T.J. Maxx/Marshalls “Intervention”

The recession is bringing out a lot of heretofore latent self-righteousness about the way people spend their money. We encounter a flurry of this in new commercials for off-price retailers T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, via GSD&M Idea City. In each spot, a woman is spending more than she needs to for designer clothing. Her friends think it’s their business to stop her, and they stage an “intervention” to break her of her sordid habit. The clear import of the intervention shtick (as when one “friend” calls the overspender’s behavior “disgusting”) is that paying too much for fashion is not merely a fiscal error but a character flaw. As is often the case when people try to lead a sinner onto the path of virtue, the proselytizers seem to be enjoying themselves a little too much. Maybe that’s why the sales pitch feels grating. The overspender certainly doesn’t appear grateful for the treatment she’s getting, and it’s hard to blame her. Anyhow, with bossy, presumptuous friends like these, paying full price for clothing may be the least of her problems. –Mark Dolliver