At first glance, the idea of a reality show about the vibrant, still-randy residents of a retirement community sounds audacious given TV’s tyrannical emphasis on younger demographics. But any surprises in “Sunset Daze” — a WE series set in Surprise, Arizona — pretty much evaporate there, with over-aggressive casting of colorful “characters” and a busy assortment of “The Bucket List”-type activities. Mostly, these seniors demonstrate when it comes to shamelessly mugging for the cameras, retirees don’t possess any more restraint than their kids and grandkids.
Like any lazy reality offering, “Daze” immediately labels its occupants with tags like “The Matchmaker,” “The Ex-Nun” and “The Romeo.” Most are in their 60s and 70s, and they’re more than happy to board the “too much information” express right off the bat, such as Sandy (“The Wild Child”), who says if she can’t find a man, there’s always her “battery-operated boyfriend.” Later, she goes on a blind date with Dick, who confides that he’s been “trying to get into her pants” for years.
The revelation here, presumably, is those eligible for Medicare squabble, flirt and believe that “sex, like wine, gets better with age,” as we’re told at the outset. Yet none of this breaks new ground for anybody who has paid attention to demographic trends and the impact of a healthier, longer-living population.
As if unsure what to do with these folks, the producers send them on a dizzying barrage of outings — going sky diving, skeet shooting and hot-air ballooning all in the first half-hour of this 10-part series. Based on that trajectory, expect a Toga party somewhere around episode six.
The most interesting participant, actually, is one character’s son, who is part of the Arizona Gay Rodeo Assn. There’s got to be a Bravo version of that some time soon.
All told, the show feels like a missed opportunity. With so little on TV that dares to treat older folks like real people, it’s disappointing to see a program finally devoted to them that winds up being little more than cologne-wearing coots and horny grandmas.
As the curtain rises, “Sunset Daze” is filled with the possibility of depicting seniors in a more flattering (or at least somewhat different) light. By the time the premiere ends, the sun can’t set fast enough.