I’m going to share with you the strangest time capsule into a time long since past that I have ever encountered. The year, you ask? Only 2012. Yeah. Seven years ago. But when you see the bizarreness that is about to unfold, you’re going to see exactly what I mean when I say, “Sweet Jesus, it was a different time.” I have included screen shots from the ad, which came from a YouTube video at a poor resolution, so excuse their quality. But won’t you join me on my trip down this odd little rabbit hole?
Let me set the scene. It’s 2012. The Super Bowl. NBC is airing the game this year, so they’re going to milk it for all it’s worth and arrange a massive 4-minute ad to promote synergy between their exceedingly popular television programs across narrative, reality, and talk show-formats (and as shall soon be apparent, some had a longer shelf life than others).
Who is to host this spectacular? 30 Rock. …sure! This garners no complaints from me, as 30 Rock is my favorite TV comedy hands down, but…huh. Okay. Sure. Far from the network’s most popular content at the time, but…SURE.
It begins with the whole cast seated in their 30 Rock-based office to watch the game, currently in progress. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin begin their typical, witty rapport, wherein Alec Baldwin breaks into song, specifically “Brotherhood of Man” from the hit Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
…because why not?
The scene shifts, and we get to see some familiar faces from— The Office!
…with some fantastic photobombing from Creed!
But then, the sudden realization that damn it…
Andy goes diving out of Michael’s office, reminding us all cruelly that, “Ah yes, we’ve officially entered the dark ages of one of the best shows ever made.”
The scene shifts to Amy Poehler (belting the song incredibly well, I’ll have you know) and the crew of Parks and Recreation, who make ya feel all warm and fuzzy and nostalgic for the past.
Then the beloved Community. I’ve personally never seen it (I know, I know), but they look like they’re having a good time.
So up until this point, it’s been pretty benign, right? Besides all of these shows being off the air for a few years now, it’s been fairly straightforward.
But then, after a quick cutaway to more shenanigans from our 30 Rock crew, we get our first “yikes” moment. Baldwin says, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the newest member of the NBC family—SMASH!”
Yes, SMASH. At the time, it was the newest member of the NBC family…and was kind of an unmitigated disaster…and was cancelled after two seasons…and invented the concept of “hate-watching…” But they are pushing for it hard, rolling out the entire main cast into a quick song-and-dance number, several of which did not regularly sing and dance in the production. Apparently, this push was unsuccessful.
Here’s where the ad starts to spiral, starting slowly, then erupting into sheer chaos.
Sure. SVU. Gotcha.
Old school Voice gang (albeit with the controversial Cee Lo Green, which in retrospect gives us a slight feeling of”yikes” that will only continue to grow from here).
Jay Leno was still the host of The Tonight Show…
Now let’s play a game I like to call, “Do you remember even just the names of these shows?”
How about this?
I thought not.
But here. Here it is. The MOMENT that will forever destroy this Super Bowl ad, that will date it beyond repair.
THAT’S RIGHT, LADS. YIKES CITY, OVER HERE.
But wait—THERE’S MORE. We smash cut from “bad” to “not as bad but still gonna cringe into my grave…”
Matt Lauer, ladies and gentlemen, before the days in which he was fired from The Today Show for “inappropriate sexual behavior!” YIIIIIIIIIKES.
Thank CHRIST the SNL crew shows up to save our souls from eternal damnation…
Seth Meyers, Kristin Wiig, Bill Harder, Andy Samberg, Taran Killam, Nasim Pedrad, Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharaoh, Vanessa Bayer, Fred Armisen!! Look at these babies!!
But then…WE BACK.
Brian Williams, who in 2015 was suspended from NBC‘s supposed “brotherhood of man” for fabricating news stories.
We finish this train of bizarre with a big finish, then a bookend from Jimmy Fallon, still then only the host of Late Night, tap dancing away sadly through a revolving door.
So here’s the thing about this ad: It’s not the most controversial to have ever been made, nor even remotely the most memorable. I found it
because I’m a hoe for SMASH despite all its many flaws, and I could not believe a) the amount of NBC content that immediately lost steam and was lost to the sands of time, b) the mere handful of shows that still exist today, and c) the incredible amount of social change that we have seen within less than a decade that has singled out misconduct, highlighted offenses, and elected a president.
And finally, d) amidst all of this weirdness, the sheer irony of the title of the song they sing, “The Brotherhood of Man.”
That’s it folks. Here’s the full ad in all its crazy glory if you wish to experience the madness for yourself. Happy Super Bowl, and may this be the sole “yikes”-inducing ad you experience today!