5 TV Commercials That Accidentally Made Life Look Depressing

Reality is an all-around miserable place full of bills, spiders, and pants-wearing. No sane person would ever want to live there, which is why TV was invented, and why nearly everything on it is more removed from our world than the Voyager probe. Commercials seem to be the worst offenders, taking place almost exclusively in shining utopias of perfect, non-flattened hamburgers and instant solutions to every problem imaginable, all to take your mind off that strange sound the car has been making lately.

But once in a while, things go horribly wrong and a commercial accidentally shows you glimpses of the real world in such blunt and uncompromising ways, you'll think it was advertising Zoloft-flavored vodka. Like with ...

#5. Verizon's Friends & Family Share Plan


It's winter somewhere in the suburbs, and two kids are frantically shoveling the driveway as their father watches from inside the house.

The mom comes up to him and looks in total amazement at her children doing chores, asking: "Wow, how did this happen?"

Verizon Communications
"I can't even remember the word for what they are doing. I want to say ... 'shobeling'?"

Dad explains that he told the kids they'll be able to use their phones as much as they want if they shovel some snow. Surprised, his wife reminds him that they could already do that thanks to Verizon's Friends & Family Share Plan, to which the father simply says: "Yeah, they don't know that." What he really means is: "Thank you, Verizon, for helping me win at parenting!"

Verizon Communications
"Someone won't be cry-drinking himself to sleep tonight!"

What It's Really Saying:

The family in the commercial has completely fallen apart.

First of all, a jacket hastily thrown over what appears to be a tank top made out of one-ply toilet paper is not the proper attire for "freezing" weather, as the dad described it.

Verizon Communications

But the kids don't give a fuck, because every second wasted putting on more clothing is another second spent not talking on the phone to their friends, the only people in their lives who truly matter to them. Their parents evidently don't qualify, because based on the mother's surprised reaction, the siblings' typical response to being told to do chores has long been to pat their parent on the shoulder and walk away, laughing under their breath the entire time. But the second Dad promised them unlimited phone use -- that is to say, a way to detach themselves even further from their family life -- shit, they were probably sprinting out the door when they heard that, constantly yelling at each other to hurry up (and calling the other one by the wrong name because it's probably been months since they last had a real conversation).

So now there they are, finally helping out around the house they want nothing to do with, watched over by a man who's lost so much of his son and daughter's respect, he now has to think of them as enemies to be outwitted. That's why they are so hard at work, and why, when the mom asks "How did this happen?" I don't think she is talking about the shoveling.

Verizon Communications
"Wow, how did this happen?"
"One day at a time..."

#4. "Pass It On": The Purse Commercial


The Foundation for a Better Life is a nonprofit organization promoting the ideas of honesty, compassion, and optimism (in other words, the destruction of Los Angeles). Their most famous campaign is the "Pass It On" series of inspirational videos, like the one below:

The ad opens on a bus bench occupied by a woman and something that a focus group of old men came up with after being asked to describe "a ruffian."

The Foundation for a Better Life
"Also, he should be smoking three marijuanas at once!"

When the bus arrives, the woman gets on it but forgets her purse, which Generation Y then grabs and bolts away with. As a patrol car starts following him, we are left to assume that he's stealing the purse, when suddenly he catches up to the bus and returns the purse to the woman. She thanks the kid, and the cops even offer him a congratulatory doughnut containing your recommended daily requirement of not judging people by their appearance.

The Foundation for a Better Life
So remember, kids: Do good things and people might give you free stuff!

What It's Really Saying:

You will always be judged by your appearance.

The entire purpose of this video is to make you think that the kid is stealing the woman's belongings before it could take that prejudiced notion and drop it on its head like a discount Craigslist nanny. But why wouldn't you assume from the start that the kid was trying to return the purse? For the same reason the cops followed him: He looked suspicious, running through back alleys, looking nervous, and aggressively not wearing a suit.

The Foundation for a Better Life
Just ... youthing all over the place.

What this commercial inadvertently teaches us is that humans instinctively consider certain aspects of personal appearance to be untrustworthy. It's not saying "Don't form opinions about people by how they look," but rather "Just because someone looks like a thief, it doesn't mean they are a thief," which wouldn't have worked if the kid in the video was wearing a polo shirt. If he was, he could probably run undisturbed through a busy police station holding a bag clearly marked "Stolen grave jewelry."

But looking like he did, the police immediately deemed him a potential criminal, and the really sad part is that we need the cops to act like that because what if he had stolen the bag? They had to investigate it, so in the end, the only thing this supposedly inspirational ad does is reveal the uncomfortable truth that what's inside your heart doesn't matter unless it matches what's on the outside. Otherwise, it's generally been agreed that you're guilty of something until proven innocent. Pass it on.

#3. Take Care of Me Twins


The Take Care of Me Twins are a pair of twin baby dolls designed to both entertain children and give them some idea about the challenges of parenthood.

According to the toy's commercial, little girls will have so much fun playing with their new babies, but also with cleaning up their drool, getting sneezed on in the face, and generally learning that raising kids takes a lot of work, time, and patience. But as the ad's jingle puts it, "Take Care of Me Twins keep me on the run. But caring for twins is so much more fun!"

Toy Biz
"I haven't slept in two months!"

What It's Really Saying:

Having kids will drive you insane.

Take a look at the girl's face after she's been looking after the twins around the clock:

Toy Biz
"Did I hear something about Zoloft vodka?"

That is not a child tired from having fun with her dollies. That is the face of a 40-year-old single mother with three jobs who has considered marrying her elderly boss in the hopes that he'll die on top of her one day and leave her all his money. She looks absolutely exhausted and just about ready to crack. At one point, when she gets sneezed at and says, "Thanks very much, was that one for me?" she does it in such a stressed-out, passive-aggressive way that you get the feeling that the only reason she hasn't started choking her dolls was because the cameras were rolling.

And, OK, I guess that having children can sometimes make you feel that way (maybe). I just thought we were supposed to downplay all that stuff in order to secure the survival of the human race. But the Take Care of Me Twins ad says it like it is, not hiding the ugly realities of motherhood, but depicting them in all of their glory through the girl's expression of tortured madness after one of the twins dribbles on her shirt:

Toy Biz

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Cezary Jan Strusiewicz

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