We’re taught to laugh with older people, not at them – but this group wants you to have a giggle at their expense.
Older people have begun garnering attention on social media, particularly TikTok, as videos receive millions of views. This is no different for the crew at Retirement House – an aspiring TV conception following six older aspiring “content creators” living in a big Hollywood mansion.
“We’re your new grandparents,” reads the caption on Retirement House’s first TikTok video, offering their audience the opportunity to build a virtual bond with a fun older person.
The semi-scripted TikTok show was created by Los Angeles creatives Brandon Chase, 25, and Adi Azran, 27, in September 2021 after seeing only a handful of “grandfluencers” (older social media influencers) were gaining traction and attention on social media.
A casting call was made to find their actors and thus, Retirement House was born – pulling in millions of views and followers across all social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
While these characters don’t actually live in the mansion or behave in these ways, clips show characters Larry, Curtis, Mabel, Eugene, Rose and Bubbe – who are in their 70s and 80s – playing viral pranks, offering advice, singing and dancing or generally cracking jokes to showcase that age is just a number.
in a silly goofy mood 😆
Mr Chase and Mr Azran intended for the show to be fully scripted but realised the real gold came from their actors’ input. They hope Retirement House helps society re-evaluate age, particularly in the entertainment space which consistently ignores and demonises older demographics.
“It’s kind of out of the norm for [older people] to be creating content on a platform with all these young people […] The dynamic of us being young with these older people and hanging out spending a lot of time with them has really been cool,” Mr Azran told New York Post.
if we had our own reality show
The six actors have varying degrees of experience as performers and said they didn’t know anything about TikTok before they started the series but now they are elated with their new social media gig. For many, Retirement House was their big break.
Monterey Morrissey a 71-year-old from San Francisco plays the rap-loving Larry who loves hearing positive feedback from the videos and making people laugh. Monterey and his wife moved to Los Angeles after their home was affected by two wildfires and having tried his hand at radio theatre and voiceover work in the past, he auditioned for the Retirement House role despite fears he wouldn’t be seen as a serious actor.
“I figured — hey, my phone’s not hanging off the hook here — I’ll give it a shot,” he told Buzzfeed News.
85-year-old Gaylynn Baker, who plays Mabel, wanted to be a star since her doctors recommended she take up performing to overcome a speech impediment as a child. When she dipped her toe into the waters of Hollywood, she realised the realities weren’t for her so she dabbled in documentary production and writing after her two children grew up.
Now, she’s scored her dream acting role after all.
“I come into work and laugh all day long. I just can’t stop laughing,” she also told Buzzfeed News.
“We’re changing people’s minds about what it means to age by having fun […] I don’t know how much longer I’ll be on this planet, but I hope I’ll always be having this much fun.”
The Retirement House creators are already transferring the channel’s success into longer-form content like the Retirement House podcast but the team would ideally love their videos to be turned into a proper television show.