Who knew when I wrote about The Joneses a couple of weeks ago that an adaptation of the movie’s concept for television was coming to ABC. I think this is entirely fascinating, and I have absolutely no idea how it’s going to work.
The Joneses, which is about a fake family who moves into an affluent neighborhood to stimulate their neighbors into a round of aspirational spending, does have wonderful opportunities for product placement. Almost every scene involves a discussion of a particular item that the characters are being told about by their handlers or promoting to their neighbors as the next cool thing. But the overall message of the show is that our cycles of consumption are artificially induced rather than a reflection of our actual desires or any utility those products might add to our lives—and that ramping up that cycle can be destructive to the point of death.
It will be interesting to see if advertisers think that the overall aspirational message will be powerful enough that it’s worth it to have their products associated with the show, even if the vaguer message is that consumption is bad and we should be skeptical of racing to keep up with the Joneses. That was clearly what happened with the movie, which was chock-full of luxury goods. Either that, or the anti-consumptive message will be moderated to some more general assertions about authenticity and happiness, all of which we know are just as purchasable as Birkin bags.