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Wearing the Same Dress to the Addy Awards - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Wearing the Same Dress to the Addy Awards
It's a week of eras ending. Tomorrow brings one I'll talk more about, derp, on or after tomorrow. But Sunday ended the long run of Mad Men, a series which glamorized the 60s and all its vices, explored many of the tropes of the ad biz that still infect our media, but mostly focused on a failure of anti-hero trying to make his way among it all.

Never saw a minute of it.  Yet I immediately recognized the reference in its already iconic final episode as one which weaves the 1971 "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" Coke commercial into the essence of its final moments....

As did a show we WERE watching, aired at the same hour on a different cable channel- Happyish, a series which ravages the current decade and all its vices, explores the same tropes of the ad biz, and mostly focuses on a failure of an anti-hero trying to make HIS way among it all.

The latter, best as I can tell, is hardly being watched by anybody.  You know they've got a problem when the promos for the show don't feature rave reviews from the trades, or back-cover-of-the-novel praises from other great cable creators, but a series of tweets from.... fans. Three or four of them.  Throw in the two untweeters under this roof and we might be the only people they have watching.

And those who are watching are largely complaining. It's too predictable, covers the same ground as the beloved now-ending series. This one reports the other common complaint: "It plays like the work of someone who hasn't watched cable TV in the last 15 years and therefore doesn't realize what he thinks is bold and edgy is both tired and smug in an entirely unearned way."

In other words, it plays well for those uncoveted-by-advertisers: 50-64-year old coots like us, because to us, it IS bold and edgy.  It's also funny and witty in a very NPR kind of way- creator/showrunner Sholom Auslander is from the This American Life crowd (but has the necessary cred for an ad-men arc from having worked on Madison Avenue for a decade to pay the bills).  Stuff that the public-broadcasting Volvo-and-chardonnay crowd "gets," usually doesn't "get" much in the way of mainstream ratings. Remember that attempt to turn Car Talk into a weekly sitcom?  I may be the only one who does. Despite the full backing of the Magliozzi brothers and their longtime producer, and the starring role given George Wendt fresh off his stool in Cheers, it may have the only CBS series ever to have been canceled during the second commercial break, and has been completely excised from the Click and Clack history.

And yet, despite its open disdain for its own subject matter, and its star's meta-awareness of That Other Show's existence and glamorization of the business ("Fuck Mad Men!" is one of Steve Coogan's first lines in the whole series), Happyish managed to work in a spoof of the same real Coke commercial during the same hour of original airtime.

Matthew Weiner must've flipped a shit. Series finales have some of the tightest security ever around those blink-or-you'll-miss-it final surprises, and I saw no spoilers before the event to suggest that the series finale on another network was going to go there.  (At least one reviewer noticing the similarity chalked it up to an educated guess: "That Coke spot is so iconic in the ad biz that it doesn’t surprise me [two] shows about advertising used it to fuel plotlines.")

But both on the same night in their closing moments? Sure, it was reasonable for music critics to respect the future fame of Bruce Springsteen before his breakout Born to Run album, but when both Time and Newsweek put the Boss on their covers in the same 1975 week with the same prediction? Awwwkwarrrd.

My guess is that a month from now, even more likely a year or more from now, nobody will remember the Happyish riff on the point of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing"- that happiness is something you have to force on people, because it doesn't come naturally,  You certainly aren't likely to see Hitler directing the commercial, as those four tweeters, Eleanor and I all did.

And that's too bad. Ish.
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