Ah…one nice thing about season six is that it’s been fairly free of product placement (that I can see)…
That was my original opening sentence for this post when I began writing it last week. It’s an idea I’ve been sort of ruminating on for a few months, even before Bones Theory went live. And I was super pumped, because it seemed like for the most part, this season has been free of blatant product placement. And then…
Oh, snap! But when I began to re-work my post, I realized it was good that I had to re-do it. I was all set to be kind of snarky and complain-y about it, but really…maybe I shouldn’t be complaining. I think at this point we have to sort of just accept the fact that product placement IS going to happen, and we should celebrate that for the most part (…for the most part!), BONES is pretty good about it. It seems to me that the writers try to concentrate it into one or two episodes a season, (Double Death, Gamer in the Grease, Witch in the Wardrobe) and they also, as much as possible, try to work it into the dialogue. I mean, hello…it’s obviously NOT normal BONES dialogue, but…they are trying, right? Let’s cut them some slack.
Some of you might say, “No…if they really cared about their craft, they would do it (write, act, direct, etc) for the love of it, they wouldn’t care about the ratings, and they’ve pretty much sold out.” Well, I’m not usually the type to call people out, but I’d have to say, “That’s unrealistic.”
I think in this day and age of TV, it’s unrealistic that shows aren’t going to have product placement. And when we’re talking BONES, we’re not talking just ANY show. We’re talking the THURSDAY NIGHT FOX ANCHOR SHOW! Thursday nights are the shiz when it comes to TV. It includes some of the most competitive advertising slots of the week, as movies are advertised for the weekends, etc, etc. Remember the days when it seemed every year there was some threat that BONES was going to be moved to Fridays, aka…
Right? I haven’t heard that kind of talk for a while. And since the middle of season four, we’ve been solid on Thursdays at 8PM EST. I can’t speak for you all, but I’d rather have that kind of security and have to sort of overlook a couple of blatant descriptions of SPRINT smartphones.
And…maybe it’s just me, but I’d also like to think that for the most part, each person involved also feels that it’s sort of cringe-worthy. Yeah, it’s necessary, but it’s not that we all have to LOVE it. Imagine this…
(warning: somewhat obscure analogy ahead)
You rent an apartment, and it’s going okay, but then the rent goes up exponentially. You ask your landlord for a grace period, and he’s glad you stopped by, because he has an announcement. The entire apartment complex was purchased by Chuck E Cheese. You each kind of smirk, but whatevs…the ball pit was awesome, and skeeball!
But then your landlord continues, “And part of the agreement is that Mr. Cheese, Inc. has stated that if you live here, you can do so for $100 a month, with the condition that you allow them to advertise with a small sign in your yard and on every Halloween, you include five tokens with each piece of candy that you pass out. Also, you can’t complain about it and must be very thankful in public.” Almost every part of you is like, “What? That is so crazy. No…no, that is insane. I am not doing that.” But then you think about it and realize it’s not that big of a deal. What’s one small sign in the yard? What’s the harm in passing out tokens? Sure, you might be ridiculed by some of your friends or people who think they are better than Chuck E Cheese, but…well, it makes sense financially, and pretty soon, you don’t even realize it anymore. And…you realize after awhile, you’re in a much better boat than your next door neighbors who actually have to wear the Chuck E Cheese costumes three nights a week.
Okay, ha, so…obscure, sure…but I think the idea is there. It could be (and I’ve seen it on other shows), A LOT WORSE! Brennan might call it a sad truism; we might just call it inevitable. We don’t see the BONES budget, so it’s impossible for us to see how the advertising and placement dollars are used by the show. I’m hoping that some of them go toward having great guest stars like Stephen Fry. I don’t know about you, but I’d pass the hat and collect loose change if it meant trying to get him back on. We all know it’s the reality of life right now: stuff costs money. David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel cost money.
Having multiple, intricately designed sets costs money. It’s worth it. Having Zooey Deschanel, Stephen Fry, David Alan Grier (and many more)…all of that…it costs money. I think it’s worth it. Heck, getting to a sixth season and over 100 episodes…that costs money.
Some people might say, “I’d rather them NOT have anything in your ‘worth it’ column (except maybe ED & DB), and have them go back to how it was earlier in the series where we didn’t have product placement, and the main discussion on whether Booth or Brennan would drive came down to the fact that Booth had bulletproof vests or Brennan annoyed a bad guy”. And well, sure…I think we’d all like that, in theory. I just don’t know how realistic it is. I’m not trying to be harsh; I’m just trying to be realistic. I guess I’m still in the camp that says it’s worth it. And here are a few things that sort of add some honorability back to it all:
1. Booth never really touts Toyota.
I know the show/network got some flak for having Booth, an FBI agent, drive a Toyota (vs. an SUV made by a corporation based in the US). So, to me, it seems like they are saying, okay, yeah, we get that. We know it’s not ideal, but…this is the hand we’re dealt and to make up for it, we’ll just sort of gloss over that fact as best as possible and have Brennan and Angela etc go on and on about roomy backseats for dead bodies and GPS systems for Booth to be able to get to Brennan’s thing in time for her to be named queen scientist, etc, etc. Does it make sense for Brennan to be driving to a crime scene all of a sudden because her car gets good gas mileage? No, no it doesn’t. It really doesn’t, and we all know it. But they sort of pad it with awesome B&B bickering about ‘perfect murders’, and we can see that they (the writers and actors) are sort of doing the best they can.
2. B&B pretty much weren’t involved at ALL in the whole Avatar thing.
It’s one thing for Hodgins, Sweets and Fisher to stand in line for tickets; it would be another if B&B were doing it. And it was kind of funny and dorky (though I could have done without that girl who hit on Sweets), and all three of the men involved are kind of funny and dorky. So again…the writers worked it in as realistically as possible. But it wasn’t Booth and Brennan who were in on that. That would have been over the top, and I appreciate that they let B&B concentrate on the case and then share this at the end:
3. For the most part, the products being ‘placed’ are fairly realistic as far as the characters are concerned and as far as the series in general goes.
They drive places. They talk on phones. They use computers. It could be so, so, so, so, so much worse. The diner is quaint; Founding Fathers is ‘local’; let’s hope that kind of stuff can stay that way. B&B drink general ‘coffee’. They sit on benches that are not marked with political slogans. When Booth is in the interrogation room, doing his awesome thing…it’s all about the work. When Brennan is in the lab, doing her awesome thing…it’s about the work. The placements don’t infiltrate into the core of each episode nor into what really matters.
All in all, I think it’s good to keep in mind that:
- It’s unrealistic to think that a show like BONES can avoid product placement.
- We can feel like we’re all (viewers, writers, actors, etc) sort of rolling our eyes at it together and shrugging, “That’s life.”
- It could be much, much worse.
Can you even imagine?
Peace, Love & Bones,