Recently, young gentleman Chase Pearsall brought my attention to a particularly obnoxious and stilted ad campaign. Stop me when you've heard this: "When You're Here, You're Family."
Okay, you've stopped me. Now I'm going to go on about why the Olive Garden ad campaign makes me never want to eat there again. Let me for a moment ignore the, um, political implications underpinning "Sicilian Cooking" and "Part of the Family." Let's just look at a sampling of the commercials:
Figuring out all the permutations of pasta and sauce that a person could order. Who would do that? Let me rephrase: who would do that at a full table, surrounded by supposed friends, possibly coworkers, while everybody is obviously squirming in their seats to order some food so they can just eat and shut up the idiot who thinks this is the time for elementary mathematics? These people are not his friends: they pity him for not having anything better to do with his time. Some of them probably regret having invited him.
waitress: So what'll you have?
horrible d-bag: [upon seeing a passing entrée] I think I just saw it!
waiter: More salad and breadsticks?
ravenous postmenopausal women: Always!
white dude: You know what always gets us together?
token ethnic friend: Endless soup and salad!
[everybody—including the white dude, white chick, and token ethnic friend who comprise this bizarre love triangle—laughs]
brat princess: I like it. And soooo do my roommates!
[cut to overfed-freeloader roommates & family laughing]
creepy dad: I just want to make sure my little girl's okay.
brat princess: [with decidedly inflected Electra Complex overtones] Daddy!
Okay, forgive me if I'm being rude in rejecting mafioso hospitality, but I want no part of this family. My family does not laugh forcedly at jokes that aren't funny, and we don't stuff ourselves stupid on never-ending soup, salad, and pasta. In one of my favorite iterations, one character seriously says "Sometimes we're so busy eating, we forget to talk."
Wow, that does sound like fun. Sign me up for the next time those social geniuses get together to stuff so many breadsticks in their gobs that they nearly choke.