a show. No matter one’s opinion on Jericho, it is clear that these boomers and the rest of the show’s fans are devoted; however, it was the boomers who were able to play an important and central role in the proceedings.

“[We were] the level heads that kept the campaign going in a civilize manner,” writes Teresa, a viewer from Delaware. After learning of the cancellation, she logged onto CBS.com and found hundreds of like minds hoping to save one of her favourite programs. She even started telling her friends and family, trying to pull them in for the cause.

“Some said I was crazy and some jumped in and helped,” Sharon recollects. This type of devotion was not uncommon: as Jericho fans began to bond together by sending nuts to CBS en masse (Over 20 tonnes of nuts were sent), more and more fans began to organize. And, at the center of this organization, the boomers were beginning to make themselves heard.

“We were educated, diligent, patient and understood the principles of corporate business,” Teresa continues. It was these qualities that allowed the campaign to persist, and eventually become successful. The show was saved by CBS in early June, when they committed to seven new episodes to air sometime next year.

But the battle isn’t over yet, a fact that the Jericho boomers appear to realize more than some of the campaign’s younger supporters. They’re banding together, chatting about fond memories of earlier years and bonding as a unique section of the television viewing population. And, as a result, they’re the ones still fighting to make sure their show can continue.

“We are a formidable force to this day,” writes a user by the name of Alpha99Wolf. “Learning how to use chat rooms, blog sites, etc. is bringing us up to speed with the preferred demographics in that respect. We changed history before in profound ways, and we have the power and discipline to do it again.” And this is becoming more common: boomers are beginning to embrace internet sites such as YouTube or Facebook as ways of communicating their messages.

While CBS was once likely the most boomer-friendly network, increased pressure from other networks have taken them away from that path.

“I think CBS has valued us for many years,” Alpha99Wolf explains, “but now due to pressure from other networks they feel that they have to change the status quo and appeal to a younger demographic, leaving baby boomers behind.” And yet, it seems as if it is the baby boomers that are sticking around. After Jericho was brought back to life, a majority of those who sent nuts or made phone calls appear to have disappeared into the carefree summer months.

But the boomers remain some of the most loyal, perhaps less distracted by passing phenomenon and more likely to keep their attention on a single cause. After Jericho was successful in gaining a seven-episode second season, many of the campaign’s supporters disappeared from Jericho’s message boards and stopped supporting the series actively. This was not the case for the boomers, as their involvement has increased since the renewal. It seems that it is the boomers who are most loyal to their cause, and are hoping to keep their show alive for many seasons to come.

For Susan Davis, 46, this battle to save Jericho echoes her life experience living in Washington D.C.

“As a boomer who grew up in the DC area, I was active in more protests than I can remember. Had we simply decided that one battle won was reason to put down the signs and stop the marching there would be many true victories that would have never happened.”

“The protest is long from over,” Susan says. “Everyone needs to pick up their signs, put on their marching boots and, evidently, start hitting the net with all the passion we had a month ago.”

The boomers are a powerful force, large in number and large in experience. However, we always sort of assume that they will be a powerful force in things other than technology or entertainment; the idea of the baby boomers bringing back a TV show through an internet campaign would have seemed impossible three months ago.

And now it’s time to see whether anyone takes notice of their contribution to this landmark campaign. With younger demographics more and more desirable, is there a place for the Jeriatrics in the minds of advertisers or networks?

“Why they feel that after a person reaches a certain age that they are no longer the “target viewers” is beyond my comprehension,” Susan writes, reflecting what really is the question that these Jericho-loving boomers are forcing onto CBS and other networks. They have proven to be intensely loyal fans who, even if not entirely technologically aware, have been willing to learn and adapt to a new era of protest.

What’s next for the Jeriatrics? They’ll be telling friends about Jericho, and crowding around their TV sets every Friday night, when CBS is rerunning Jericho’s first season at 9pm EDT. And if anyone thinks that they’re going to be backing down any time soon, I think they’ve got one word for you.

“Nuts.”

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21 Comments

Filed under Jericho, Television

21 responses to “The ‘Jeriatrics’: How Baby Boomers are Saving ‘Jericho’

  1. Fantastic article. As a Boomer I join with others who love Jericho in saying that we continue to want to count as a viewer to CBS. Maybe they think 18-49 is where the buyers are but they are eliminating a huge group of us. Who has kept Price Is Right so popular over the years? We don’t just buy walkers and Depends- we buy a lot of big ticket items.
    BTW, we aren’t a group that ever gives up.

