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NBC’s Vast Green Wasteland or Lipstick on a Pig

By Joe Romm  

"NBC’s Vast Green Wasteland or Lipstick on a Pig"

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What a total dud NBC’s Green Week turned out to be. I thought that

  1. the shows would find clever ways to promote green themes
  2. this would launch NBC on becoming greener.

Not! Indeed, the only good news is that the shows bombed across the board. Looks like viewers aren’t suckered by greenwashing.

As for #2, you can’t even find a single reference to being green on nbc.com today (you have to click on the tiny “corporate info” item at the bottom, and then look for the “Green is Universal” link under Headlines.). But, amazingly, what you will see on the NBC homepage is multiple ads for the Nissan Rogue, a cross-over SUV that gets 23 or 24 mpg! I guess green isn’t really that universal. [And, coincidentally, the TV writers are striking in part because greedy producers won't share this kind of online ad revenue with them.]

The shows were very, very lame from a green perspective. The funniest was 30 Rock (click on David Schwimmer picture/Greenzo episode), but it was a brutal satire on corporate greenwashing. The only person who is genuinely green is Schwimmer, who is a stereotypically obnoxious about the environment. Al Gore has a funny cameo, but he is mainly spoofing himself.

Scrubs is pretty funny, but the janitor’s effort to green the hospital fails for lack of interest. Thanks NBC! Grist was similarly disappointed with the Thursday night line-up.
Deal or No Deal had the models saying things like “Recycling is Cool, America” Recycling? Seriously? Uhh, that is like, so 1980s retro, please! Even dumber, Kermit the Frog (or what sounded like a lame imitation of him) was on the show to green it up, although he didn’t actually say any environmental things that I recall. But he was green-colored!

las-vegas-2.jpgWhat really convinced me this was not just a meaningless but actually a counterproductive exercise was that I happened to catch Las Vegas. NBC should be embarrassed for calling this a “green” episode (you can watch the episode, titled, “It’s Not Easy Being Green” — gosh, how original — here):

The show, for the 295 million Americans who don’t watch it, takes place in the fictional Montecito Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. In one pointless aside, the supercynical, but gorgeous, Casino Host, Samantha Jane “Sam” Marquez (seated) asks the very young, but gorgeous, new hotel concierge, Piper, whether she worries about global warming. She doesn’t. Why? “I look good in shorts.” That’s just great NBC. (But does Piper look good dehydrated in a desert? I seriously doubt it….)

I digress. The ending is what really annoyed. During the episode, the smart and concerned, but gorgeous entertainment/food manager, Delinda Deline (standing), realizes that the conspicuous consumption of the hotel and its guests is bad for the environment (duh!) and so she starts studying how to green up the hotel/casino. She then asks her boyfriend/boss/father-of-her-unborn-child — the gorgeous President of Operations, Danny McCoy (seated) — to support her and take her ideas to the super-gorgeous new owner of the Montecito, billionaire A.J. Cooper (Selleck).

At first he says no, but at the very end he brings Delinda to Selleck, who agrees to green a few rooms, but only to see if they can charge more money and attract environmentally-conscious guests (as if eco-tourists would be caught dead in Vegas). The possibility that greening the hotel would actually lower energy and water bills and allow a lower room rate is never considered, of course.

Finally, Delinda asks what about shutting off the hotel’s huge exterior waterfall. It is a desert after all. Selleck’s response: Why don’t we shut down the whole hotel? So there you have it. NBC’s green week comes down to the old false dichotomy: environment versus jobs. Not that Las Vegas is especially sustainable in the real world — but just what was the point of telling all these shows to put something environmental into the script?

Shame on NBC — and its writers. Perhaps the writers, knowing a strike was imminent, wanted to mock their greedy greenwashing bosses. That would be an even sadder commentary on our times.

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