Born in 1973, I have, naturally, watched The Breakfast Club, Reality Bites and Ferris Bueller's Day Off many, many times. I remember when Beck first professed to being a "loser" and a blond Thom Yorke sang about being a "creep" and a "weirdo". I had a major crush on Winona Ryder, a minor one on Ethan Hawke, and the news of Kurt Cobain's death was as heartbreaking as John Lennon's was to my parents. Most importantly, I knew all the words to the theme tune to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I'm an apathetic baby buster, a cynic, a fully paid-up member of the lost generation. I am a Gen-Xer!
Alternative Goes Mainstream is the first episode in six-part documentary series X: The Generation That Changed The World (National Geographic Channel, Wednesday at 9pm) and delves into the events that shaped the slacker generation, which sat (quite literally, because we really couldn't be bothered to move all that far from the sofa) between the baby boomers and the millennials. Narrated by consummate Gen-Xer Christian Slater, and featuring archival footage and interviews with key players of and from the era - Courtney Love, Kevin Smith, Molly Ringwald and Julian Assange, among others - the series explores the social, political and cultural forces that influenced millions. From Pac-Man and punk to Watergate and WikiLeaks, the show demonstrates (in typical Americentrisms) that, as we ease ourselves into middle age, some of us are far more talented and innovative than we ever imagined. We have proved to be snarky slackers who together changed the world. Here we are now. Entertain us.
The heaven-sent honeyed tones of septuagenarian actor Morgan Freeman have given voice to a fictionalised president of the United States, narrated the journey of penguins and, more recently, guided drivers around countless town centres on satnav. In the film Bruce Almighty, and its drab sequel, Evan Almighty, Freeman was the voice of God, and tonight (at 10pm, on the National Geographic Channel) he continues his intimate reflection on the Almighty, as documentary series The Story of God asks, "Where did we come from?"
Freeman tells us that "Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions trace us all back to Adam and Eve", which means that the Garden of Eden doesn't just represent the beginning of humanity but also the beginning of our conversation with the Divine One. Finding out when and where that took place will tell us an awful lot about who we are, so off we go to Jerusalem, where Adam was buried and Jesus was crucified. It gets interesting when Freeman meets an archaeologist and starts picking at the contradictions in the Book of Genesis, but his intent is not to pooh-pooh the idea of religion.
Describing himself as a seeker, and not necessarily a believer, Freeman travels the world in search of answers to the deepest mysteries of existence, and his fascination with history and religion never comes across as preachy. Whether you believe in religious folk tales or the big-bang theory is almost irrelevant (yes, he does investigate the scientific explanation for creationism, along with the beliefs of many ancient and modern faiths), because Freeman is an engaging narrator with a voice so intoxicating, he could tell you that he'd just run over your dog and slept with your Gen X wife and you'd still feel gloriously contented.