Sunday, February 8, 2009

This Post Brought to you by Campbell's

The other day, I got home from a long day at work, checked my phone messages, and heard the following: “Hi Vicki. I was wondering if you happened to be watching One Life to Live on the day that Dorian and David had oral s_x?”* Who was asking that strange and shocking question? Why, my very own mother. I called her back to tell her that I had never expected to get that message left on my phone and that I had indeed seen the scene she was talking about. There was nothing pornographic about it. It was played for laughs, though it was clear what was going on.

I had not planned to post about television so soon. I was afraid I might give any new readers the right idea about my television viewing habits.

I need to go on a reality show diet. I normally keep up with about two reality shows at a time. This steady diet is not necessarily good for me, but it gives me something to look forward to, and usually something that I can do other things to. Right now, I’m watching American Idol (which I love, even though I know I shouldn’t), and Top Chef. However, next week Survivor and The Amazing Race are both starting up. Gluttony! You’d think I’d have other things to worry about, and I do, but I am actually spending time thinking about the pros and cons of dropping Survivor. I don’t even want to hear if Project Runway is starting soon.

I watch a lot of television, but I can only do so because TiVo allows me to rush through commercials and redundancies. This is especially true for soap operas like One Life to Live. But if I’m rushing through the commercials on One Life to Live, then they don’t have a chance to make me want to buy anything. I suppose what happened last week was inevitable. One day, David (apparently finished with his dirty business with Dorian), dropped by Viki’s house to ask her advice about whether or not he should marry Dorian. When Viki asked David if he wanted coffee, he turned it down because he has become a Buddhist and he doesn’t ingest caffeine. So Viki opened the refrigerator and there were three bottles of V8. She offered him a glass, making sure to mention the brand name and say something nice about it. The whole scene was bizarre, and I did wonder if it was being done for laughs.

A day or two later, though, we’re in the same kitchen again, with Viki’s daughter, Jessica and her cousin Starr. They’re shooting the breeze about the usual things. Starr, still grieving over the death of her baby, was telling Jessica about her father’s kidnapping trial, and the story was making Jessica have flashbacks in which she was starting to remember that she had actually switched her own dead baby for Starr’s living one. In the midst of this, Starr wished for some chicken noodle soup, joking that no one could just magically whip some up. Jessica opened the cupboard door and showed a shelf full of cans of Healthy Request Soup, and just whipped some up. The last time we saw Jessica cooking in that kitchen, she was making something from scratch. She was adding an insecticide to it to kill her sister, however.

Clearly, we’re watching a new way of advertising, much like the American Idol Coca-Cola product placements. It’s smart, but I hope they get better at it. The V8 and the soup scenes were jarring (so to speak). One doesn’t picture the very wealthy characters on One Life to Live serving cans of soup or discussing brands. If they do get better at it, they have a potential gold mine. Since soap operas bring you all aspects of characters’ lives, almost every character has a kitchen. We see them eating and drinking quite often, so showing labels or even naming brands may start to seem normal. And when I see such a scene coming on, I can zip right through it with my TiVo.

*My mother actually said the words. I didn’t write them because I don’t want to deal with all the searches that might find their way to me. Didn’t want to disappoint anyone.


Libby Fife said...

So, I wouldn't pretend that I didn't love Project Runway-I did. I was also very, very lost when it ended. I was actually late to a meeting because I had to watch the finale which I recorded. I will also admit that I enjoyed it when Tabitha yelled at all of the little chickies on the salon takeover show (I forget the title). I draw the line there, however. My theory is the same for much of everything that is continuous and draws you in (including reading blogs). There must be something comforting about the continuity for us, something essential that we need. Oh, and by the way, I told my husband to get lost about Lost. I couldn't take it anymore. Ditto for Six Feet Under-those people were horrible after awhile-put the soaps to shame.

As for the advertising, it is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Very similar to your Mom's message-I just don't want to know. Also, it does not inject a note of reality into the episode for me-quite the contrary-feels a little surreal.

Good post as usual.

vicmarcam said...

The advertising actually does feel surreal and because of that it is funny. And if you think about it, I'm listening to characters talk about murder and kidnapping and I find the use of a can of soup jarring?
The genius of Project Runway is that it grabs so many people. My daughter follows fashion, so she loves it. As a person who can sew, I love it. On top of that, it's well done, with heroes and villains.
Thanks for reading.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Sounds like a deadly game of cat-and-mouse to me. We figure out how to circumvent advertisers, they figure out how to circumvent us. But to tell the truth, the only thing I could thing of was, "Everlast should sponsor one of these shows -- they always have boxing stories." Apparently I'm not part of the solution: I'm part of the problem.

You never told me you like to watch TV! How fun! In an ironic sort of way, of course.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Obviously I meant "the only thing I could think of" not "thing of"; I'm just having one of those days.

vicmarcam said...

Everlast! Genius! See, that's the kind of not jarring product placement I could get behind.
Yeah, tv. I've tried to keep it a secret from you, PJ. I'm hoping that you never learn that I am kind of fond of my dogs.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Your dogs? What do you mean, your dogs? You mean those two winsome creatures who leap forward when they see me and refuse to leave my side the entire time I'm there? The ones who won't let me sit down without demanding that I pet them? The ones who wag their tails every time they hear my name? Oh, I didn't realize you thought they were yours.

How cute!

Anonymous said...

You really need to start watching The Real Housewives of Orange County. I hate them all, and yet, oddly enough, I can't stop watching. Wait, I take that back... I actually like Jeana. But the rest of them are dreadful. You might actually enjoy it...

Oh, and the other comment about Tabatha' Salon Takeover was dead-on- it's great to watch her shred people.

vicmarcam said...

We all have things we don't talk about, and one of mine is that I have, in fact, seen episodes of The Real Housewives of Orange County. I think I watch to see if one of those strangely mute husbands, who sit there while their wives behave loudly and horribly and watch them get plastic surgery after plastic surgery until they no longer look human, will finally stand up and shout, "Enough!"

Anonymous said...

Remember where"soap operas" got their name.

vicmarcam said...

So, are you saying they're now Soup Operas?