Sometimes — for whatever reason — networks become fixated on one word. For FX a few years ago, it was “American” as American Horror Story, American Crime Story, and The Americans all aired at once. Netflix seems partial to “murder” if American Murder the Family Next Door, Murder Mystery, Murder Among the Mormons, Murder to Mercy, and Making a Murderer are any indication. As for HBO, your favorite home box office has been on a bit of a “generation” kick lately.
At the moment there are four separate HBO-branded projects with the word “generation” in their titles. The first to premiere was the Alexander Skarsgård-starring war series, Generation Kill. This trend leader shouldn’t be penalized for its love of the word. The seven-part miniseries premiered in 2008, over a decade ago. It was then followed by 2018’s Momentum Generation. This documentary followed an influential surfing collective that started as a group of teenagers in a small house in O’ahu. Two generations in 10 years? That’s nothing.
But then 2021 happened, and things changed.
March saw the premiere of Genera+ion, the Zelda and Daniel Barnz created and Lena Dunham executive produced series about Gen Z. Starring Justice Smith, the high school drama has become a sleeper hit for devoted fans largely due to its addictive romantic plots and its dedication to authentically portraying what it’s like to be a modern teen. The series even spawned its own official podcast, which is available to stream on HBO Max. Now, a month later, the streaming service is coming out with Generation Hustle.
Set to premiere on April 22, the 10-part docuseries covers one of the most exciting and under-explored subset of true crime: scammers. Each hourlong episode is dedicated to breaking down the scams, Ponzi schemes, and mind-blowing arrogance of 10 different people who got in over their heads. From the fake German heiress Anna Delvey who fooled much of New York to WeWork’s charismatic founder Adam Neumann, every episode will leave you asking yourself if these people are entrepreneurs or criminals.
By the way, Genera+ion and Generation Hustle are both HBO Max originals rather than HBO proper originals. That means out of the 32 originals the service has released since debuting a year ago, 6.25% of them have “generation” in the title. That feels like a lot of generational talk for one streamer.
What does all this mean? Who can say? Maybe HBO really identified with Hannah Horvath’s proclamation in Girls‘ first episode, and wants to be a voice of a generation. Maybe with so much television, picking a good name has become a battle in its own right. Maybe nowadays when you find a catchy word that seems underutilized, you double down. Maybe (probably) it means absolutely nothing. After all, the word “generation” accurately reflects every one of these projects. Regardless? Welcome to the Generation generation of HBO.
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