By on July 17, 2017

Ernie and Bert Sesame Street, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles/YouTube

Get to know me, even just a little, and you’ll quickly discover my seething hatred for the inexplicably popular and mercilessly long-running sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. Given the chance, I’d banish the writers, producers and male cast to the barren wastes of Siberia, where the overpaid hacks could atone for their sins (and remain quiet) while braving the frigid winds in search of nutrient-rich mosses and lichens.

Maybe it’s the death of the sitcom that brought us to this point. Raised on the terrific sitcoms (and some guilty also-rans) of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, my childhood television experience was abundance in diversity. Still, despite my love for cars and guns and the like, my TV starting point, like that of so many others, was Sesame Street. America’s social barometer, it was, and continues to be.

Like now, strong options loomed large in little Steph’s brain. Never cared for Big Bird. Too big. Dull in conversation. Grover? Who is Grover really supposed to be? And frankly, I wouldn’t leave any child of mine alone with Elmo.

Still, certain characters hold a special place in my dark, shrivelled heart. Until, that is, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got its hands on their innocent, soft upper halves.

So, FCA and the Sesame Street cast have teamed up to hock Chrysler Pacifica minivans in a series of videos. I guess Jim Gaffigan’s time is up. It’s all very cute. Perhaps too cute. Still, it’s forgivable, as you’ll be hard-pressed to find child-friendly characters that resonate both with four-year-olds and 40-year-olds. 40-year-olds, of course, all wish they could go back in time and disrupt the filming of Frozen and the recording of certain songs.

I can’t fault FCA for wrangling Sesame Street onto the Pacifica bandwagon. It’s a big get. In the videos, The Count counts things, something that still brings joy to my heart, and Cookie Monster remains the children’s character most reminiscent of…myself. A treasure, that Cookie Monster, despite the sugary addiction that’s imprisoned his soul. And who doesn’t love Bert’s three distinct expressions (straight, bowed upward, and bowed downward unibrow), always the result of one of Ernie’s feisty shenanigans? Despite their differences, those two make it work.

So the potential’s there to draw a bit of enjoyment from these ads. The problem, however, is the pervasive laugh track. See, these characters aren’t just horsing around in their Pacificas — they’re doing it on Guy Smiley’s (Chrysler-themed) show. That means an audience laugh track. And, like the electronic morons splitting their sides after every unfunny comment uttered on The Unvarnished Turd The Big Bang Theory, the resulting annoyance kills any hope of enjoying the show. There’s also kids. People are yelling. It’s too much.

Why can’t there be some candid moments? Why does Guy Smiley and his shiny blazer have to ruin what could be a great little bit of marketing? (Assuming you can get past your favorite Sesame Street characters shilling for a van maker.) Why couldn’t FCA have killed the laugh track and given adults the opportunity to, just maybe, see a slightly different side of the Sesame Street crew, all thanks to, um, Chrysler?

Maybe this asks too much of an automaker’s marketing team. Maybe it asks too much of television and YouTube and today’s world in general. Maybe, perhaps, possibly it speaks more to this writer’s eccentricities than anything else.

[Image: Chrysler/YouTube]

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34 Comments on “Ad Time: Promising Sesame Street Chrysler Promotion Ruined by Guy Smiley, Big Bang Theory...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Wasn’t the reason that Kermit did not appear regularly on Sesame Street the fact that Jim Henson didn’t allow any Muppets tainted by product advertising/endorsements to be featured on Sesame Street?

    And as someone who dislikes most television shows and in particular laugh track sitcoms and shows geared for the American market, I am a fan of TBBT.

  • avatar

    Sadly Sesame Street was after my time .

    Not that we had a T.V. set anyway .

    SWMBO seems to enjoy TBBT, I’m not sure why .


  • avatar

    The only time I watched TBBT was on a cross country flight a few years ago and it made me want to locate my nearest emergency exit door and use it at 38,000 feet. If this is what passes as a sitcom these days it’s no wonder network tv ratings are in the tank.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought I was the only one who hated that show. The opening song is annoying, the characters are annoying, its just garbage I only watch when forced to (as in I’m at someone’s house and its on their TV…in which case I usually make up a reason to leave or at least go outside where I can’t hear it).

      Similarly, I HATED Friends. Everyone loved that show. Like TBBT, the song was annoying as hell, the characters annoyed me, the story lines were pointless drivel. I hated it. Still do.

      I’ve been DVRing The Jefferson’s the past few weeks. Its about the only show I’ve watched with any regularity recently. I love Florence. I remember watching it (re-runs) when I was a kid, I loved it then and I love it now.

      Other old shows I LOVE:
      Murder, She Wrote
      Rockford Files
      Seinfeld (Kramer and George especially)

      I watched Mommas Family when I was a kid, but I kinda grew to where I didn’t care for it later. Same with All In The Family.

      • 0 avatar

        As someone who’s owned 2 Tauri, currently one Sable, and watched an epic shit ton of Tv my whole life, I feel qualified to reply to your post.

        I never watched Big Bang until I got together with my wife, and I find it passable. Sheldon and Amy can be amusing. Everyone else is getting kind of annoying as the years roll on. It’s a small investment to keep the wife happy. Lord knows I’ve chosen more of the shows we watch than she has.

