New Depths of Terrible

So, The Middle is a television program on the Disney Corporation’s ABC Network. As the series’ title screams, it is as blatant a knock-off of another program, namely Malcolm in the Middle, as you could ever find in any medium, with all the usual steps down, including a huge drop-off in acting and writing talent (not that Malcolm in the Middle was ever anything wonderful itself). Obviously, the market-measurers at Disney/ABC simply noticed that the formula — ironic, navel-gazing self-pity and apolitical class resentment — still had some legs.

I mention this utterly turdy show because it just recently stepped to a new low in the multiply burned-over and reconstructed capitalist Potemkin Village that is American television. This week, The Middle aired an entire episode that was an undisguised, ham-fisted commercial for the Volkswagen Passat.

The set-up, shown in this clip, is as terrible and stupid as everything else about this series and this episode.  The premise is that the main characters’ neighbors are away doing something fun, but somehow forgot to park their brand new Volkswagen Passat in their garage, so call as ask the main characters to move it in for them.  This, of course, launches a series of scenes in which the main characters praise the various wonders of the Passat.

That’s the thing about commercial TV.  It always gets worse, despite (and because of) all the money.

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Heavy Armor
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It is because of the money. Because of the (milquetoast) regulations regarding advertising on TV and movies, sponsors are coming back full circle and running their sponsored ads within the show themselves. The only thing left is to have the actors actually saying, “Brought to you by…”

Douglas Pressman
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There exists an important phenomenon in US television that might be termed, censorship by absence. Current technology should easily enable US viewers to sample television productions from around the world, not least of all, the 60 channels that Chinese viewers enjoy (two of them in English), all of what BBC offers the UK audience, among thousands of programs screened around the world. Were the actually available choices to be on offer in ‘free market’ America, US citizens would quickly grasp that the festering rot called ‘situation comedies’ is not merely about selling cars, but, more importantly, sustaining a national mood… Read more »