Satire may have died
April 24, 2014 | AT&T is running a series of commercials that make me laugh out loud every time I see them.
The ads feature Milana Vayntrub as "Lily," an AT&T employee interacting with various customers. The one that really tickles my funny bone is one called "Professional Women," in this case real estate saleswomen (and one hapless salesman).
The women are played to a stereotypical T with their blazers (not gold, but close enough), crossed-arms over their chests, and no-nonsense questioning, verging on inquisition. Their faces are expressionless, skeptical, nearly harsh. As they raise one issue after another, Lily crisply responds with her talking points.
The contrast between the women's posturing and Lily's simple, direct answers shows up the women as poseurs and Lily as the true professional, even though she's wearing only a collared shirt.
When they are finally satisfied and have convinced themselves that "Those are great terms" the lead woman says "Let's close," which is the signal for all of the women to adopt their professional woman pose: arms crossed, head tilted, chin tucked in, mechanical smile in place.
The scene stealer is the lone guy in the group who never says a word but watches attentively, desperately trying to fit in. At this point, his shoulders are stooped and he looks out of the corners of his eyes to check out the alpha female for cues. The acting is superb.
After observing all the body language, he too straightens his shoulders and strikes a superior attitude with his head.
Everything about the ad is spot-on in selling cell-phone service while poking fun at real estate salespeople. Consider the Century 21 business card (right): shoulders thrown back, chin tucked, arms crossed. And who knew that you can go to a website that specializes in Century 21 apparel — sort of like the provisioners to the queen that you find in London!
To be fair, I have to point out that my appreciation for this ad is not universally shared. Whereas I see a clever lampoon, others see male-bashing, unrealistic portrayal of a profession, or a nefarious plot to enhance the stature of women, especially non-white women. Here are just a few of the comments submitted to YouTube regarding this commercial:
It's clear that Americans have lost any sense of humor they might have had. It's a commercial for crying out loud, not a documentary!
Another commercial in the Lily series is equally hilarious, but it doesn't get as much air-time nowadays as it did when it first came out.
In this ad, a non-urban, unsophisticated young man peppers Lily with questions, trying to find out what the "gotcha!" is; he clearly thinks the deal is too good to be true. Eventually he decides to go over Lily's head and talk to a supervisor.
Again Lily enumerates all the features of the plan she's selling (good salemanship) followed by a little twist that lets us have a good laugh (or maybe just a good chuckle).
No Catch Supervisor
Last updated on Apr 29, 2016