        I know I’m getting old because I’m starting to revisit the shows of my youth more and watching new content less. Currently watching Star Trek TNG on Blu Ray (it looks spectacular by the way, like it was shot today) and while I liked it as a youth (I was 11 when it premiered-and still vividly remember my mom handing me her People magazine and telling me there would be a new Star Trek), I was fiercely loyal to the original show. Now, as an adult, I’m blown away by TNG. What a fantastic, fantastic show.

  • avatar

    The Muppets cashed in a long time ago.

    The product placement in the latest Muppet movies were so in your face that it was jarring.

  • avatar

    I feel like I’ve seen this before when the muppets did it for the Toyota Highlander, I think for the Super Bowl?

  • avatar

    Like all TV seriecs after about a dozen episodes it grows stale. TV commercials have even a shorter life span.

  • avatar

    The truly infuriating part of this story (which gets nary a mention) is that FCA is doing this because Congress has cut funding to PBS.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      This has nothing to do with that. Muppets are a Disney property, with an HBO side deal to show Sesame Street first, before PBS can get it.

      They don’t *need* FCAs money to replace any federal funds.

      • 0 avatar
        Sgt Beavis

        Correct Jeff. The Muppets and Sesame Street were never owned by PBS to begin with. PBS is just a distributor. The whole shebang was owned by the Henson Co until they sold the Muppet rights to Disney in 2004. And they were pretty profitable before that.

        PBS funding is a totally separate issue.

    • 0 avatar

      What is depressing, not infuriating, to me is that we (Americans) have become a nation of people so easily “infuriated” – very often about something of which we really know nothing other than what we have been told by like-minded infuriated people.

  • avatar

    The vast majority of sitcoms suck, and they always have. Mindless, vapid garbage. especially “family” sitcoms. Parents who don’t act like any actual real-world parents, kids who are written as sarcastic little adults, and every crisis can be solved within 22 minutes (44 for a “very special” 2-part episode.)

  • avatar

    “So, FCA and the Sesame Street cast have teamed up to hock Chrysler Pacifica minivans”

    Do you know what it is to hock personal property?

    They weren’t “hocking” anything. They were hawking Chrysler minivans.

  • avatar

    Maybe FCA could steal Kia’s hamsters, instead?

    “Sesame Street”, to me, has always been a poor imitation to “Captain Kangaroo”, but it’s generational, I suppose.

    As to TBBT, I think I’d sooner watch the “Hallmark Channel”, especially when the main character is a well-known homosexual and the show tries to pass him off as something else by him having a girlfriend. Who do they think they’re kidding?

    • 0 avatar

      Do you honestly think that the sexuality of the lead matters? Did it matter for Rock Hudson? Did you even watch HIMYM and the realize the womanizing Barney Stinson character was pitch perfectly played by a “known homosexual?” They are actors playing a character.

      • 0 avatar

        Same with Niles Crane in Fraiser. David Hyde Pierce is gay, his character is not.

        Dan Butler is also gay, yet played the womanizing, antagonistic Bulldog on the show.

        To make matters “worse” (I guess?) you had a straight actor (Patrick Stewart) play a gay man who falls for Frasier toward the end of the series.

        Oh, and Jack McFarland on Will & Grace? The flamboyant feminine gay character? Sean Hayes, the actor who played him? Not gay. Married (to a female) with kids, as I understand it.

        Like you (and others) said, its called “acting”, and these guys do it pretty well.

        • 0 avatar

          “The flamboyant feminine gay character? Sean Hayes, the actor who played him? Not gay. Married (to a female) with kids, as I understand it.”


          Sean Hayes is married to Scott Icenogle and has been since 2014.

    • 0 avatar

      “As to TBBT, I think I’d sooner watch the “Hallmark Channel”, especially when the main character is a well-known homosexual and the show tries to pass him off as something else by him having a girlfriend. Who do they think they’re kidding?”

      Do you know what this “acting” thing is?

      you sound like an 80-year-old stuck in the 1940s.

      • 0 avatar

        Did you see “Lincoln”?

        The main character is a well-known English actor, and the film tries to pass him off as the 16th American president by using makeup and writing.

        I did some research, and it turns out that Daniel Day-Louis has never even been the president of *any* country!

        Who do they think they’re kidding?

  • avatar
    Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

    Deep breaths Step, you are not the target audience for any of these things. Now I going back to the truth about fridges…

  • avatar

    TBBT is truly wretched TV. The horrible laugh track is the real kicker that makes me want to take a hostage. It’s a show about smart people for a dumb audience. Basically every joke boils down to a character mentioning something nerds like and the audience laughing at how much the nerds all like Star Trek. Compared to the brilliant Arrested Development which is a show about dumb people for a smart audience.

  • avatar
    The Comedian

    Big Bird’s Windstar ad from 1999.

  • avatar

    I’m hearing the stupid BBT laugh track in my head right now. God I hate that show.

  • avatar

    Anyone tricked into liking BBT can simply check out one of the laugh-track-free clips on Youtube. The non-jokes followed by long silent pauses are excruciating.

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