With nearly one in six Americans now living in poverty and a growing number of young adults defaulting on their student loans, our entertainment media is starting to reflect the new normal. A new show on CBS, 2 Broke Girls, features two twentysomethings (Max and Caroline) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, trying to make it as waitresses. One has had to struggle her way through life and hasn’t been able to catch a financial break, while the other is the daughter of a (now) broke Bernie Madoff type. The premise is a far cry from popular New York-based shows of the ‘90s and ‘00s such as Friends and Sex in the City—where personal finance never took precedence over living it up in the city of dreams.
In hopes of navigating their way out of their plight, the girls decide to pool their resources—Max’s baking skills with Caroline’s business acumen—to launch a cupcake enterprise. All they need to do is raise $250,000. True to the Millennial ethos, these girls have their eyes set on a more lucrative future; while some have labeled them “generation limbo,” today’s twentysomthings are entrepreneurial and motivated to create their own jobs. Our AnxietyIndex research found that 25 percent of Americans aged 18-29 agreed that “If I lose/have trouble finding a job, I’ll just start my own business.” Indeed, Millennials are 120 percent more likely to be business owners without other workplace experience.
As we settle into the new normal, we’ll see more Max and Caroline types replacing the Carrie Bradshaws. Take Ben Epstein and Cam Calderon of HBO’s How to Make It in America, for instance—a reflection of how today’s youth are working to make ends meet and redefining what it takes to be “successful.”