  2. Sigmagoose

    What a wonderful article! CBS are you listening! It is not just about the 18-49 age demographic! Jericho is a show that has something for everyone! Although I am in that demographic that CBS wants, I agree with the first poster that the older generation is just as involved and passionate about what goes on in their daily lives and have more buying power than what the average 18 year old does! Keep up the good work!

  3. SaveJake

    Great article…thank you very much! I am a “Boomer” and I had to laugh when I read “the older generation”. It’s funny ’cause there is always an older generation…I just never thought of myself as part of it!!! Okay so now I will except it only when it comes to Jericho and be proud of it…
    Long Live Jericho

  4. Auntvonna

    You know, it amazes me that the networks blow off this demographic! First of all, the # of boomers is staggering, secondly, they aren’t struggling right out of school (the 18-20 somethings) or providing for a family any longer (30-40 somethings), so this demographic is the one with the most disposable income, IMO. Yes, those on the older end of the boomer demographic may be on fixed incomes, but most of them aren’t making mortgage payments anymore either (I’m thinking of my parents as examples, they have money to spend and spend it, and they are in their mid 60′s). Why don’t advertisers get that? Also, that demographic tends to make time to watch their favorite programs live, because they aren’t juggling the amount of demands (typically) that younger viewers are, not to say that they aren’t active, they just have more flexibilty. The fact the that age group is also more and more technologically saavy (my parents are two examples of that also!) makes them a force to be reckoned with indeed. Excellent article! While I’m not in that demographic myself, I certainly agree with all the points you made.

  5. ka4ist

    Excellent work folks. VERY well done. Although maybe not a boomer in age, my thoughts, interests and concerns parallel those I see cited in the article. Looking for good things out of you guys and hope to be able to contribute the best I can. THANKS!

  6. Debby Balcer

    I am a boomer but also fit into the age demographic that CBS wants but only for another year. I think advertisers do need to realize that Boomers have more disposible income than younger people do. So if you have a good product and advertise it we can afford to buy it. Yes we are discerning about how we spend our money but we do have spending power. Jericho heartens back to a time when TV made you think that is what drew me to it. My 23 year old daughter is now a fan. Thanks to the internet she can watch all the episodes onlne and I am the one who told her about it. We do use the iternet and use it well. So CBS and all other networks if you want an audience who is loyal program good TV and we will watch and spread the word.

  7. Susan Davis

    Thank you for such a wonderful article. I hope that CBS as well as all networks and sponsors are paying attention. As Debby and Auntvonna said we, as boomers, really do have much more of a disposable income. Pushing us to the side in considerations could be a fatal mistake on their part. it is never a good policy to ignore and alienate any of your potential consumer base. Especially one that is this large in numbers and yes, still quite vocal and proactive in all things that we are passionate about.

  8. flagtag

    Thank you for the article. I am a 57 yo boomer and proud of it! What the networks and sponsors may not realize is that we buy many of the products advertised for ourselves and for the younger generations. We are of the “Duck and Cover” generation and are more able to relate to a program like JERICHO. The younger age group probably don’t even really know about the Cold War era so probably don’t “connect” as well with the topic of JERICHO. We have more options on what we spend our money on and have the means to do so. Great article. Thanks again.

  9. Adriana Santini

    Thank you for the thread and for the article, it’s been fun seeing how many people my age are into this. As for buying power, we have the money, we make the buying decisions for entire households as as another Jeriatric said, often for 3 or 4 generations. CBS and other networks need to adjust their view of what is a “desirable” demographic. We’re not sittin’ in rocking chairs anymore, we ride Harleys!

  10. Marlene Nice

    With my reading glasses firmly afixed to my nose, I thank you for the great article.

    I don’t know if 60 is the new 40 or not, but I’m in the boomer age range and I’m active and involved in things our parents would have considered to be “too young”. I use a computer at work and have had one at home for probably 15 years. I have a lot more disposible income than my son, who is in the target demographic.

    We’re also the generation that can remember drills in school where we hid under our desks in case of nuclear attack so I think we’ve probably spent more time than the current desired demographic wondering what our lives would be like if somebody actually dropped the bomb.

  11. Alpha99wolf

    Outstanding article that encompasses the essence of the Boomer+ generation. Networks & Sponsors – please take note. Boomers = Bucks. Referencing Johnston Green: “I may be unemployed, but I’m not obsolete.” Many boomers are still employed, some retired. We are not silent, we love Jericho, & we appreciate the younger folks who are assisting us with learning the latest tech venues. By the way, Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Ladd, Kate Jackson, Jacklyn Smith are also Boomers. Like a fine wine, we only get better with age, and our spirit is strong.

