Hacks and Demographic Astrology
I’ve enjoyed Hacks. Jean Smart is so fucking good, she could read the phone book and people would watch her. She’s got Robert Duvall’s understatedness, which makes her dramatic moments really pop. But there are a couple of moments in the series which reveal the dramatic limits of the sitcom as a genre.The tragic hook-up encounter falls flat. Ava’s character is a little one-dimensional, but that’s kind of the point, I think. And a 25 year old in 2021 is a FUCKING MILLENNIAL, NOT GEN Z. 1982–2000! Ava is a 下 (Xià) Millennial.
In the Demographic Astrology that is The Generation Game, there are hard lines and I’ve written about them elsewhere. One of the concepts that I want to introduce is the 上 (Shàng)/下 nature of the Generations. Each generation is 18 years long, but since the one thing that makes this Generational Change thing ring true is technological change, it’s kind of silly to lump people who listened to Sam Cooke or the Beatles on a transistor radio with people who listened to Zeppelin/Marvin Gaye on an 8-track. But 7/1/1946 to 6/30/1964 is the boundary of the Baby Boomer Generation as defined by the US Census Bureau.
I’m adding a granular change to this grouping. Within the large 18 year cohort, there is a smaller 9 year cohort that more or less experiences change the same as their classmates, but different from their larger grouping. So, the 1946–1955 group all kind of experienced technological change the same. The 1955–1964 group experienced their change similarly (as well as catergorically being too young to get drafted into the Vietnam War). Let us call the older 9 year subcohort of any 18 Year Generation, the 上 or Upper _______. So, a person born in 1950 would be an Upper Boomer. A Person born in 1961, like Obama, would be a 下 or Lower Boomer. (Upper and Lower because Top and Bottom were already taken. Or did they willingly go? hehehehe.)
I am a 1978 Gen X’er. I am in the Carter Cohort — those of us born under Jimmy Carter’s Administration. We are the most fabulous of Demographic Astrological Groups, simply because we also spent our late teens and twenties in the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. Don’t pee on my back and tell me that trappy mumble rap is raining. Other reasons we’re great? We are bitechnical. We are comfortable in analog and digital worlds. We played outside as children. We are mostly not drowning in student loan debt. (Unless you were a mediocre history undergrad who got a 2.5 GPA at a Tier III law school. And then you’re fucked.) And finally, cuz I said so.
For Gen X, the boundaries of the cohort are 7/1/64–6/30/82. So, the Upper Gen X is 1964–1973. The Lower Gen X is 1973–1982. For Millennials, Upper is 1982–1991, Lower is 1991–2000. What ends up happening is that the Upper is in their 30s, while the lower is in their 20s. There’s another issue here about being in your 40s versus 30s versus 20s and experiencing culture, but that is outside the scope of this article.
To bring it back to Hacks, Jean Smart/Deborah Vance was born in 1951. What Boomer is she? Hannah Einbinder was born in 1995. What Millennial is she?