The New Nostalgia

Normally when I’m watching “regular” TV (not streaming or on the Roku), I take a break when the ads come on – to run to the bathroom, do a couple of dishes, check my phone.

But these aren’t normal times – and suddenly, the ads fascinate me.

Because they’re breaking all the rules.

Happy couples at crowded restaurants. The rheumatoid arthritis sufferer who takes her adorable daughter to the office for “Bring Your Child to Work Day.” Grandparents riding the subway to meet up with their kids and grandkids at the airport.

I see pool parties and weddings, gym classes and picnics, people laughing on crowded airplanes and singing in carpools. One ad for vitamins features a frazzled mom whose kids have toilet-papered an entire living room.

Yes, actually wasting toilet paper instead of hoarding it.

And I wonder, will life ever look like that again?

For parents with kids at home, ads could offer a terrific learning experience: Who's not practicing social distancing? What should they be doing instead to stay safe and healthy?

Surely the big ad agencies are hard at work – remotely, of course – on new ads that better fit our new lives as COVID-19 looms larger by the day.

Whatever those look like, I’ll miss the good old days, when people could hug anyone, anytime…and tour Italy with their families, like in the Eliquis ad…and run in big, silly crowds to Panera Bread locations for unlimited coffee refills.

Perhaps it will even make sense someday that American Cruise Lines is still a “proud sponsor” of the PBS NewsHour.

But not today.