Slate’s Seth Stevenson on Starter Wife Soap


Seth Stevenson dashes off an over-wrought piece in Slate about The Starter Wife, that mini-series that’s hyped to high heaven. The headline reads:

Soap Opera: How Pond’s infiltrated The Starter Wife writers’ room.

First, there’s no “writers’ room”. There’s a team, Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott, who’ve also written Rapunzel, The Runaway Bride, and others of this genre. Writers’ rooms are a staple of weekly sitcom production.

Be that as it may, Stevenson wrings his hands over the nefarious influence of Ponds, the moisturizer people, over Gigi Levangie Grazer’s deathless novel. Stevenson really, really hates these personal care brands–remember his Dove rant? At least Messing’s bony enough to not inspire his invective–although India’s thin, and he hated India.

According to Doug Scott of Ogilvy NA, Ponds got some product placement, a “hand in shaping the story and character arcs”, and some “signature moments” with Pond’s as a trigger for some action (sense memory at its finest). As the writers and Grazer are also the EPs, there’s no evidence that they actually took any ad-itorial advice, outside of having Messing’s medicine cabinet stocked with the stuff. Free props, whee!

And we care why? That Debra Messing reaches for a tub of Pond’s nice-smelling slime in her hour of need isn’t exactly going to ruin anything, including her artistic integrity.

Stevenson is tired of the encroachment of advertising into every aspect of his busy life. Fair enough, but there’s a really simple way to avoid much of it–change the channel. And then he’d be out of job.