On the surface of it all, this is of course a comedy.
Apple’s newest spot is a seven-minute sequel to its award-winning 2019 ad “The Underdogs.” The previous short was like a mini-sitcom, chronicling the tribulations of a ragtag group of office workers, trying to engineer their big break out of anonymous middle management via an innovative pizza box design.
It was basically The iOffice.
Here we rejoin the crew under quarantine conditions, yet despite being at home, the pressure to deliver on their big idea remains. This is the work-from-home reality, Apple-style—complete with family interruptions, kids, parents, no pants, videoconference awkwardness, FaceTime calls, and shared docs. It’s all here as the team is forced to come up with a plan for their breakthrough pizza box remotely.
Much like its predecessor, it’s a fun mini-sitcom of high quality and pitch-perfect casting, and a goofy depiction of the working relationships we’ve all been forced to adapt to.
It’s also pretty dark and depressing.
Of course, it’s not Apple’s fault that people have been forced to maintain the same level of productivity despite at-home challenges, whether the inherent loneliness of living alone in a pandemic, the stress on spousal relationships, grown children living with elderly parents, or in the case of Dave, balancing full-time work with full-time parenting.
Apple may provide tools that make it all work as smoothly as possible, but here it mines comedy out of an unsustainable work model. Maybe it would’ve come off as more light-hearted if it was just a 30-second distraction. Like when Progressive’s Flo went into full Zoom mode. Seven minutes gives us all time to think about just what it is we’re watching. The darkness of it all is compounded by the boss Vivienne, here representing the comfort of the rich, dialing in from the back of a limo or barking orders poolside.
What’s Dave supposed to do when school doesn’t reopen in the fall?
The look on his face at the end, as his disheveled bathroom is disguised as a tropical beach FaceTime background, is not one of long-term creative productivity.
It’s exhausted desperation.