The New York Times previews a new PBS documentary, "The Boomer Century: 1946 – 2046," which premieres tonight.

Hosted by Ken Dychtwald, a gerontologist and psychologist, the documentary, writes Felicia R. Lee, "explores how life after 60 might look to the generation known for
challenging authority and redefining everything from race relations to
marriage."

Questions are posed "to a raft of experts and commentators in health, academe, politics and the arts: a crowd that includes Tony Snow, Erica Jong, Julian Bond, J. Craig Venter, Oliver Stone and Alvin Toffler, among others." Lee continues:

Mr. Snow, the White House press secretary, who was born in 1955, recalls growing up in a neighborhood where people came over to borrow that proverbial cup of sugar. "There were fewer than half as many people in the United States as there are today," Mr. Snow says of his childhood years. "It was a much smaller country, and therefore I think it was at least easier to maintain that kind of small sense of community."

Lest anyone get too nostalgic for that mom in pearls and apron, sugar bowl in hand, Mr. Bond, the chairman of the N.A.A.C.P., reminds viewers that the discrimination of the ’50s and ’60s meant it was not a great time to be black. "Television created a kind of aspiration of what could be," Mr. Bond says. "So this medium did an enormous job in both creating aspiration and demonstrating how far you were from that aspiration."

Ms. Jong, whose books, like "Fear of Flying," documented the sexual revolution and the feminist movement, observes, "You have to see the boomer generation in opposition to the Depression generation, or you really can’t understand it at all." She continues, "Lot of confidence, a lot of beans, a lot of ‘I can do it — anything.’ That’s the boomer generation."

Ms. Jong, who turned 65 yesterday, adds that one of the gifts of the baby-boomer feminists was to men. "We made it mainstream for men to parent," she says.

Cathy Hamilton, editor of the new site BoomerGirl.com and columnist for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World, recommends it:

By spotlighting the defining moments of boomer history, the film illustrates how these key events contributed to our generation’s tendencies toward idealism, self-empowerment, anti-authoritarianism and willingness to embrace change. Those characteristics, combined with our overpowering numbers, mean that we continue to influence and affect society as we move through every stage of life.

Check here for local PBS listings.

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