  12. nightbird47

    Wonderful story. We of the generation that remembers the Cuban Missle Crisis had a real dose of impending nuclear war. Jericho makes us remember and wonder again. Good point about the Boomers who are retired. I don’t have a huge amount of money, but don’t have a huge amount of bills either. Jericho has given me a place to use my mind and converse with others who do the same. 55 and retired on disability.

  13. PhillyPhan

    Very nice article. As a Boomer, I would like CBS to also realize that it was the Boomer generation that gave the PC and the related software to the world! The first computer I ever saw took an entire room to house and used IBM punch cards — like Brainiac in the Catherine Hepburn movie! I have used the PC since it was first introduced and plopped on my desk at work; working my way through DOS up to the present day. I used the very first “version” of the internet called “Prodigy.” I was on the Board prior to the Save Campaign. Prior to Jericho, I was on the Lost boards which is why I googled to find Jericho. I read my news on the internet; I SHOP on the internet (hint to advertisers) Not every Boomer is Les Moonves!!

    It is NOT about age; it is about your life experience. If your job did not require you to use the computer it is new to you and like anything new, you need to learn it and practice it. Sure the kids are already there. Just like we were more interested in TV than our parents.

    Regarding the Neilsens and why they don’t count the Boomers — the model used goes back to the advent of TV– the 1950s when we were children. They based the present day model on our parents’ spending habits and have never changed it!

    CBS cannot just decided, alone, to disregard the industry standard of measuring ratings. They must use the system that is used by all the networks. It is the advertisers that insist on this system.

    The advertisers need to realize that Boomers have a TREMENDOUS spending power; they need to address that advertising to us. Some get it. Have you noticed the increase in advertising for glasses? Why because the largest generation out there is now needing glasses! But this advertising is mainly in the print media. The advertising industry needs to “get it” and put pressure on Neilsens to change the model of measure.

    Boomers need to put pressure on advertisers. Anyone know out AARP feels about this issue?

  14. dinodharma

    Great article. But have to say that my parents (boomers) look younger than photo shown on article. Photo looks more like my grandparents who are in their 80′s. I learned a lot from my parents & they learned a lot about the computer from work & from me. I teach high school kids now & realize how integral the boomer generation has been in changing history. They are smart, young, vibrant and involved. Their dedication to a cause is what makes them stand out. Most people think my parents are 20 years younger than their actual age.

  15. embersong

    Loved the article, and do so appreciate being acknowledged in everyway available to us boomers. Would like to have seen a photo more representative of us, however. As someone already said “60 is the new 40.” This couple looks more like my parents’ generation now. And my mom, in her 70′s, actually looks younger than the lady in the photo. A picture is still worth a thousand, you know…would like to have seen someone more like Johnston and Gail Greene. Otherwise, great article.

  16. I concur, but I admittedly took the first picture that Google offered me that could be easily photoshopped.

    If someone has an image that might suit it better, please let me know! I’m more than happy to oblige! Heh.

  17. China

    I would like to point out that jeriatrics is spelled with a “G” and is spelled Geriatrics. Also, since when did 54 mean Geriatrics? The word means to be old and I am in no way old. I have just begun. If you’d like to call me a baby boomer, that is okay. It’s a person born during a baby boom, esp. one born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1965. I guess that would be me, but stop with the Geriatic word for a baby boomer. We are not old yet and definitely not a Geriatic.

  18. The use of “Jeriatric” is a pun on older viewers who watch Jericho. I am well aware that baby boomers are not geriatric.

  19. I guess I’m a Jeriatric as I love Jericho but I’m also 65. Besides the skillfully woven plot, I love Gerald McRaney. I know he’s ONLY 60 but is it because he’s an admirable, intelligent character that “does us proud”?

    I’m not a boomer but my generation, those of us born between 1942-1946, are being pretty much ignored and we are the ones who began turning 65 this year. But whether you’re in my generation or a boomer, advertisers and media outlets have told me that they’re not interested in my demographic. Why have they told me? Because I’m the author of “ReFIRED not Retired…reignite your zest for life” and this article confirms what I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall about. The Jericho Jeriatric phenomen makes my point perfectly.

    I’ve loved the last few Friday nights and can’t wait until the new season. Thank you CBS and thank you to other Jeriatrics. You might want to check out my website for “refired” merchandise at http://www.refiredretired.com.

  20. Excellant work on this article! It is very well written and right to the point. I too love Jericho but I am not the “targeted” age group. I am under 18 but still actively envolved with various Jericho forums, as well as being one of the proud Jericho Rangers in Florida. The fans of Jericho are so diverse agewise that it is good to see older leaders stepping to the plate and organizing some of our efforts. I am also happy to see that other people are noticing the show for the first time through articles like this.

  21. Pingback: Jericho May Return As a Theatrical Movie | /Film

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