Maybe you haven't seen ESPN's commercial for the New Year's Eve playoff games. If that's the case, you can either close the tab now, guilt-free, or click play below.
So let's start with the casting choices for this commercial, which can be separated into three groups.
GROUP 1: Hi Please Watch Our Television Programs On ABC
This group includes Jimmy Kimmel, Ken Jeong, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Jimmy Kimmel's sidekick, Guillermo. They're likely here because they were asked to do so, to help remind you to watch their shows oh god please watch television don't force us to give shows to Vine stars. This is a work party for them, and work parties can be perfectly enjoyable.
Granted, they don't SEEM super happy. Kimmel walks in holding a single balloon, like a sad French child in a short film about how families are just a prison we pretend to enjoy.
His tie undone, Kimmel begins to sing, a slight mournfulness in his voice. (We'll get to why this is an interesting/bad choice of primary vocalist.) Then there's Ken and Guillermo.
Ken's remembering a bittersweet memory, a day spent with a former love who he now only sees pass by occasionally on his Facebook feed. She seems happy, but Ken can't help but wonder - what if he'd taken that trip with her to Big Bear instead of staying behind to work on his tight five? Guillermo's just there, reminding himself not to look directly into the camera.
Tracee Ellis Ross only gets a sliver of camera time, but at least she's attempting to act like she's at a party.
GROUP 2: College Football Mascots/Cheerleaders
Representatives in this commercial include Michigan State's Sparty, UCLA's Joe Bruin, TCU's SuperFrog, Georgia's Hairy Dawg, and the USC Song Girls. And, while this commercial was likely filmed before the season even began, consider that
a) if a mascot's at your New Year's Eve party, said mascot's team didn't make the Playoff
b) the mascots of these teams are currently ranked 13th, 15th, 19th, Georgiath, and USCth.
Shit's totally rigged.
Also, what's going on here?
Is this woman going to have a threesome with Joe and Josephine Bruin? I'm not here to shame anyone's bedroom preferences, but, damn. This is supposed to be a commercial about football games.
GROUP 3: We Were Not Busy And Worry You've Forgotten Us
That group includes Robin Thicke, Josh Duhamel, and Kelly Rowland*. Which means you had Kelly Rowland on set but you decided to let Jimmy Kimmel take the musical reins.
WHY. I'm not trying to turn this into an argument about the individual talents each member of Destiny's Child possesses, but I feel very comfortable saying they're all better vocalists than Kimmel. So now we've got a party with Robin Thicke, Josh Duhamel, and a Kelly Rowland who's barely singing. Great. Just fucking great. This is the work of a casting director who tried to pay back a bunch of favors at once.
*Though Nick Young is not in Group 1 or 2, his main role here is to keep Kobe Bryant off set. Unless his contract requires it, Kobe's not showing up in the same place as Swaggy P.
Should we talk about the song itself? Let's talk about the song itself.
This New Year's Eve will be so awesome
The stars have all aligned
So match your jerseys and cummerbunds cause now it's playoff time
It's playoff time my dear
It's playoff time
Footballs will spike when nine will strike
Cause now it's playoff time
Yes New Year's Eve will be so awesome
Watching college football through confetti
Missing out is not an option
So plan accordingly
Such peppy lyrics! Such enthusiasm! So why do you watch this ad and feel a quiet but persistent discomfort? Maybe because these words don't at all fit the musical feel of "Auld Lang Syne." You know, the Robert Burns poem where you reminisce about old friendships and the past journeys of life before ringing in a new year?
Maybe that's why everyone in this commercial looks like an executor is going to show up at any minute and pop in a VHS with Bill Hancock telling them the last person to leave his mansion alive inherits his estate. (Don't get excited. It's a collection of Fiesta Bowl commemorative coins.)
Of course, this is all just one man's opinion. It's easy for me to lob criticism from afar. Fortunately, one highly placed anonymous Disney employee gave me this commentary on the commercial.
FOR FUCK'S FUCKING SAKE, IS THIS NOT ESPN AND THEREFORE ABC AND THEREFORE DISNEY, DO WE NOT HAVE ALAN GODDAMN MENKEN ON SPEED DIAL. LIN-MANUEL FUCKING MIRANDA IS WORKING FOR DISNEY RIGHT NOW!! DO BETTER.
Can't argue with that.