Preview: Betty White's Off Their Rockers

By Louis Peitzman

Jan 17, 2012

Hidden-camera comedy is an established form: Ever since Candid Camera, TV has tried to outdo itself with new gimmicks. Punk’d played pranks on unsuspecting celebrity targets. Scare Tactics put a supernatural spin on things. Now Betty White is jumping into the fray with Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, a series that sees senior citizens pranking much younger marks.

White recently shared breakfast with attendees of the Television Critics Association press tour to tease the new NBC series.

“I think the angle or the strategy of this show is that it’s the seniors pranking the younger people,” White explained. “Instead of [the seniors as] the poor ones being taken advantage of, don’t sell them short. They’re just hip enough and maybe mean enough to want to get even.”

The producers of Off Their Rockers have assembled a team of agile seniors to play tricks on the show's youthful targets.

“They found these people who enjoyed kind of playing along with the gag,” White remarked.

White took care to point out that the comedy of Off Their Rockers is never mean-spirited. Sure, hidden-camera shows rely on making a fool of their subjects, but White insisted that the humor will remain well-intentioned. That can be tough when runaway wheelchairs are wreaking havoc, but White believes the show can pull it off.

“Things aren’t funny if it’s mean spirited,” she reflected. “It’s not that kind of a show. It’s just a silly, fun show, and I think one that will appeal to all ages, because younger people might get a kick out of seeing the oldsters get a jump on somebody, and oldsters might see it and say, ‘Hey, go get ‘em!’”

Though she’s not heavily involved in the production of Off Their Rockers, White remains one of the hardest-working women in Hollywood. Her accomplishments would be impressive even if she weren’t well past what some would consider retirement age—she turns 90 on Tuesday.

“Who at this age is lucky enough to working as much as I am?” White asked. “First of all, on a series that I absolutely love [Hot in Cleveland] with three of the most wonderful gals that ever drew breath.”

In the last few years she’s also published two books, hosted Saturday Night Live, appeared in films, and continued to do work for many charitable causes.

“I’m not only blessed with good health, but good energy,” White said. “I’m just at one of those good times in your life, and there’s been so many of those through those 90 years, but I’m at one of the high spots. I’m healthy enough to enjoy it. I’m surrounded by friends I adore. Isn’t that kind of the best way to sign off?”

And with Off Their Rockers, White continues to spread her message—that getting older doesn’t mean getting less funny. This is a series where the senior citizens are the ones who are in on the jokes.

“I think it’s just kind of a reverse psychology of the poor old senior,” White said. “It’s, ‘Hey, we’ve got a sense of humor, too, warped as it may be.’”

Betty White’s Off Their Rockers airs a special preview episode tonight at 9:30pm on NBC, after Betty White's 90th Birthday Special.

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  • CARRVATX May 04, 2012

    Was disapointed in this, this is not a show you can see with your family with young children, it should not be on primetime. i saw this with my grandkids for the frist time the other night a 11 yearold boy and 8 yearold girl and the sex talk was to much and then an older lady on the show walks up to a young men and ask him if he wents to get layed with him at a hotel.i dont understand had to turn it off and have a talk with my grandkids. will never turn this on again. most of it was nasty and mean!

  • JoeKier Jul 24, 2012

    Then why would you even let them watch it with you keep them away from that show it doesnt matter you can still watch it with out them being there those are just excuses

  • Georgiagirl52 Jan 24, 2012

    This show is terrific! I find it amazing how someone who can sit through shows like "The Bad Girls Club", or "Flavor of Love" or "Real Housewives from Anywhere" could even begin to realize what funny is.....gee Betty, take note....My guess is the junk on TV now won't last 60-70 years and I doubt ANY of their cast members will either! Do you think Snookie and the Situation will be have a TV 90th birthday? Best of luck Betty-and NBC give us all a break and keep this great show on the air!

  • 626blue Feb 28, 2013

    I agree.I usually watch MSMBC - Its a pleasure watching this show. So funny. Keeps your mind of the gloom and doom for a while.

  • skyermay00 Jan 18, 2012

    It amuses me that the "tattoo artist" is a pretty boy actor with fake tattoos splotched everywhere. Also this show made me very uncomfortable and embarrassed for the old people. I understand the concept of the show but I think it only served to perpetuate the crazy old person stereotype. I think if it allowed the viewers to see the actors reveal to those being pranked that they are on TV (a la: smile your on Candid Camera) it would really serve the purpose of the show better. Otherwise it feels more like a sketch comedy routine making fun of old people rather than old people sticking up for themselves. That's always my favorite part anyway when they can all laugh together after realizing they've been fooled.

  • 626blue Feb 28, 2013

    skyermayoo - I didn't take it that way. These folks were just having fun planking the
    the young folks.

  • 626blue Feb 28, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

  • 626blue Feb 28, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

  • JoeKier Jul 24, 2012

    you suck you have no clue what your talking about sooo if i were you dont even talk or type again and leave your comments to your self!

  • IndianaMom Jan 18, 2012

    I loved the birthday celebration for Betty, but this show, which followed, didn't seem worth my time.

  • JoeKier Jul 24, 2012

    its worth it you just dont think before you type!

  • bluemystique Jan 18, 2012

    If I'm half as spunky and awesome at 90 as Betty White it'd be a great thing. That woman can literally do no wrong in my book.

  • JeffryWoo Jan 17, 2012

    I believe this is correct. I also believe this is the kind of plan that we are likley to end up with, though somewhat less generous as it will be forced on us by our creditors who won't give a hair about healthcare for seniors and the needy. Read "Penny Medical" articles if you dont have insurance.

  • Writerpatrick Jan 17, 2012

    This is really going to draw that coveted 18-49 age group. :)

  • MonaDeiterman Jan 17, 2012

    Very Funny!