Thursday 22 March 2018

People in their 40s and older tell me they’re learning from 'How to Adult’, says Stefanie Preissner

Stefanie Preissner
Stefanie Preissner
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Stefanie Preissner's RTE web series 'How to Adult' is not just for millennials, she tells

Watching RTE's new web series 'How to Adult' as a woman approaching 40 with a mortgage, pension, and a child, it's a shock to realise quite how clueless I am about the ins and outs of said mortgage, pension, or even the latest info on sexual health.

I'm not the only one, according to series presenter and writer Stefanie Preissner.

"There’s that sort of presumption that you have your shit together when you reach whatever age," she says.  "But the producer of the documentary, a guy called Shane, he’s brilliant, he’s in his 40s, and the director is young, same age as me, and we were horrified as we were getting the information on sexual health stuff and mortgages, but he was equally horrified."

She adds, "The response has been brilliant.  It’s shocking, terrifying.  A lot of people are saying, 'I'm 48 and this has taught me things I didn’t know."

The series aims to educate the public on these issues as well as social media, the modern workplace, and fitness among others.  Ostensibly it's aimed at millennials.  But many Generation Xers and Baby Boomers could stand to learn a thing or two.

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Stefanie Preissner on the Late Late Show

It's not our fault.  Preissner (29) blames the institutions who have failed to adapt to the modern workforce and gig economy in which we currently live. 

"We're sort of portrayed as this kind of freelance, hippy, can't stop moving from one place to another, can't settle down liability because of that when actually mobile labour and all of those things are promoted and revered and supported in other countries," she says.

Speaking about mortgages, she says, "Let’s say I’ve moved on from the John B Keane era of ‘This is my field’.  I don’t have any interest in owning a house. If I was sure the rental structure was secure, if I was safe, the only reason to buy a house now is I know it can’t be taken from me at a moment’s notice.  And even then that’s not even secure.  People having houses taken away from them. 

"I think that if you get very tongue in cheek, on Masloe’s Hierarchy of Needs, security and knowing you’re safe, that’s below all the rest of those things we need."

While How to Adult might sound like the antithesis of humour, Preissner's approach is pretty light-hearted.  Viewers are likely to veer from shock to surprise to laughter.

"I suppose the point of the documentary was to say to people these are the facts and they're scary and somehow that’s reassuring," she says.

"It’s like coming up to the Leaving Cert and you have’t done any study and you resign yourself to the fact I can’t even achieve those points for medicine so I’m going to laugh it off.  I can’t possibly afford to be saving €25 a day to a pension, I can’t afford to pay back a mortgage, pay €200,000 to rent money to rent a house."

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Can't cope won't cope: Stefanie Preissner

It's not all doom and gloom. Through the course of the series the Cork woman learned she's "actually well on my way to a fit and healthy lifestyle" and "on a par with the WHO recommendations" among other positive revelations.

One of the funniest is her visit to a sexual health clinic in which she visibly recoils at some of the information she gleans from the doctor.

"We’ve moved on now slightly from Catholic Ireland and I don’t think young men any more are afraid or embarrassed to buy condoms which was a major barrier to sexual health in the 80s and 90s," she says.

"But now there are other barriers.  We’re equally ashamed to go and get tested even though promiscuity has risen, we’re having various sexual partners, and this big lifestyle change. 

'Your letter did hurt' - Copper Face Jacks replies to Stefanie Preissner's tongue-in-cheek letter accusing them of 'gaslighting' her with a gold card 


"Matt Cooper the other day said 'A job is not a condom'.  You have to take responsibility for yourself and other citizens you’re sleeping with.  Get checked because there are scary things like HPV and oral sex resulting in a rise in head and neck cancers - so scary.

"I don't think it's right or proper that at the age of 29 I'm getting this information for the first time. I thought I had my finger on the pulse.  I read up on things.  If I don't know it you can be guaranteed other people out there don't know it. 

"Like, cervical check is not an STI test.  And you should be doing it regularly. Being embarrassed is not an excuse for poor health practices."

'We wanted new faces and not the same few actors that had been around RTE' - Can't Cope, Won't Cope creator 

Preissner reveals she thought she was "being dramatic" by having STI testing.


"I remember when I was about 6 in Mallow and I took a half day to go to the dentist, and I remember the mother of a friend of mine looking at me, ‘oh, going to the dentist’.  Notions. It's like going to see a consultant dermatologist.  You're looked upon like you're a hypochondriac."

Going forward Preissner hopes to tackle a plethora of other issues in How to Adult including tax, the business of death, and how to communicate.

CHeck out How to Adult on the RTE iPlayer HERE

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