Barbara Lippert’s Critique

“Your allegiance is to your audience,” Joan Rivers told a journalist when asked whether her Oscar-night commentary on the stars’ outfits for the E! network was perhaps a tad too mean. “You’ve got to tell them the truth or they won’t come back.”

In that spirit, I say, Joan, what the hell are you doing in a kitchen? Sure, Rivers is tireless in this Glad OvenWare commercial, giving us every ounce of angst she’s got. But, really—having the cosmetically enhanced, intensely coiffed and designer-suited QVC queen scream and cry in front of a sink full of dirty pots and pans (“They love me when I cook, and then leave me to clean up!”) is so odd and offputting, it could in duce a case of cognitive dissonance. What’s next, George W. Bush rolling up his sleeves to study the Talmud?

Oh, grow up, as our spokes-scrubber tends to say when she’s not placed in some parallel scullery universe. Lighten up, it’s supposed to be funny! The preposterous-ity is part of the plan, see. It’s a new angle on the “Don’t get mad, get Glad” tagline. Joan—dressed to tackle them pots in an impeccably tailored Nancy Reagan-red suit, complete with a Chanel- like camellia pin on her narrow, lapel-less shoulder—is supposed to be “professionally mad.”

And someone’s in the kitchen with Rivers: the “Glad character,” who, according to the press release, “acts as a foil to the mad character.” Indeed, there is something so camped-up about the way the situation is played in this highly stylized blue cucina that Joan is like a mad hatter (mad scourer?), a human cartoon.

The foil is played by actress Mela nie Deanne Moore, who apparently got the job after the agency looked at more than 500 people. It’s good that she’s well-qualified, because Mela nie has her work cut out for her. “I need help!” says Joan, throwing up her hands. The natural re sponse, of course, would be for a fleet of uniformed maids to appear. “We love your enameled bee pins, Mrs. Joan!” they’d say. “Don’t worry about the pots! Where can we get the new perfume?”

Instead, said foil must hold the big product package while announcing, “Joan, you need new Glad Ovenware,” and explaining that one “sturdy, reusable baking pan” goes “from oven to table to freezer.” And therefore, Joan would have only one thing to clean.

“Only one?” Joan asks, lifting her finger, now covered in a blue rubber glove. Then she asks, “I get to keep the OvenWare, right?” and starts wrestling for it with Melanie. (It should be pointed out that Joan never actually touches a pot.)

Joan sports a layered hairdo, and the foil has a happenin’ ’70s sort of shag (think Carol Brady in her later years), so that when they fight, they look like crazed birds attacking each other. With the fight, the spot gets so awful, it’s poignant. “Can we talk?” we hear over the final shot of the “Don’t get mad, get Glad” logo.

Oddly, the spot for disposable containers with Ben Stein works better. The word hangdog seems to have been invented for Stein; he is as monotone and down as Rivers is manic. In his Comedy Central game show and typical bit parts as a droning-teacher type, Stein has cultivated a cheap, curmudgeonly but smart persona. In this spot, the ascot-wearing Stein is more morose than usual because his neighbor has lost his Tupperware.

“We’re talking money here!” he says. Our foil explains that for the price of one Tupperware container, he can get a whole set of Gladware disposables. “Smart lady,” he says, toppling the GladWare pile.

Their interaction is better, be cause the foil gets to be the funnier one. But back to Joan, as she raises that blue finger. Given that the one-gloved King of Pop and former Pepsi promoter Michael Jackson is now known mostly for his bi zarre, heavily renovated appearance, does Rivers really want to be re branded as the rubber-gloved one?