Well by golly, it’s sure been a while since I’ve posted here! There is no time to get into the how and the why. Because…
It is time for a rant. A rant about television.
I will preface this rant by saying how much I love television, how passionate I am about the idea and execution of well thought-out, carefully planned, well-written shows. Yes, I also enjoy watching couples argue on Divorce Court, but whatever – I like what I like – ain’t no shame in it. Anyways, I am actually working towards being a writer for TV as a life/career goal, so this is something that is very important to me and what I stand for in the creative sense. It’s also why publishing this post may be the worst, career-killing idea I’ve ever had, but sometimes you just gotta keep it real.
I will use ABC’s show as an example simply because I’m currently unaware of any other network that does this.
First, they do the most blatant product placement in The Bachelorette, admittedly one of the worst shows that exist. One of the clearest examples I remember is of a special exclusive trailer for The Hundred Foot Journey that ran during a commercial break way back when no one had heard about it yet. Nothing weird there, right? Nope, because Andi and her date just so happened to watch that same exact movie on their date, and then proceeded to talk about how romantic and amazing it was for another 5 minutes of our precious time. Thankfully, it is a shitty show, everyone knows it and watches anyway, so this doesn’t really undermine whatever intellect we may possibly have.
But then, ABC decided to take their product placement to a whole new level and include it in its scripted shows. The one I got to see and rage over was an episode of Pretty Little Liars. The show simply focuses on the same ‘mysterious’ run-around where no one gets any answers about anything that happens because everyone just lies all the time, and everything is a secret. Oh and people hook up once in a while. That’s pretty much it. I have watched the past two seasons because it’s part of my job. I don’t really get the hype over it, but then again I’m not one of the millions of teenage girls who are obsessed with it either.
On this episode during the commercial break, we got to see a special, long preview of Ouija, a movie that is coming out in October in time for Halloween season. So far so good. But THEN, someone on the show started talking about his paranormal experiences and talking about a ouija board. Crazy coincidence you say!? Let me reiterate, this show has nothing to do with the paranormal – at least not for any of the seasons it’s been on. No ghosts. No magic. No voodoo. Nothing. And it JUST SO HAPPENED that right after a trailer about a ouija board movie came on, the dude on the TV show started talking about a ouija board. Oh and the exact same hashtag popped up on screen during both the trailer and the show – there’s absolutely no denying it was intentional. Honestly, how stupid do you really think we are?
The idea of a SCRIPTED television show literally being written around an advertisement is so totally insulting, not just on an intellectual level, but just everything I believe writing is about. It absolutely defeats the integrity of the show itself and any serious writer on the show’s self-respect – at least I would think so .
I honestly cannot imagine how I would feel if someone came to me and my writing team mid-creative process and just told me to work some completely random, ridiculous idea in there just because some filthy rich executive asshole paid for the air time. I really think I would quit. At least I hope I would have the sense to be true to myself and my craft to do so. But who the hell knows?
Seriously, ABC can’t be the only network doing this. This isn’t necessarily anger at the network itself, but a general anger that this practice exists and has such a shitty influence over the creative process. I really thought we went away with this in the 60s, but perhaps I just don’t know enough about the subject matter and have suddenly snapped into sad, sad reality. Have you seen advertising this blatant within a scripted TV show before? Please let me know so that I may continue wallowing in my disappointment over this.