These floorplans of apartments and homes from TV shows are amazing.
Since the thing that was previously worst in the world was a commercial, it is only fair that one such also be the best:
“Yeah… cool guy.”
But then Foot Locker released the even better alternate version:
You have to understand that it is not simply that this is a bad commercial (and it’s a very bad commercial). It is that this commercial is on all the goddamn time. Watch the Raptors game? Okay, get ready to see this commercial fourteen times. Watch The Daily Show? Five times in a half hour! It NEVER FUCKING ENDS. Is there a worse commercial airing currently than this one? Seriously, if there is, put up a Youtube link in comments because I think the sheer banality of this one cannot be topped.
When I said that to my wife a bit ago, she looked at me and said, “I have no idea what you mean by that.” I’m kind of assuming you feel the same way, so I’ll explain.
A traditional ‘alternate universe’ story, which is something that just about every sci-fi/fantasy series gets to from time to time, is like pornography in that it’s really just the same thing each time with very little variation. Each AU storyline purports to focus on a single point of divergence that has sent history down a different path…but the differences are never so great as to preclude instant audience identification. (For example, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise”, twenty years of war with the Klingon Empire hasn’t resulted in any advances in technology beyond the Galaxy class starship, the Enterprise hasn’t been destroyed and replaced by the E or F, and all of the bridge crew have not only survived but have wound up in the exact same command positions on the exact same ship. Likewise, Giles is still assigned to the Hellmouth and despite the subtext of many episodes involving the idea that what separates Buffy from other Slayers who’ve died young is her friendships and connections with the everyday world, the only sign that Buffy is any less skilled as a Slayer is the little scar on her lip.)
The “twists” to this reality are designed, like porn, to provide simple and visceral thrills. They are less intended as logical consequence of any particular point of divergence as they are to give the audience the specific excitement of breaking well-established narrative rules. The premature death of Charles Xavier, for example, doesn’t lead to the dystopia ruled by Apocalypse because Charles Xavier did anything in particular, it leads to the dystopia ruled by Apocalypse because it’s the only chance that Marvel has to show a world where the bad guys won and the heroes are a desperate resistance movement. In the much later “Here Comes Tomorrow” storyline, Beast isn’t a villain because it’s a logical extension of Scott’s retirement from the team; he’s a villain because showing a fan favorite hero as the villain is a staple of alternate universe stories. (Another common trope is best exemplified in the ‘Magik’ series, where the cute and winsome Shadowcat is shown, in the alternate dimension of Limbo, as being a hardened warrior. The series also shows charming and friendly Nightcrawler as a lecherous villain…basically, you can chalk up 95% of alternate universe stories to the combinations of “set in a dystopian reality”, “well-liked hero is a villain”, “infamous villain is a good guy”, and “comic relief/peril monkey character is a total bad-ass”.)
And, like pornography, alternative universe stories have their own version of the “money shot”. If you accept the idea that the breaking of series narrative conventions in an AU story is the sci-fi/fantasy series equivalent of the sex in porn (and roughly the same amount of time is devoted in AU stories to showing how different and unexpected the alternative timeline is as is devoted to the sex in a porn movie), then the natural “climax” is the ultimate breaking of narrative convention, the death of characters who normally are given a protected status by their role in the story. Buffy is always safe in the Buffyverse (and possibly the only person who is)…so therefore, she has to die at the end of ‘The Wish’. ‘Days of Future Past’ has to end with a bloodbath, because it’s the only time Chris Claremont can get away with incinerating Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Magneto in a single issue.
Does this mean that alternate universe stories are without merit? No. Like porn, there are wide variations in quality. (‘Days of Future Past’ would be qualified as “erotica” in this analogy, for example.) But it is worth remembering that stories like these always start out with a huge advantage in fan’s affections because that’s really all they’re intended to do. They are stories made to give long-term followers of the series “fangasms”, no more and no less.