February 16, 2009

This message brought to you by 30 Rock

Filed under: TV — Chris @ 12:29 pm

The Vulture worries over the integrity of televised comedy:

In last night’s 30 Rock — a show that, as our own Emily Nussbaum has already pointed out, has shown itself to be more than willing to work advertisers’ messages into its plotlines — Jack Donaghy and his spicy Latina lover, Elisa, not only found themselves effusively praising McFlurrys (“the world’s greatest dessert”), but the plot was also tailored in such a way that the two wound up spending their Valentine’s Day in an actual McDonald’s restaurant. So, the question is this: Did this seemingly blatant instance of product integration breach any sort of lines of television ethics?

Short answer: no. I hate commercials. I ruthlessly DVR, mute, and channel-flip them away. I install AdBlock Plus unbidden on the computers of my friends and family. But I’m having a hard time coming up with a reason why this business should upset me.

If 30 Rock were a news program, or even a satire, with a mission to “afflict the comfortable”, then I might give a shit. But it’s a sitcom and its only duty is to be funny. As it turns out, the McFlurry business was funny. I could see how that meta-joke (“isn’t it funny how we are talking like shills for this product when we are in fact characters who are not shills for a product played by actors who are in fact shills for a product, and we’re all so ambivalent about it?”) could grow old—and it’s hard to see how it could ever work on a lesser, less self-referential show, which is strange and ironic—but it’s working for me, for now.

Now, excuse me, I’m going to go buy a McFlurry (“the world’s greatest dessert”).


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