Is it just me or has the whole “crass commercialization” thing reached critical mass? I’m not averse to making a few bucks here and there – I mean there’s a paid advertisement at the end of this blog post – but can’t we have a little god damned decorum?
As a freelance copywriter – in other words, unemployed – I sit at home a lot and watch a lot of television. Last week I purposely sat down to catch an episode of “Suburgatory,” and before you get up in my grill for having absolutely awful taste in television sitcoms (which is the most redundant argument you can ever make), I tuned in specifically because Brandon Keener had a guest spot and, well, as a card-carrying member of Team Garrus I had to represent. If anyone asks, yes I also watched the episode of “Criminal Minds” he was in. And yes, he was great in that too, even if he got hit with a shovel.
Oh, don’t look at me like that and grumble about spoilers. It’s “Criminal Minds.” Someone gets hit with a shovel every other episode. What doesn’t happen is that the guy from “Dharma & Greg” doesn’t spend 15 minutes going off how Craftsman shovels are the best shovels to use for braining someone and then burying them in a shallow grave out by the watershed, followed by a commercial break packed with 30-second spots for Craftsman shovels and Ace Hardware stores, where you can easily come down and pick up your Craftsman shovel sold to you personally by John Fucking Madden.
However, this is exactly what happened with Brandon’s episode of “Suburgatory.” And yes, we’re on a first-name basis, considering his wife Elizabeth Barnes re-Tweeted me that one time. (Brandon, you knocked it out of the park on both shows, by the way.) No, there wasn’t a “let’s bury the body” sub-plot in the episode, but at least 70% of the episode was all about how one of the main characters wanted nothing more than to cuddle up with her brand-new Microsoft Surface tablet but kept getting interrupted. Each bit was, of course, followed by one of those god damned electronica dance video Surface commercials that have been playing solid since Windows 8 launched back in October. You know the one – it was pretty cool the first eighteen hundred times you saw it but now you just want to hunt down that guy in the commercial that’s covered in a Surface tablet bodysuit and hit him with a shovel.
So here I am, just trying to ride out this garbage so I can see Brandon Keener get the prime-time exposure he deserves, and I’m getting more and more disgusted at the whole thing. Isn’t it enough that a half-hour show is now roughly 20 minutes of poorly written, hackneyed, predictable five-act shenanigans and 10 minutes of obnoxious, insulting commercials? Why do we have to have commercial creep into our actual television shows? Is subtlety a dead art? It felt like that scene from Wayne’s World – the one where they’re making fun of product placement in movies and television – only it’s not a satire any more.
It’s not just shitty network sitcoms that do this now either. Popular cable television shows are also taking the piss too, as I remember an absolutely awkward episode of “Warehouse 13” last season where I couldn’t tell the difference between the show and a commercial for the newest Toyota Prius, and there was a whole segment dedicated to how mind-blowingly awesome FedEx Office is on a recent episode of “Restaurant: Impossible.” Can’t we just have shit in the background like we used to in our television shows? Is this what happens when you let network executives into the writer’s room?
Can we call for a moratorium on really intrusive product placement or something? I mean I know this is the epitome of a First World Problem, but it’s affecting me personally and that’s where I draw the line. This is our Vietnam, people! We need to start organizing a march on Burbank before sweeps week next year!
Now go click on the embedded YouTube video ad under this blog post.