The Bubble: Inside Boomer Paradise

The Bubble: Inside Boomer Paradise

2022, Society  -   9 Comments
9.11
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Ratings: 9.11/10 from 9 users.

The state of Florida is America's most popular and sought-after retirement destination, so much so that there are now numerous retirement communities all over the state. Almost 20% of Florida residents are retirees over 65, and their numbers continue to grow. Many more people are choosing to retire early, ready to enjoy their lives away from the pressures of work and establishing careers.

Vice's documentary "The Bubble" is about The Villages, the largest retirement community in Florida and all over the United States. It follows six retirees currently living in The Villages and examines what life is like living out their golden years within this exclusive community. From its humble beginning as a trailer park with a handful of residents in the 70s, The Villages now have over 150,000 residents living in an area larger than Manhattan and is also America's fastest-growing metro area.

The Villages offer senior citizens an idyllic retirement paradise. It is a master-planned development for the affluent retiree that provides not only homes but also swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, restaurants, bars, supermarkets, and even a world-class hospital. However, you won't find a funeral home because this would be an unwelcome reminder of reality. Many activities are available, including dancing, cardio drumming, Tai chi, karaoke and more. They have their own newspaper and radio station, a FOX News affiliate, no less.

Living here is unique because it is an "age-restricted" community; only seniors are allowed. And though they may be old, with some feeling the usual infirmities of being elderly, these golf-cart-driving seniors are finally ready to party hard. They now put themselves first after years of working and sacrifice. There is so much to do that many don't even have time for families to visit! It seems like a wonderful place, devoid of the usual loneliness and ageist prejudices many older people feel in today's society.

But then, on the flip side, and in this case literally the other side of the fence, the Villages brings some rather uncomfortable realities. Rapid development has taken over as the community expands, giving original residents a hard time, with many just deciding to sell. What was once pastures and bucolic countryside is now a network of pastel cookie-cutter homes devoid of nature of any kind.

And while the”inmates” of The Villages are happily retired in their self-proclaimed "bubble", residents from the surrounding counties are anxious as public roads are now gated, they consume too much water, and now have a growing amount of regional control. The residents are also almost 100% white Republicans, many members of the NRA and passionate Trump supporters, and though not explicitly expressed, the vibe is they'd like to keep it that way. They also don't appreciate criticism against their community.

"The Villages" is a fascinating study of how ageism, family, sociopolitical issues, and the basic human need for community intersect and collide.

Directed by: Valerie Blankenbyl

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9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. dadeer

    "We with deep history here do not love the transplants."
    You don't look Seminole or Miccosukee, and you sound a lot worse than anyone Steve describes, Karen

  2. Sean Diggler

    "Once he had me on the table" has to sum it up.lol Crazy town.

  3. Sean Diggler

    Crazy Town, reminds me of the movie with Jim Carrey...The Trueman Show. Terrible sad to see old woods with all the diversity being ripped up for ....what, golf and a few drinks. Happiness dosn't come from the outside, my guess is that these people are no more or less happy than they were before, wherever.

  4. Mark

    I loved the 'epilogue' , for 50 minutes!, a very balanced and insightful discussion from the filmmaker. I liked that she said she would rather pose questions than give answers. And indeed the question remains, "If not here, then where, and how, should we live out our years?". I for one am super excited with life, at 70, thinking of how I might move to Newfoundland, or France, what I might write or paint, what improv theater I might do...It is quite true that we are now able to live more fully past 60 for sure. But she presents an honest curiosity and a sincere request that all of us look at our bubbles. How many outside of your age group do you actually interact with on a daily basis? And how do you look at 'old' people, or teens, or thirtysomethings... The best post-documentary interview I have heard.

  5. Tonttu

    This is a brilliant documentary. I suppose these people are having what they consider a good time, but I would be bored to tears. The life they have at the Villages is all take, no give. They don't know anyone outside their own neatly tied up group. They don't know the issues - actually, they isolated from knowing anything other than their own voices. They keep themselves aimlessly entertained to cover that they aren't really engaged in anything. They're separated from everything.
    Meanwhile, I'm the same age bracket but grow all my own food in a sustainable garden. I'm creating a small orchard for me now and for the future people who will live here. I put what energy I have behind anything that improves society or the environment and feel fulfilled in that. I don't get what's great about living for shallow entertainments.
    Great documentary. I liked that so much was included about the problems with water. It's a world-wide problem. The Villages story is a microcosm of the problem everywhere. Those who are isolated in their own artificial world and have no clue how the planet is in trouble.

  6. Kitty

    I can’t identify. with these kinds of peopIe. I see nothing in the world wrong with sitting on your porch in your older age. Maybe doing what gardening you can, taking walks, telling old stories to neighbor kids or even holding your cat on your lap as you doze in you recliner. We’ve lived, worked, loved and experienced all the ups and downs life has to give. We deserve a restful, peaceful retirement. Old people trying to act and look much younger always look silly/stupid, IMO.

    1. Sean Diggler

      No kidding......they seem not real to me. That church thing in the early part was, well...phony and mental to be polite.

  7. Steve C

    This is a wonderful documentary, perhaps I've seen in the past several years. The retirement community residents are indeed living in an isolated bubble and it appears that's exactly what they like about it. The glaring lack of diversity would be shocking in any other state but in Florida, I'm not at all surprised. So I guess the message is don't move there if you are not republican, are not white and if you care for the environment and the surrounding communities as much as your own home.

    1. Kayte

      Well said, Steve. We with deep history here do not love the transplants.