“We hope that [the docu-series] will inspire people to talk about the elephant in the room.”- Katie Couric

In China, apparently 26 is the age when women can be considered Sheng Nu or “left over,” which essentially equates with old maid. While the milestone age might differ slightly around the globe, the universal truth is that women face pressure to be married before they are “past their prime.” And parents, who want the best for their daughters and whose opinions are based in their own experience, can be some of the greatest perpetrators of such pressure.

Yet, as we become more global and more career driven, young women find themselves caught between their visions for their lives and those of their families — which can sometimes painfully diverge. “There is a whole generation of women who are challenging social norms and saying, ’We want to do things our way,’” renowned journalist Katie Couric describes in the trailer for her latest project, “Timelines,” a new docu-series that she created in partnership with SK-II.

Couric and SK-II announced their partnership and unveiled a behind-the-scenes video introducing the series at Cannes Lions in France last week. 

In Couric’s words, the documentary project is about “the changing nature of timelines and how a younger generation of women is charting its own course and not necessarily conforming to societal standards or traditions.” In the series, Couric travels the globe to investigate the evolving and controversial topic of marital pressure and societal expectations for young women. She interviewed young women and their mothers in New York, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo for the program.

“There has been, for a long time, a pressure to get married by a certain age or that [marriage] is one of your big goals in life, if not the major goal,” Couric said in a telephone interview. “I think all of the [young women that I spoke with] were saying, ‘We have a lot of things we aspire to do and aspire to be, and getting married may happen, but it’s not our main goal in life.’ This is difficult for their more traditional mothers, especially in the Asian countries, who have lived their lives in a certain way and want their daughters to live like this.”

The average age of marriage in the United States has trended upward over the past several decades, currently residing at 27.8 years old for women, according to the U.S. Census 2018 Report on Families and Living Arrangements. In 1978, American women were an average of 21.8 years old when they first married. Similar trends toward later first-marriages have emerged globally.

Couric says she was especially intrigued by the idea of investigating the generational shift in women’s life timelines because she has two daughters. 

“I think every mother envisions a certain path and timeline for their daughters, so I related to the moms in the story. I’m certainly less traditional than any of them,” she says. “So I could appreciate and understand, you invest so much into your children and more than anything you want them to be happy and cared for, to be loved and love someone else…But also as someone who has been super driven and career-oriented my whole life, I can see why these young women can want a different life than their mothers have led.”

The trailer hints at emotionally charged, challenging moments between generations, which Couric confirmed. But she is hoping that the series helps spark necessary dialogue.

“We hope that it will inspire people to talk about the elephant in the room that sometimes exists but is often hard to talk about because the timelines may be very different and the expectations may vary,” Couric says.

The series is set to premiere July 10. 

From SK-II:

On the heels of its thought-provoking “The Expiry Date” and “Meet Me Halfway,” SK-II continues its #ChangeDestiny campaign with Katie Couric and “Timelines.” For more than 38 years, the prestige skincare brand has invited people to take the destiny of their skin into their own hands, and is committed to helping women live their best lives. Watch the behind-the-scenes trailer of “Timelines” and catch the series premiere on July 10.


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